June 13, 1996 in Sports

Hold The Parade For Now, But Hold The Fish Forever

Bob Verdi Chicago Tribune
 

I would like to tell you how the champagne tasted, but there was none.

I would like to tell you what time the plane carrying the NBA champions will arrive at O’Hare on Thursday, but it’s been delayed.

I would like to tell you when to be at Grant Park for the big celebration, but there’s been a change in plans.

The Bulls, you see, got clobbered 107-86 Wednesday night. You can’t sweep ‘em all. Two more days of fish.

I don’t mind eating fish, but I don’t like talking about fish. And they’re very proud of their fish here. When you call the hotel bellhop and ask if your laundry ever arrived, he says, no, but we have great fish in the restaurant.

Which reminds me. Thursday will be laundry day because Game 5 will be held at the KeyArena Friday night. The White Sox, whom nobody has been watching in Chicago because of the Bulls, are also playing in Seattle Friday night over at the Kingdome.

Isn’t that just White Sox luck? They travel almost 2,000 miles to get away from being ignored at home, and they still can’t escape the long shadow of the Bulls on the road.

Oh, and by the way. Games 6 and 7 will be in the United Center, if necessary. Did I really say that?

On a scale of 1 to 10 for notorious athletic disasters suffered by Chicago sports teams, Wednesday night’s revolting development deserves only a decimal point. It’s aggravating and annoying to Bulls’ fans, especially those who decided to get a head start on those 5,000 police officers strategically placed on the streets of Chicago.

But Wednesday night was merely a jaw-dropper, not a heartbreaker. This surely was not the Cubs at San Diego in October 1984, or the Bears losing three playoff games in the late ‘80s in Bears weather at Soldier Field, or the Montreal Canadiens skating into Chicago Stadium and beating the Blackhawks in Game 7 of the 1971 Stanley Cup Finals.

No, Wednesday night wasn’t a calamity. It was merely an accident nobody thought was waiting to happen. The game the SuperSonics were supposed to steal was Game 3 on Sunday. But the Bulls blew Seattle out of the gymnasium so thoroughly that a couple of Sonics issued what sounded like preconsolation speeches.

Shawn Kemp said his teammates gave up. Frank Brickowski said the Bulls had won the mind games. George Karl, the coach, admitted that next year’s films will feature Dennis Rodman flopping all over the place.

“If they can get away with it,” Karl said, “then we’ll have to learn to do the same.”

But Wednesday night, there were no tricks. The Sonics, who had been buried by most experts and sent off to Puget Sound, came out strong and just got stronger. They made a lot of those 3-point shots they had been missing and they didn’t pass the ball like it was a grenade.

Conversely, the Bulls had 11 points in the second quarter (equaling an NBA Finals low for a quarter) and finished the first half shooting 38 percent from the floor. They had 11 turnovers and Jordan was colder than an editor’s heart. The Bulls put on a surge in the third quarter, but it was brief and ineffective.

They couldn’t break Seattle’s spirit. The Bulls couldn’t break an egg Wednesday night.

I should have known. I ran into general manager Jerry Krause before the game. I wanted to wish him luck, but he was too angry over my column on Phil Jackson the other day. I wrote that Jackson might leave the Bulls if he doesn’t get the right kind of money.

“Check your facts,” Krause said. “How do you know what money we’re offering unless you ask me? Why didn’t you ask me a question?”

OK, Jerry. Have you eaten any fish here? They have great fish.


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