"The Sixth Man: Tribute to the Chicago Bulls in Unexpected Places"
It was already a quarter of eight and I couldn’t understand why I didn’t get it together and get going. The banquet was set to begin at eight. I had already missed the cocktail reception. The affair is close by, so I arrived just in time to be seated for
the invocation and the meal.
Well, there I was. It was a very nice formal dinner, nice people, and good company. There are worse things in the world than to meet with your peers a few times per year and catch up on the newest technology, improved techniques, and the achievements of the most respected researchers in the field.
But, why am I so distracted? Actually, it was that first quarter action of game five. I could barely pull myself away to take a shower. What a first quarter! Michael (MJ) played well, and the entire team knew that they had a job to do. So, they “came to play.” Pippen and Grant took the ball to the basket so strong that they left Detroit in the dust. Yea! Anyway, that’s why I missed the cocktail reception. I knew that if I took a quick look at the game, I’d be late.
I took my seat and tried to focus. We made conversation at our table, mixed, mingled, and socialized. Maybe it was me, but it seemed that others were distracted as well. One guy kept checking his phone. Was he expecting a call? A couple of people from my table ate quickly and went near the open bar. Were they checking the score with the bartender who had a small TV? I was wondering how the Bulls were doing, too.
As the dinner was winding down, the keynote speaker was introduced. His award-winning research had been hailed as timely and innovative. His work may define a new era of study for the next few years. He stepped up to the podium. He announced to the crowd that he was a little distracted. He held up two small pieces of paper. He told us that the pieces of paper were the Bulls play-off tickets which he didn’t use tonight. He wanted to be here to accept the award for his research and talk a little about his work. He thanked everyone for coming. He gave a very brief overview of his work. He went a little further on this topic. Suddenly, he stopped, almost like interrupting himself, and asked for a show of hands as to how many people already read his articles and the results of his studies. Almost everyone raised their hands. Then, surprisingly, he asked if there were any Bulls fans in the room. He got very strong applause indicating that nearly the entire group was made up of Chicago Bulls fans.
He proclaimed, “OK… Enough with the research.”
He asked the crowd to do something different. He asked them to pretend that they were not dressed in “their finest” and to stand on their feet and act like the real Bulls fans they knew themselves to be. You would not have believed your eyes had you been there.
This unique audience, composed of all sorts of professional people, stood on their feet and cheered, whistled, whooped, waved handkerchiefs, and acted just as though they were in the United Center (Formerly the Chicago Stadium). The group collectively decided that the thing to do would be to bring in a big screen TV, order another round of dessert, and watch our “Chicago Bulls” play the fourth quarter of a crucial game.
The people were relaxed and maybe a little friendlier, the atmosphere was great, and the keynote speaker was celebrated as the “man-of-the-hour.” I’m sure that I’ll pay to hear him speak at another dinner or function - as will many others who attended. And, I know that I’ll remember that night as one of my most memorable.
The Sixth Man
(Fiction: Basketball Fun)
Joyful Harts Music Library