CHEERDANCERS
Tuesday / April 02 / 2013
No streaking allowed
erika, chicago luvabulls

The author, third from left, dances after the Bulls halted the Miami Heat's 27-game winning streak last Mar. 27.

On March 27, 2013, I entered the United Center like I always do for a game, not realizing I was going to be part of NBA history.

The day went by so quickly that I barely had time to think about the importance of this game. Co-workers told me to cheer a little louder and kick a little higher in hopes the Bulls can end a 27-game winning streak of the Miami Heat, which is the second longest streak in NBA history (behind the ’71-’72 L.A. Lakers’ streak of 33 games). We also speculated that this would be the game Derrick Rose returned in full uniform to take on LeBron James. Unfortunately, there was no sighting of Rose, but the game itself was a sight to see.

As I walked on court for the start of the National Anthem, I could already feel the energy in the United Center. The place was packed with a little over 23,000 fans, surprisingly not all Bulls fans. The few that were Heat fans definitely made it known that they were in the building. Even before tip-off, I felt like I was in a playoff game. The roars from the fans made me start to feel a little nervous for the players. I couldn’t imagine the amount of pressure they were feeling, but they started off strong and knew they had to play physical. Four minutes into the game, Kirk Hinrich pulled a veteran move and did not allow LeBron to dunk on him, so he grabbed him to the ground to avoid fueling the Heat offense. Within the first five minutes of the game, the Bulls were up 11-2, which led to a Heat timeout. The crowd wouldn’t stop cheering!

As I left for a uniform change with five minutes left in the first quarter, I returned to see the Bulls were still up by 10 points. I didn’t want to get my hopes up because I knew this is typical of the Heat. They may be behind during the first half, but usually come out stronger during the second half to somehow come back and win the game. The question was whether the Bulls would be able to stop LeBron and company and continue to play aggressive offense with limited turnovers. By the end of the first half, the Bulls were up 55-46.

The third quarter started and I was right; the Heat would come back and take the lead. The crowd was quiet, but didn’t give up on the Bulls. The Bulls fought back to end the quarter with a one-point lead, but not without the help from guard Jimmy Butler. Right before the quarter ended, Butler, in his second season with the Bulls, rose high above Chris Bosh of the Heat to catch a lob pass from teammate Luol Deng. With a slight bobble, Butler kept his eye on the prize and knocked down a dunk with Bosh stuck helplessly under the hoop. The fans quickly jumped to their feet, as my jaw dropped in awe.  What an adrenaline rush to start the fourth quarter!

Both teams knew they had to continue to play hard for the last 12 minutes. Who wanted it more?  With time running out, the Bulls had a decent lead, which frustrated the Heat. Still playing aggressively, they wanted to stop LeBron from getting inside the paint, so gave a hard foul, which brought him to the floor. The following play proved LeBron’s frustration with a flagrant foul called on him; as LeBron saw Carlos Boozer set a pick in the corner of his eye, he decided to give a rough football-style, shoulder block into Boozer. Boozer wasn’t having it, but stayed calm and professional. One of my favorite highlights was a key play where 5’9” Nate Robinson put up a floater above 6’8” LeBron, as he hung onto the rim with defeat.

The Bulls moved on to win 101-97 to end the Heat’s win streak.  Not only that, they clinched a playoff spot, so you’ll see us dancing during the post-season! Everyone in the building couldn’t contain their excitement! This historic win was even better than getting a free Big Mac when the Bulls won and scored at least 100 points! Truly, this was one of the best games I have been fortunate enough to be a part of. There’s definitely no streaking allowed in the Madhouse on Madison!

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