To those of us who twitch and hyperventilate over each Bull playoff drama, it's hard to believe that there really are Chicagoans who just don't care. I know several of these odd people.
Some simply are indifferent to, or dislike, sports in general. They believe it is wasteful to invest so much time and emotional energy in watching paid athletes hit, kick or dunk balls of various sizes.
There are also those who consider themselves sophisticated, worldly and intellectually superior to the average yahoo sports .. fan. And they view the ardent fan with a mixture of amusement, contempt and pity.
As one of them said to me: "There is a herd mentality among sports fans. And I have never been one to run with the herd." To which I responded with a loud "moo," and moved to another bar stool, closer to my fellow cattle.
But the strangest reason I've heard for ignoring the Bulls' hunt for a third championship is race.
Yes, there are people, most of the pink-skinned persuasion, who dislike professional basketball because most of the players and the greatest stars have a darker hue.
I've known a few, and I recently discovered, to my amazement, that one of these people is my friend Slats Grobnik.
"Maybe that makes me a racist," Slats said, "but I get tired of seeing nothing but black guys. At least in baseball and football, there's some racial balance. But pro basketball is nothing but a black guys' game, and I can't identify with them. No, I won't turn it on. And if it's on in a bar, I'll sit with my back to it or go someplace else."
Why let skin color deprive you of the enjoyment of the game's athleticism, the competition, the excitement and the unbelievable feats of Michael Jordan, the world's greatest athlete?
"I'll tell you why," Slats said. "I can't cheer for guys who would scare me out of my wits if I met them in a dark alley."
That is not only racist, but it is silly. As a Chicagoan, you should be scared of anybody you meet in a dark alley. Even a little old bag lady could have a shiv in her bag. And you should not be walking in dark alleys in the first place, unless you are trying to prevent your neighbors from seeing you stagger home.
"Well, I'm still not going to pay any attention to basketball until I see more white guys out there."
Actually, there are quite a few white players in the NBA, and many of them are highly talented. Didn't you admire Larry Bird, one of the greatest players of all time?
"I didn't like him, either. He was just a big mope of a hillbilly."
He was from Indiana, which is not part of the South.
"Well, I think anybody who lives south of 111th Street is a hillbilly. Besides, we're talking about the Bulls. And how many white guys do the Bulls have? Two? Perdue and Paxson? And neither && of them are big stars and they're both part of the bench."
True. But Will Perdue is said to have a size-22 foot. Two such feet, in fact. So you could cheer for him in the hope that he steps on a tiny black player.
"What I'd like to know is how come there aren't more white players? Talk about job discrimination."
It is not discrimination. There are two theories, both at least partially valid. But one is politically incorrect, so I cannot talk about it.
"Which one is politically incorrect? You can tell me because I'm not sensitive anyways."
The theory says that due to genetic differences, blacks can sprint faster than whites and can leap higher, both invaluable gifts in basketball. But it is politically incorrect for a white person to say that, although blacks take great pride in it.
"What's the other theory?"
It is the station wagon theory. Or, more recently, the minivan.
"What do cars have to do with it?"
This. In recent decades, the majority of white youths have grown up in suburbs. Their parents, usually the mothers, drive them to T-ball league, Little League, soccer league, hockey league, swimming lessons, tennis lessons, karate lessons, golf lessons and McDonald's. The schedule of a modern suburban child becomes busier than that of a CEO.
"So they get driven around. That's the American way."
Yes, but in the inner cities, where so many of the basketball stars come from, there are few station wagons or minivans and fewer organized activities to drive to. But there are small parks or school yards, most of which have a basketball hoop. And that is where the action is. It's also the least expensive activity. A hoop, a ball and the game is on. By the way, have you heard of the driveway theory?
The driveway theory attempts to explain why most white players are excellent free throw shooters but some great black players are surprisingly inept at the foul line. The suburban youths have driveways. And there is usually a hoop on the garage. So they can spend hours popping in free throws and other outside shots.
"I get it. But in the cities, the black kids don't have driveways and their own private hoops."
Exactly. And since there are more kids per hoop in the cities, one kid can't monopolize it. So to get through the crowd, they become more proficient at whirling and twirling types of shots.
"So you're saying there are all these black basketball players because of sociology stuff?"
That's right. Economics, segregated housing patterns, job opportunities, mobility, recreational availability and so on.
"Well, I still don't like it."
Then if you insist on seeing white players, you might try watching golf.
I= "Golf? Nah, I've never had any trouble getting to sleep."