Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Night Chicago Lost Two Legends

I'll never forget the night I met Norm Van Lier. I was at a Bulls game with my play by play teacher and sitting in the media room. Storming Norm walks through the doors smiling like I hear he always was. He knew my instructor, Steve Olkens and made sure to introduce himself to the two other students and myself. He was laughing and telling jokes and you could tell that man would light up any room he entered. Norm told me to come out with him for a night on the town and not to worry he had a police escort to chauffeur us around. I figured he was joking around, but he said he was serious and I wish I would have taken him up on the offer. From the stories I have heard that man lived his life to the fullest and got everything he possibly could have out of life in his 61 years. I am going to miss him on Bulls Postgame, it won't be the same without his unfiltered commentary and humor.

We talked for maybe ten minutes, but I won't forget the night I met the Legendary Stormin' Norman.

Just hours after the news broke of his death, word came of Johnny Red Kerr's passing as well. Talk about a couple of stomach punches for a fan base in one day. Obviously what sticks out most in my mind about the Chicago Bulls is the Michael Jordan moments. If you ever saw him hit a game winner live you never will forget it. I saw Jordan bury a game winner seconds after what seemed like a Glen Rice dagger live and that is locked up in the memory vault forever. What I will always remember about the Unforgettabulls is the night I got to witness Jordan being Jordan live, the game winner in Utah and Johnny Red Kerr behind the mic.

"The Bulls win, They Win it!" That's all I could hear in my head as I read the news of Red's death. The words of Johhny Red Kerr and the Jordan powder clap ritual in front of him are iconic moments in Bulls history. Everyone my age can recall the moments sitting in front of the TV watching those Bulls teams listening to the voice of Johhny Red Kerr. Listening to a broadcast without Kerr just hasn't felt right and sitting in the United Center knowing Red isn't in attendance isn't going to feel right either.

Thankfully the Bulls pushed up his long overdue ceremony as they knew his time was getting short. I just wish Norm Van Lier was a part of it as he was noticeably upset at not being invited to the celebration. Reinsdorf can't do anything about it now, but hopefully he will be honored the right way with his jersey being raised to the rafters.

There will never be another Stormin' Norm or Johnny Red Kerr, I am just glad I was able to have them in my life during the dynasty years and beyond. RIP to two Chicago legends.

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