Bulls host 26th annual "An Evening with the Chicago Bulls" charity gala

By Adam Fluck | 02.27.2015

As Bulls players and coaches know, a commitment to the game of basketball is required in order to win at a high level.

It involves hard work, focus, dedication, and doing what it takes to be prepared. Those same elements apply to the organization’s pledge to give back to its community, which was precisely the theme on Thursday when the team hosted “An Evening with the Chicago Bulls”, its 26th annual charity gala.

Presented by BMO Harris Bank, the event was emceed by Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini from ABC 7’s Windy City LIVE! and featured a performance by comedian Gary Owen. For the first time, it was held at the Advocate Center, the team’s new practice facility across the street from the United Center.

“Bringing it over to the Advocate Center is like bringing it into our living room,” explained Nancy Reinsdorf, president of Chicago Bulls Charities. “It’s an incredible setting, so intimate and beautiful. We couldn’t be more excited to showcase our new home on a night like this. This is where our players and coaches are most comfortable, so it is nice to welcome some of our biggest fans and share it with them.”

“I look forward to this night every year,” said Leslie Forman, vice president of Chicago Bulls Charities, as she and her husband, Bulls General Manager Gar Forman, greeted guests during the cocktail reception. “We count down starting the day after the previous year’s event. We’re all thrilled to be here as part of an organization that goes out and works in our community to help kids and families in our Chicagoland area.”

Joakim Noah, who in the last year has worked with the Bulls to host his One City Basketball Tournament and various initiatives for his Noah's Arc Foundation, agreed that to make an impact off the court as well as on it is a matter of putting in the work.

“This is a world class organization. All the work that the Bulls do off the court, they aren’t always things that everyone gets to see,” Noah said. “People like Nancy and Leslie do a great job in making sure it’s more than just basketball. There are a lot of people who understand that here and I’m just really proud to be a part of it.”

Along with Michael Reinsdorf, president and COO for the Bulls, Noah, his teammates, coaches, ambassadors and broadcasters were on hand for a progressive cocktail reception, dinner, live entertainment and a silent auction.

One of the highlights of the event was a BullsTV-produced video featuring the team’s Community Relations interns: Alan Batrez, Lavell Gamble, Sherdell Mallett and Monica Ocampo. The interns came to the Bulls through the team’s partnership with Urban Alliance, an organization that works with companies to provide under-resourced high school students with one-year internships that involve formal training and mentorship.

On Thursday, Mallett and Gamble, who are brothers, spoke to the crowd about how the experience has affected them and better prepared them for life. Mallett shared that he plans to be the first person from his family to attend and graduate college. Gamble followed up by saying he’ll be the second.

Dinner was provided by Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, SPLASH served as the event’s print media sponsor, and Athletico Physical Therapy was the matching sponsor of the “instagive program,” matching donations to Chicago Bulls Charities at the event up to $10,000.

“Having partners like Athletico and BMO Harris and Lettuce Entertain You, it’s overwhelming when you see people who are so willing to jump in, help out and be supportive,” said Reinsdorf. “It’s hard to include everyone, but when people are knocking down the door to be a part of it, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Chicago Bulls Charities also partnered with Chicago-based neckwear and men’s accessories retailer, The Tie Bar, on a special line of ties, pocket squares, and socks designed in collaboration with Bulls players. The Chicago Bulls Charities Collection debuted at the event and are now being sold at the in-arena team store, on The Tie Bar’s website, and at their location in Lincoln Park. A portion of proceeds from the collection will benefit Chicago Bulls Charities.

“We ask the community to support us all the time, as players and a team,” noted John Paxson, executive vice president of basketball operations. “So to have a charitable component like the Bulls do, one that reaches out and helps so many parts of our city, it’s the right thing to do. Ever since Nancy took this upon herself to spearhead everything, Chicago Bulls Charities has grown and it’s becoming bigger and better every year. It’s important. Sometimes you have to put everything in perspective and nights like this do that.”

Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau echoed Paxson’s comments when it comes to the collective efforts that surround him.

“The people in our organization do an unbelievable job of getting this organized and putting it all together,” said Thibodeau. “A lot of work goes into it and we certainly appreciate all our sponsors and fans. It’s for a great cause and we feel it’s important for our team to be involved in the community. Chicago is such a great city and it is what should be done. We’re proud to be part of the community here and we just want to do our part.”

The players, among the most visible members of the organization, are well known individuals with the ability to make a great impact. And as many of them acknowledge, support from the team and Chicago Bulls Charities is crucial when it comes to doing just that.

“It means everything,” said Noah of the team’s support. “Doing these kinds of things, it definitely puts everything in perspective. It’s about more than winning and losing basketball games. To be able to do things for the kids and uplift the city a little bit is great and I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

“It’s always great,” said Taj Gibson. “I’ve been here for a number of years and the way the foundation is set up, it’s only getting better and easier to contribute. I’m happy to be a part of it.

“It’s big, putting in the work off the court is very big,” Gibson continued. “The city of Chicago needs a helping hand and the Bulls are one of those organizations that is always giving back. It’s going to keep on giving and I love being a part of it and helping with the daily ins and outs.”

“It’s a nice give and take that the organization offers,” Mike Dunleavy stated. “We like to be active out in the community and in turn the organization works with us to provide us opportunities of interest where we want to help. It’s a great relationship where both sides are benefitting. I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Perhaps it was Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen, who is currently a special advisor to the president and COO for the Bulls, who summed up the night as well as anyone.

“It’s a great event, 26 years and strong as ever,” said Pippen. “It’s something that has been very beneficial to the city of Chicago. It’s something that I know the players look forward to and it’s a great opportunity to get out and mingle with some of our sponsors and fans. On a night like this it’s easy to see what this organization is really all about.

“Chicago Bulls Charities has really been the identity of the organization with all the team does out in the community day in and day out,” Pippen added. “It’s not just a couple events here and there. It’s a daily operation that shows this organization really puts forth an effort to better its community. It’s something that has grown over the years and a lot of great partnerships have been developed. At the end of the day, it’s the city of Chicago that really benefits.”

All proceeds from “An Evening with the Chicago Bulls” will support Chicago Bulls Charities. Under the leadership of Nancy Reinsdorf, the charity’s president, and Leslie Forman, its vice president, Chicago Bulls Charities provides annual financial support to Chicagoland nonprofit organizations that share the Bulls’ commitment to youth education, youth health and wellness, and violence prevention. Chicago Bulls Charities and the entire Bulls basketball family work to address community concerns and find ways for the organization to make a positive impact on the lives of those in need.


Players and Chicago Bulls Charities Teaming Up for the Community

Meet the Chicago Bulls Community Relations Interns

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Michael and Nancy Reinsdorf

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Gar and Leslie Forman

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Tom Thibodeau

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: John Paxson

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Joakim Noah

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Aaron Brooks and Doug McDermott

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Taj Gibson

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Jimmy Butler and Kirk Hinrich

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Mike Dunleavy

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Cameron Bairstow and Tony Snell

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Nazr Mohammed

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Nikola Mirotic

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini

An Evening With The Chicago Bulls Red Carpet Interview: Scottie and Larsa Pippen

View the photo gallery from the event

Start bidding!

The silent auction is now live and will remain open until Thursday, February 26th, at 8:40 p.m. All proceeds benefit Chicago Bulls Charities.

Check out some of the great items that are available!

Derrick Rose 2014-15 Autographed Game Worn Jersey

Joakim Noah 2014-15 Autographed Game Worn Jersey

Jimmy Butler 2015 Autographed All-Star Jersey

Pau Gasol 2015 Autographed All-Star Jersey

Chicago Bulls 2014-15 Autographed Team Basketball

Michael Jordan Autographed Basketball

Scottie Pippen Autographed Basketball

Custom Built 4ft X 4ft Table from Championship Chicago Stadium Floor

The night will be hosted by Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini of Windy City LIVE! and will feature a comedic performance by Gary Owen.

Ryan Chiaverini

Co-Host, Windy City Live ABC 7 Chicago

Ryan Chiaverini is co-host of ABC 7’s popular talk and entertainment show, Windy City LIVE, which airs weekdays at 11 AM, Midnight and Sunday evenings at 11:30 PM. Formerly the sports anchor for ABC 7’s top-rated weekend newscasts, Chiaverini auditioned for Windy City LIVE and was chosen for the top co-host job from a field of several hundred candidates. Ryan’s quick wit, work ethic and reputation as someone you can’t help but like, made him the perfect choice for ABC 7’s new local show. Ryan’s trademark “2-Minute Warning” segments, featuring entertainment and sports celebrities answering fun trivia questions, has become a Windy City LIVE favorite.

Prior to Windy City LIVE, Chiaverini joined Chicago’s Number One sports team as sports reporter/fill-in anchor in March, 2006 was promoted to sports anchor on the station’s weekend newscasts.

Chiaverini’s passion for sports runs deep in his bloodline. His father, Eddie, was a stand-out hockey player and was a member of the Sr. Los Angeles Kings. His uncle, Tony Chiaverini, fought Sugar Ray Leonard. Ryan’s younger twin brother (by eight minutes) went on to play professional football in the NFL for the Browns, Cowboys and Falcons and now coaches football at UCLA.

Chiaverini attended college at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he majored in Broadcast/Journalism and played strong safety for the Buffalo football team. One of Ryan’s fondest memories is being able to play football with his twin in both high school and college.

A native of Corona, California, Chiaverini’s hobbies include playing hockey and guitar.

Val Warner

Co-Host, Windy City Live ABC 7 Chicago

Val Warner is the co-host of Windy City LIVE, ABC 7 Chicago’s popular morning talk and entertainment show airing weekdays at 11 AM, Midnight, and on Sunday evenings at 11:30 PM. From the first moment Val auditioned for the show, the producers knew they had someone special. Val’s sparkle, sense of humor and warmth made her the hands-down favorite amongst the hundreds of candidates who vied for the top job. Val and her co-host Ryan Chiaverini bring fun to daytime television as they cover everything Chicago from politics, to celebrity interviews and fashion, to what’s on people’s minds around town.

Val’s work has been nominated for several Emmy Awards in Chicago and other markets. She has co-hosted half-hour health specials covering topics such as diabetes and breast cancer. Val also contributes to ABC 7 Chicago programming special as co-host of ABC 7’s Chicago Lights Festival and the Bud Billiken Parade.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Valerie’s family roots are here in Chicago. Now that Valerie is back home with all her family in the South Holland area, she’s busy raising her two young children, Zoe and Max. The family’s latest addition is Kobe, a Shih Tzu puppy. Val’s family is her main focus. She spends most of her free time outside of work hanging out with her kids, mom, sister and grandmother. Val knows the importance of giving back to the community and she volunteers her free time helping numerous charitable organizations throughout the Chicago area and has received many awards for her community service. She does manage to squeeze in time to take in a movie and work on her latest interest-- running!

Val is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at San Diego in 1996.

Gary Owen


Gary Owen has been entertaining America for more than a decade with his side-splitting comedy. Having performed to sold-out audiences in all the major comedy clubs and theatres across the country, Owen is one of America’s most loved comedians.

Owen’s new Showtime comedy special, “I Agree With Myself,” is currently airing throughout the month of January. Gary is one of the stars of the Screen Gems comedy “Think Like A Man Too” and the original film “Think Like A Man,” both opening at #1 at the box office. He was last seen in the Universal comedy “Ride Along” with Ice Cube and Kevin Hart. On the small screen, Gary starred last season in TruTV’s funny video/sketch show “Upload” which he hosted with Shaquille O’Neal.

Gary was always the class clown growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio. After high school, he got serious and enlisted in the Navy. He was chosen for the prestigious Presidential Honor Guard. After leaving his ceremonial position, Owen became a military police officer at the Naval Installations on Coronado Island in San Diego but he only made two arrests in three years. During that time he embarked on his true calling: stand-up comedy. After only a year of doing stand-up, he was named “Funniest Serviceman in America.” Owen had a huge African-American fan base and went on to win the “Funniest Black Comedian in San Diego” contest. In addition, Ebony magazine has proclaimed Gary “Black America’s Favorite White Comedian.”

In addition to “True Story” and “I Agree With Myself,” Owen stars in, and produced, two other stand-up comedy DVDs - “Breakin’ Out The Park” and “Urban Legend.” He also starred in “Martin Lawrence Presents: 1st Amendment” on the Starz channel.

Coming soon!

The Chicago Bulls Charities Tie Bar Collection will be available February 27.

Evening with the Chicago Bulls Host Committee

  • Bob Arthur
  • Ellen Chube
  • Liz Compton
  • Lynell D'Sylva
  • Jeanne Ettelson
  • Justine Fedak
  • Jacky Ferro
  • Kathleen Henson
  • Jill Hirsh
  • Mary Ann Kaufman
  • Lillian Lofton
  • Denise McClanahan
  • RJ Melman
  • Kristie Paskvan
  • Lizzy Scheinfeld
  • Rebecca Strope
  • Robin Tebbe
  • Tracy Ury
  • Sherri Zirlin