Players compete for bragging rights at team's annual bowling party
By Adam Fluck | 12.17.2014
When Chicago Bulls players hit the lanes for the team’s 24th annual bowling party on Tuesday, it was referred to as a “friendly competition” with bragging rights at stake.
As was evident to those in attendance, including many of the team’s corporate partners, for whom the event at Chicago’s 10pin Bowling Lounge was held, that didn’t mean they weren’t there to win.
“It’s in us no matter what we do,” said Derrick Rose. “We could be doing anything, even throwing rocks, and we’d always compete to see who could throw one further. It’s just in our blood to compete and that’s why we have fun at this event. But we take it seriously, too.”
“Any time we’re competing, it’s fun,” agreed Jimmy Butler. “You always want to have the upper hand though. It’s all fun and games, but of course you want to win. It’s great to see though, our entire roster is here and we’re all smiling.”
At the end of the evening, however, it wasn’t Rose or Butler who walked away victorious. Rather, it was a couple of the team’s big men who were crowned champions.
Cameron Bairstow posted the high mark amongst the players, while Nazr Mohammed teamed with Chris Hall (Lexus), Tom Superits (Lexus), Dan Frystak (CDW) and Karl Schulz (CDW) to turn in the best team score.
The NBA season is a long one that is very demanding, but for an evening, the players, coaches and front office staff alike enjoyed a break from basketball for a few hours.
“I get a big kick out of seeing the players in a relaxed atmosphere,” said Michael Reinsdorf, president and COO for the Bulls. “There’s no pressure or worrying about whether they’re going to make a free throw or win a basketball game. They’re just here having a good time to interact of course with our sponsors, but also our staff. It’s a lot of fun.”
Roughly 70 people were on hand representing the team’s top 30 corporate partners. Following hors d'oeuvres and cocktails, guests enjoyed dinner before groups of four were teamed up with a player across 14 lanes for a game.
“It’s good to be around them so we can thank them for everything they do,” said Butler of meeting various sponsors. “We can’t thank everybody individually, but just being here shows that we really do care. It’s cool to see so many faces that are usually behind the scenes.”
“It’s always an honor to meet them because they all contribute to helping fill the arena up and they support our team like the rest of our fans,” added Rose. “It’s important getting to know them because they can help you not only on the court, but off of it too.”
“The sponsors are such a big part of our organization, so for them to connect with our players and see what they’re all about is pretty special,” noted Reinsdorf. “They can read all they want about how great these guys are, but when you’re with them first hand to bowl and joke around, you really get a good flavor about what this organization represents.”
As much as the players enjoyed the evening, it was all about the team’s corporate partners, who by all indications experienced a night to remember.
“As a corporate sponsor, the Bulls are a great partner,” said Jeff Jones, senior manager of sponsorships at United. “For them to take time out of their schedules and to have the players engaged at the level they’re engaging means a lot. We couldn’t be more excited about our partnership and the relationship that we have with the team.
“You always want to develop the relationship that you have, not only with the front office, but the actual team as well,” added Jones. “They are the product that is on the court. Again, for them to sacrifice their time to take part and truly want to engage with the guests is what means a lot to us.”