In 2014, Dad and I had setup at Wizard World St. Louis, and had a show the following weekend in Minneapolis. We knew we had a night to kill on the way to Minnesota, and as luck would have it, the Washington Wizards were in Chicago for the playoffs on that very day! If you know the Reece’s, you know that we are a die-hard D.C. sports family. Some of my earliest memories are of not understanding why I’m so upset about the Redskins losing. So, when the opportunity came to see our team on the road, we jumped on it. It was Game 5 of the opening round, and Chicago was facing elimination as the Wizards led the series 3-1. We bought fresh gear for the occasion rocked it out the entire day of the game. We started the day off with burgers and drinks at the famed Gibson’s steakhouse, and let the day evolve from there. With a few hours until tip-off, we took the L train down to the stadium. Chicago, in my experience, has usually been a very friendly place. Not so when you are dressed in the opposing squad’s attire. We were heckled from the moment we got within visual range of the stadium. As they were scanning our tickets, we got yelled at by a kid that couldn’t have been more than eight years old. His parents were proud.
We found our way to our seats, which were about twenty rows back in one of the corner sections, and we were in a sea of angry Chicago Bulls fans. The arena was dead silent when they shot free throws, so I was taking requests via texts from my friends for what I should shout out during their shots. “Frito Bandito” and “Mashed Potatoes” were friend favorites. After several of these, another kid a few rows back threw some ice at my head, but his emotion must have gotten the best of him, because the cubes sailed long and struck a Bulls fan sitting a few rows ahead of me. I didn’t even have to point, the kid looked so guilty when the guy turned around. Later on, the same kid yelled at me “Ovechkin stinks!!!”. Wrong sport, but I admired his vitriol at such a young age. His parents were likewise proud.
The game was tied at half, but the Wizards took the lead early in the 3rd quarter, and while it wasn’t a blowout, we never lost the lead the rest of the game. As the clock wound down, Dad and I started to party. If you know much about the Wizards, you know that we stink. It’s really hard to hate on us because we are so bad. Along with that, we don’t travel well as a fanbase, because, well, we stink. So, when the game was ending and it became evident that we were going to advance to the next series, we were about the only Wizards fans the camera crew could find. My friends were all texting me asking if I was at the game, and we showed up on some of the recaps of the game. It was such an awesome experience to get to share that with my Dad.
When the game ended and we were victorious, we waited until the whole arena cleared out to savor the moment, and we went down to the court level. They literally deflated Benny the Bull, their floating mascot, right before our eyes and folded him up to be put in a box for next season. If that’s not victory, I don’t what is. After that, the Wizard’s owner was hanging out right in front of us, so we just started yelling, “Hey Ted!”. He turned and started talking to us once he saw our gear. Even he knew how badly Wizard’s fans travel, as evidenced by his question, “What do you mean you came all the way from Maryland?”. It was pretty surreal.
We got lost on the way back from the game and ended up walking about a mile to an L Train stop, getting heckled most of the way. We probably should have been more scared than we were, but we were hopped up on beer and victory. We made it back to our hotel just in time to catch the highlights of the game, and then went on to Minneapolis. While the Wizards didn’t end up making a Championship run (in fact they lost in the next round to the Pacers), it doesn’t really matter.
It’s funny, I don’t remember much at all about the two shows we set up at, but this is a memory I will have for the rest of my life. I suppose that’s the point of life in general. It’s not so much about what comics you buy at a convention, it’s about the friends you go with, the fun you have, and the memories you make. Go Wizards!