Ben sleeping
We were right there with you, Ben.

I had the misfortune of being offered some extra tickets to the Bulls-Raptors game Saturday night in Chicago. Seeing as I, Evil Ted, haven't paid to go to a professional sporting event since 1987, I jumped at the chance to see some professional basketball - the operative word being "some."

Notes on a game:

My neighbor, who invited me to the game, took me and my 9-year-old son is his newly acquired Toyota Prius, the most available and prevalent hybrid car on the market. The verdict: cool, quiet, confortable. You press a button to turn it on, and there's a monitor in the dash that constantly shows you battery usage, gasoline usage, and MPG. Also, in one corner of the screen there's a Hummer being mashed repeatedly in a compactor, and in the other corner is an Oil Sheik giving you the finger.

The Bulls win the tip, constituting their one highlight of the evening.

Kirk Hinrich and Ben Wallace are called for a non-existant foul and non-existant moving pick, respectively. The officials have now set a tone that "non-existant fouls will not be tolerated." Each non-foul is shown in slow-motion on the big screen, showing just how bad the calls are, and adding credence to the notion that the officials have all placed bets on Toronto. A fan behind me grumbles "pay off," and I'm disgusted enough to want to start a "pay off" chant, but the presence of my impressionable 9-year-old prevents it. Furthermore, taunting a group of refs that includes 106-year-old Dick Bavetta feels cruel.

End of first quarter: Raptors 17, Bulls 13. Yawn.

As the second quarter proceeds, the difference between the Bulls' defense and the Raptors' D is palpable. The Raptors are faster and hungrier and, in their red and black uniforms, look like the Tampa Bay Bucs defense that won the Super Bowl.

Halftime: Raptors 41, Bulls 30. Yawn again. Bulls on pace for 60. That's friggin' spectacular, if this were a football game.

Allow me to synopsize the second half: gracious, hopeful applause as the Bulls send out Joakim Noah. He proceeds to show why he's a great player - on the college level. Here I shall mention Thabo Sefolosha, but only because I like writing and saying "Thabo" and "Sefolosha."

The only guy in a red and white outfit who looks inspired (other than the Fatables, or Matadors, or whatever they call those belly-shaking male cheerleader dudes) is Andres Nocioni, who scores 20. Out of the rest of the team comes nothing but the flattest, most amateurish looking jumpers ever. I have never seen so many shots falling short, and/or looking like they never had a chance to go in at all. Call it good defense, but eventually the D slacked off, and the open jumpers looked just as bad.

Middle of the third: the Raptors pull ahead by between 20 and 30 points, and the crowd begins a "Kobe" chant. In the face of this horrible game, I am now suddenly willing to endure spectactular - albeit selfish - play. Again not wanting to negatively influence my 9-year-old, I am one with the crowd's opinion, but silently.

End of the third: The score is irrelevant, but the Raptors score 36 to the Bulls 13. You do the math.

Final: Raptors 101, Bulls 71, but it wasn't even that close, as the Bulls scored 28 in a fourth quarter during which the Raptors not only weren't playing defense, but also suited up a 13-year-old female Raptors fan as a part of a quirky Canadian "Get to play in a blowout" promotion. She plays 5 minutes, scores 12 points, gets 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 blocked shots.

The United Center is half full at the end of the game. It appears 50 percent of the fans actually detest their team's performance enough to stay and boo them off the court.

Ben Wallace appears incredibly torn up over the loss, grabbing a microphone and yelling to the fans that the Bulls will never play with such a lack of heart again.

The previous statement: completely false. Wallace emotionlessly steps into chauffeur-driven limo and heads home, his biggest concern being whether he will pop the Ben Stiller comedy "Night at the Museum" or the Kevin Costner drama "Mr. Brooks" into the limousine's DVD player.

The biggest concern in the Prius ride home is how far we can coast on battery power and get 100 miles to the gallon, even if for only a few seconds. The Bulls are not discussed.

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