[Image courtesy of the NBA]
Armchair Pointguard: Tim Mortensen of Into It. Over It. & Soundsupply
by Chad Jewett
Tim Mortensen, co-founder of the awesome Soundsupply and bassist for modern emo greats Into It. Over It. is a life-long Chicago Bulls fan. We chatted with Tim about his Bulls fanhood, favorite players, and the incomparable Benny the Bull.
The Bulls recently signed Pau Gasol and were able to trade for Doug McDermott on draft day. Your thoughts on each? What is your general impression of the Bulls’ off-season moves?
Like most off-seasons, the dream of landing the magic “fix-all-of-your-problems” player were in full force this year. I do think that Carmelo Anthony could have been the offensive weapon we’ve been missing, but in reality, bringing in Melo would have been a very “non-Bulls” move. Adding players like Gasol and McDermott fit the Bulls’ method of targeting team-focused players that are going to do everything they can to contribute. Whether that’s a good plan or not, I guess we’ll see.
Gasol is a champion who Phil Jackson (the greatest mind in basketball?) thinks is a future Hall of Famer, so I’m definitely intrigued to see how he fits in. I think a big man rotation including Gasol, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson is a dream and can cause a lot of problems for other teams, both on offense and defense. I doubt they’ll all be in at the same time, but I like the idea of that front court with Gibson being the 3 on defense, but moving to the 4 on offense, letting Gasol pop out and be guarded by smaller defenders. I also think a huge benefit of Gasol that not many people are talking about is his mentorship of Nikola Mirotic. The two coming from a similar background playing for national teams in Spain will dramatically help expedite the transition of Mirotic to the NBA. The two players were announced this week and threw out the first pitch at the White Sox game together. It was pretty adorable.
Doug McDermott has shown a lot of promise in Summer League, so best case: he’ll offer some much needed spacing for Derrick Rose and some perimeter shooting. Thibs traditionally is pretty light on rookie playing time, so I don’t know how much of McBuckets we’ll see, but I think he’ll be ready when that time comes.
What are your earliest memories as a Bulls fan? You would have been in grade school for most of Jordan — any good memories of that era?
My first basketball memories were the Bulls beating the Lakers to win their first championship, so to say that I’m a spoiled fan is an understatement. It took me a few years to realize that it wasn’t automatic that Chicago was going to win the championship every year. I grew up in a Bulls family, going to Chicago Stadium a couple times a season and planning dinners around when games started. My brother and some neighborhood kids would constantly fight over who got to be Jordan and who had to be Will Perdue during driveway games. My Dad really set the tone for Bulls dedication in the house. He taught me the ritual of muting the TV during Bulls playoff games and tuning in the radio to the local broadcast to mute out any anti-Bulls national broadcasters.
My Grandma Mortensen might have been the world’s biggest Bulls fan. She had a Scottie Pippen Starting Lineup figure, where Pippen was in a defense stance with his hands out. She would hold each of his hands while watching Bulls games in her living room and cheer loud enough to bother the neighbors.
She once claimed her cheering was so precise and strategic that it was the sole reason for the Bulls Game 6 win in the 1993 Finals over the Phoenix Suns. When I tried to tell her that it might have had more to do with John Paxson’s game-winning three point shot, she convinced me that his shot was a manifestation of her Bulls spirit. A few years ago, I had a chance to meet B.J. Armstrong, who played for the Bulls during that championship run. He was returning a copy of Microsoft Office (which I thought was hilarious, for some reason) at the store I worked at, just down the street from where the Bulls practice. I asked him what it was like when John Paxson hit that shot with 3.9 seconds left in the game and he said there was definitely some magic in the building that night. At that point, I was convinced that magic was most likely, in fact, my Grandma. Bulls Love runs deep.
Who are your three favorite Bulls of all time, and why? Current favorite Bull?
Michael Jordan – Jordan is at the top of every single list that I will ever make, whether it’s about basketball or my favorite cologne. About once a month, I fall down a YouTube black hole watching old Jordan highlight videos and every time, without fail, they bring me to tears. The last time was a few days ago… while I was in Starbucks.
Horace Grant – As a kid who had to wear protective goggles while playing grade school ball, I “rec-spec” Horace Grant pretty hard. He was the first example I saw of a player who was known for hustle over anything else, which is what I think the Bulls are still about to this day. He was an important part of the first championship run and didn’t seem to care about getting any of the praise.
Scottie Pippen – You’re not allowed to our family dinner table without loving Scottie Pippen. A lot of people throw around the “Robin” nickname, but it’s pretty rare to have a “sidekick” this good. I will still argue that he is the best defender I have ever seen play basketball.
Current favorite: Jimmy Butler – I love his story and his work ethic. Going from a 13 year old homeless kid to now one of the NBA’s most exciting players is pretty inspiring. The last Bulls game I was at, we sat next to a lady that yelled, “Marry me, Jimmy!” every 15 seconds. I wanted to be upset at how annoying it was but I couldn’t help but relate. Dude is a catch.
Considering that he sounds like a cross between Tom Waits and Dickey Barrett, Tom Thibodeau might be the most punk-rock basketball coach ever. What are your thoughts on Thibs?
To me, Thibodeau is a blend of Ditka and Phil Jackson, making him pretty perfect for this city. He’s been able to get a lot of wins from a lineup that, usually due to injuries, shouldn’t be producing at that high of a level. It really captures the underdog, blue-collar mentality that Chicago has adopted. Now, the argument against Thibs is that his drive could also be the cause of some of these injuries. Hopefully that doesn’t prove to be true this season- knock on wood (Bosstones reference), but that winning mentality is so engrained into this lineup that you’re not going to be able to get a tired Joakim Noah to take a night off against someone easy, like say the Pistons, even if it’s probably the right call.
I think this year Thibs has access to the best bench he’s had since joining the Bulls and that’s going to show itself come the end of the year when the Bulls can both finish strong and kick it in to a higher gear in the playoffs, something that hasn’t happened the past two season.
The Bulls have more or less stuck with the same logo, but have a few alternate jerseys — red, white, black, black pinstripe, red pinstripe, even the awesome cursive one that would show up during the Jordan era. Any favorites? Any you’d get rid of?
Chicago sports have always stuck to classic designs when it comes to uniforms. The Bulls jerseys luckily haven’t deviated too much from their original look, thankfully. I mean, the riskiest thing they’ve ever done is make their jerseys “black.” I don’t know much about fashion, but making something black usually works out just fine. I definitely like the cursive “Chicago” version from Jordan’s rookie year. I also really like the “Los Bulls” that was introduced for Noche Latina. I’m not crazy about the St. Patrick’s Day green variation, but only because it makes me feel like I’m rooting for the Celtics (no offense).
What are your expectations for Derrick Rose at this point?
I have ridiculously high hopes and expectations for “The Return: Part 2” but that’s just how we do it in Chicago. Every year is going to be the year the Cubs and Bears will win it all, and every year I’m unfairly heartbroken and let down after doing nothing but offering all of my love and support to these teams. I don’t know any other way to operate.
Realistically, I know it’s going to be tough for Rose to come back from the past two injury years and be the same player. You want to still root for the best, but for every Adrian Peterson scenario, there’s a Grant Hill scenario. Hopefully, with the new additions to the lineup, the pressure on his back (and knees) will be lightened and he can assume a roll that keeps him on the floor all season. (To be clear, that’s on the floor playing, not on the floor writhing in pain)
And finally: Benny the Bull. He’s easily a top 3 NBA mascot – I know we loved the Benny / ‘Taken 2’ ads. Just how great is Benny?
There’s no better mascot in the league than Benny the Bull. His popcorn gag where he spills the bag all over someone wearing an opposing team’s jersey is worth the over-priced admission to the United Center alone.