It’s hard to say who qualifies as the biggest Bulls fan in the world, but we’re making a bold assumption that 80-year-old Virginia Labellarte is up there on the roster. She’s listened to every Bulls game on her kitchen radio since the ‘60s. She knows every player—past and present—and their stats. She even has a particular shade of bright red “Bulls lipstick” saved for special game day occasions.
As our winner of the Night At the Home of the Chicago Bulls, Virginia had a pretty special game day occasion to break out that bright red Bulls lipstick.
We received this nomination from Danielle Divito, Virginia’s granddaughter:
“I am a born and raised Bulls fan in Chicago, but I’m actually nominating my grandma, Virginia. She is THE BIGGEST BULLS FAN. And this would be an absolute dream for her.”
Of course, we couldn’t wait to host the dreams of this diehard Bulls duo.
When Virginia and Danielle’s private car arrived at the Michael Jordan statue outside of the stadium, they were outfitted with their own custom Bulls jerseys, basketball shoes, and Airbnb tote bags filled with swag. They got dressed and ready for their introductory tour behind the scenes of the stadium, starting with the Bulls’ board room. There, awaiting their arrival was their host, legendary Bulls player Scottie Pippen, waiting for them at the head of the table.
“Well, hello!” Pippen said as he shook the hands of his special guests. “I’ve been expecting you guys.”
He showed them to their bedroom—the United Center’s executive suite converted into a full-on luxury apartment. The room was decorated with memorabilia from years of Bulls history and overlooking a VIP view of the court. And, since her 80th birthday was just days before, there was a surprise birthday cake waiting for Virginia on the bar next to an ice bucket of champagne. The cake, of course, in the shape of a Bulls jersey.
As the ladies ooh-ed and ahh-ed at their home away from home for the night, Scottie looked on with a smirk, “You guys have the upper hand. I mean, I’ve taken some naps in here but I’ve never spent the night. I can come back for breakfast, right?”
After spending their $500 gift card on memorabilia in the Bulls’ store, it was time for the real fun to get started. Danielle and Virginia were taken to the court for warm ups and, here, they witnessed some of their favorite Bulls’ stars like Derrick Rose getting ready for the game. Virginia even got to meet ‘her boy’, Bulls’ small forward, Jimmy Butler—a definite highlight of the whole experience.
“So. Okay, wow. We’re going to actually sleep in here,” Danielle said as she took in the empty stadium. “Yeah,” Virginia answered, as if she’d been ready for this for decades. “And you better not kick in your sleep.”
After an exclusive dinner at the Ketel One Club, it was finally game time. Virginia and Danielle took to center court at halftime to try their hand at winning a $1,000 Airbnb coupon.
20,000 fans and supporters cheered on as Danielle was tasked with searching through a suitcase to find pieces of Bulls clothing for Virginia to wear. Once Virginia was decked out from head to toe in black and red, Danielle raced down the court to score a layup with the clock running out. After a few unsuccessful shots, she sunk the shot. The stadium erupted into applause.
After an amazing Bulls victory, Virginia and Danielle met back up with their host and new friend, Scottie Pippen for some cool down rounds of practice. And, in perhaps the most ESPN-worthy moment of the evening, Scottie helped Grandma Virginia perfect her “Granny Shot” in front of the hoop. Since it doesn’t get much better than that, it was time to call it a night, to retire to the VIP suite for movie time. The flick of the evening? Space Jam on the JumboTron. Of course.
“I didn’t sleep at all!” Virginia told us the next morning, as they got ready to check out. “I was just too excited from everything. This has been one of the best days of my life.” They ended their stay with a stop through the team locker room, and then to brunch at the Signature Room in the Hancock Building. Overlooking all of Chicago as they ate, Virginia and her granddaughter most definitely reached the pinnacle of their Bulls-loving career.