Street violence and isolated acts of arson and looting were reported late Saturday night on the West Side as crowds celebrated the Bulls’ playoff victory over Atlanta earlier in the week. Police are calling the violence “preemptive” and blamed over-eager fans, concerned about the team’s chances to go all the way.

In the 1990s, Bulls fans had six opportunities to celebrate an NBA championship with a traditional rampage through the streets of the West Side, but the long drought since and a tough series against the Miami Heat has many fans concerned.

“This is a great team,” said Bucktown resident and fan, Martin Held, as he torched a car just across the street from the United Center at Madison and Damen. “But I’m not taking any chances. I decided to get my rioting in now just in case the Atlanta series is the last one we win this season.”

Held was only 14 the last time the Bulls won it all, too young to appreciate the ritual violence and arson that marks the end of a championship run.

“I just don’t like the way we match up against Miami,” he said. “Sure, I’d love to be rioting because of a Finals victory, but this way at least I got in some good street battles should the Bulls not get past the Heat.”

Police reported no serious injuries or arrests, saying it “just wasn’t worth it” yet.

By Cary Nathenson

Cary Nathenson