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updated: 5/2/2011 10:56 PM

Patriotic prelude fires up fans

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  • Jim Cornelison, who sings before every Blackhawks game, delivered the "Star Spangled Banner" prior to Monday's Bulls playoff game at United Center.

      Jim Cornelison, who sings before every Blackhawks game, delivered the "Star Spangled Banner" prior to Monday's Bulls playoff game at United Center.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Bulls did a nice job of revving up the crowd prior to Monday's series opener against the Atlanta Hawks.

With news that U.S. Special Forces killed terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden still fresh, the night got off to a patriotic start. The Bulls brought in Blackhawks national anthem specialist Jim Cornelison for a noisy rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner."

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Most every Blackhawks player was in attendance, so Cornelison's appearance was appropriate for a variety of reasons. As a side note, the Bulls played for the first time this season with no ice beneath the basketball court.

Fans were told to arrive early because of extra security, but traffic was flowing smoothly through the gates just before tipoff.

Following player introductions, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau walked to center court and accepted the Red Auerbach Coach of the Year Award from NBA operations chief Stu Jackson.

Thibodeau waved to acknowledge the fans as he walked back to the bench. Thibodeau's parents flew in from Connecticut for the occasion, while his former boss, Jeff Van Gundy, was also on hand.

On Sunday, Thibodeau thanked Van Gundy for being his biggest advocate during the long wait for a chance to get a head coaching job. Thibodeau was an assistant on Van Gundy's staff in New York and Houston.

"We've been through a lot together, so it means a lot to me," Thibodeau said.

Midway through the second quarter, the coach of the year was given a technical foul for arguing a charging foul against C.J. Watson. Thibodeau received 2 technicals during the regular season, but one was later rescinded, according to nba.com.

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