When the Bulls visited Northbrook Court on Wednesday, the line to get Joakim Noah's autograph was roughly 200 times longer than the line to meet Santa Claus.
Holiday shoppers were out in full force, but this is apparently the season for lockout-delayed Bulls basketball.
In some cities, NBA popularity might be slow to recover after the lockout.
But not here.
For starters, the Bulls drew more than 21,000 for their lone preseason game at the United Center on Tuesday night. It seemed to be a legitimate figure, with very few empty seats.
Comcast SportsNet announced that the 93-85 victory over Indiana was the highest-rated Bulls preseason game ever. Well, at least in the history of local sports network history, which includes the SportsChannel days and all of the championship era.
The game drew a 4.62 rating (roughly 161,000 households), beating the previous record of 3.2, when Michael Jordan's Bulls hosted Seattle on Oct. 11, 1997.
Then on Wednesday afternoon, the Bulls annual fan greeting at Northbrook Court drew huge crowds. Several hundred fans waited at each station to get autographs, from the Luol Deng and Rip Hamilton table to Omer Asik and C.J. Watson.
People waited patiently as mall security stretched police tape to secure an opening for Derrick Rose to walk from the Mark Shale clothing store to his autograph table beneath the giant Christmas tree. Needless to say, when Rose finally appeared, the fans chanted, "MVP, MVP."
Noah and Hamilton got into the holiday spirit by donning red stocking caps. They weren't Santa hats, but close.
One smart aleck patron walked around the second level shouting, "Where's (Brian) Scalabrine?" The answer: In front of the Gap, sitting with Carlos Boozer.