Kid’s Day at the United Center is often perceived as a wonderful time to entertain those in the crowd who cannot yet reduce the amount of saliva they produce. This Sunday, the Chicago Bulls announced a new promotion: Kid Picasso, an intended lifelike-turned-surrealistic project that commissions elementary students to draw their favorite players on the team’s roster. The players are then asked to guess who the athlete is, all while the thousands in attendance stare placidly at the jumbo screen and wait for the t-shirt cannon.
Some of the more deft minds at local area schools produced gorgeous, mirror-like artistic renderings. Others took a more dystopian approach: eyes sporadically placed, players with two right feet, Jimmy Butler wearing men’s hosiery below his jersey, cherubic faces without a nose.
While many were quick to take the not-always clear portraits as an opportunity to respond with cheerfulness and personality, one player in particular was far from amused.
“What a ghastly sketch,” 11-year point guard Kirk Hinrich, 34, snickered. “That kid should be institutionalized.”
“Kirk, they’re children” video production assistant Steve Layer responded. Layer had joined Hinrich on a number of boating trips over the past year, and seemed to be one of few who understood the University of Kansas alumnus. “Have you forgotten your joy of the quill and ink? Have you forgotten the art you used to take pleasure in at 19th-century theater camp? You used to tell me it was magic. We used to talk more, Kirk.”
Minutes later, after the second painting was unveiled, Hinrich pivoted and stared blankly back at the camera, breaking the fourth wall, and seemingly forgetting the most important lesson taught at 19th-century theater camp. Hinrich had attended the camp many summers ago, where he had developed an aversion to artists and children alike.
“I am averaging a career-low 47 percent true shooting percentage!” Hinrich bellowed. “Have you forgotten, Steve, that I am posting just .034 win shares per 48 minutes? Have you!!!!!??????”
Steve didn’t know what to say; he had indeed forgotten those averages. He knew his old chap was inconsolable.
After steaming in silence for 18 minutes, Hinrich dug his fingernails into the drawing and began making alterations to the child’s work.
“Art will take them nowhere!” Hinrich squawked. “It’s better to cauterize the wounds while you can, otherwise they’ll traipse through art school and a stout woman named Doris will tell them to give up. They’ll be left with nothing!”
When he was finished scraping the canvas, Hinrich leaned back and chortled.
Benny the Bull requested Hinrich not be asked to take part in next month’s philanthropic event for President’s Day.