Do the Bulls have the NBA's best local fanbase?

Do the Bulls have the NBA's best local fanbase?
February 12, 2014, 6:00 pm
Share This Post
Mark Strotman

2013 wasn't all that memorable of a year for the Bulls, but that didn't stop fans in Chicago from showing their support.

Last week Nielsen released its annual Year in Sports Media Report, an all-encompassing look into what, where and how fans consumed sports in 2013. Among the findings, presented by Deadspin on Wednesday, were findings on how local fanbases supported their teams. One data set looked at the percentages of the local populations that "watched, attended or listened to the team in the past 12 months."

Of the four major sports in the U.S., the Green Bay Packers had the highest local support, with 88 percent of locals supporting the team in some capacity. The St. Louis Cardinals led the MLB with 76 percent, while the Pittsburgh Penguins' 54 percent local mark was best in the NHL.

The only Chicago team that appeared in the Top 5 for any major sport was the Bulls. According to the report, 45 percent of locals consumed the Bulls in some capacity, watching, listening to or attending a game.

That mark ranked fifth in the NBA, behind the Oklahoma City Thunder (64 percent), San Antonio Spurs (60 percent), Miami Heat (53 percent) and Dallas Mavericks (46 percent).

[MORE: Noah makes history in Bulls win over Hawks]

As Deadspin points out, the numbers are a bit skewed in favor of A) small-market franchises and B) franchises that have no other teams to support in the area. It's easier to support a team when there's a smaller population in the city -- Green Bay's population of 105,000 is the smallest for any pro sports team -- and local fans have fewer choices on who to cheer for when there are fewer teams -- the Spurs are the only pro team in San Antonio.

Oklahoma City and San Antonio are two of the smallest markets in the NBA, and they also tout just the one professional franchise. The Miami Heat certainly have seen an increase in fandom with the arrival of LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010, and back-to-back NBA championships hasn't hurt, either.

The Mavericks' 46 percent mark is impressive considering the franchise competes with the NFL's Dallas Cowboys, NHL's Dallas Stars and MLB's Texas Rangers.

[MORE: MJ's wife gives birth to identical twin daughters]

In the same light, the Bulls' 45 percent mark is impressive considering the franchise shares an overlapping season with the NHL's Blackhawks, winners of two Stanley Cups in the last four years. Combine the Blackhawks with the Cubs and White Sox, and it's possible to make the case that the Bulls have the NBA's most loyal fanbase.

Despite Derrick Rose missing the entire season and the team bowing out to the Miami Heat in the second round of the playoffs, Chicagoans consumed the Bulls.