It’s time to write about Terry Armour.
I’ve appreciated NBC Sports Chicago allowing me to wander down Memory Lane as we air classic broadcasts of the Bulls’ 1996 title run. Covering those games represented my first big professional break at the Chicago Tribune. And here it is, 24 years later, on the day we air the Game 6 title clincher over the SuperSonics, and I’m still writing about the team.
Terry is a big reason why. And losing him in 2007 at age 46 is something that none of us who were privileged to call him a friend will ever fully get over.
Terry served as the Bulls beat writer for the Tribune during the second three-peat. But he represented so much more than that to me. He was a friend and one of many mentors, more personally than journalistically.
Simpy put, Terry lived life with joy.
We lived two blocks away from each other on Chicago’s north side, and we’d travel to and from most every practice and every game together. To say Terry took me under his wing would be as ridiculous an understatement as to say he remains potently missed by so many. Terry introduced me to people. He showed me what it’s like to handle deadline pressure. He shared tricks of the trade as easily as he shared his memorable laughter.
We were as inseparable as Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen from 1996-98. We shared a love for music and late nights in taverns. Sometimes, we’d stay out way too late. After all, Terry had a hook-up — he always had connections, everywhere we went — at the late, great Justin’s tavern on the Southport corridor.
Always, we’d show up again for work the next morning.
Terry was conscientious. He was diligent. He worked hard, rising from copy clerk to columnist at a time that newspapers reigned supreme. And he understood how Chicago ticked, growing up on the South Side and attending Columbia College.
Above all, he took his work seriously but never took himself seriously. I can still hear his wonderful laugh.
Terry passed away unexpectedly and tragically one evening in December 2007 while working inside Tribune Tower. He had moved on from the Bulls beat to write an entertainment column and carve out a radio career. Everybody loved Terry.
I got the call while covering a home game at the United Center. Personally, I was devastated — and still am, often, when I think about all that he had yet to accomplish, how much joy he had left to spread. Professionally, I wanted to honor his life.
So I moved into work mode. I interviewed anyone and everyone associated with the Bulls who wanted to share an anecdote about Terry. Everybody did. Even Dennis Rodman, who was Terry’s close friend and hadn’t played in Chicago in years.
I’ve caught glimpses of Terry sitting at press row as I’ve watched these games. More often than not, he has a smile on his face.
That’s the way all of us he touched remember him.
Every other night through April 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing the entirety of the Bulls' 1996 NBA championship run. Find the full schedule here.