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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Mark Cuban lends plane to Bulls

ESPNChicago.com

A scary midair incident over the weekend had the Chicago Bulls borrowing airplanes to get around this week.

On Saturday night, the Bulls were flying to Indianapolis for Sunday's game against the Pacers.

"Apparently a compressor in engine No. 3 had some trouble, and it sounded like it exploded, but I guess it's like a jet engine backfire, which is very loud," Bulls radio analyst Bill Wennington said Monday on ESPN 1000's "Waddle & Silvy Show." "Sparks fly out of it. It happened actually right after ... the captain thrusts the engines forward and it revs up and starts to go, about three seconds after that you hear a 'Boom!' 'Oh, what was that, are we stopping?' The plane keeps going down [the runway] and you're thinking, 'Oh no, why aren't we stopping?'

"It was funny, because we're in the back of the plane, and the engines are right by us, and we hear it. They can't hear it [in the front of the plane]. And apparently they couldn't feel anything. And so we take off fine, and about five minutes later, two more booms, 'Boom!, Boom!,' and a couple people saw flames and sparks and stuff flying out [while looking out of] the window. We're all thinking, 'Well, it's been nice.'"

The plane turned around and landed back at O'Hare. The players were sent home and returned the next morning to fly to Indy on the Chicago Blackhawks' charter plane, which they used to return to Chicago after the game.

"Honestly, it was really scary," Bulls television analyst Stacey King told "The Waddle & Silvy Show" on Tuesday. "We thought we were going to go down. And so they turned us back around and got us back to the airport. We made it back safely. ... So, thank God, we made it back and we were blessed to land safely.

"After getting on the ground that night, I was ready to get on a bicycle and ride to Indy. I was shook for a little bit."

King said the pilots did a good job of getting the plane back to the airport.

"I'm not going to sit up here and lie, if I had a teddy bear, I probably would have been grabbing it," he said. "It was a frightening situation. Our pilots did a good job of getting us back down. You can fly with one engine. We had an extra engine, so they had two engines left. So we weren't in any kind of danger as far as doing a nose dive. Whenever you see flames come out of an engine, that's a little bit scary."

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban lent the Bulls the Mavs' plane to fly to San Antonio on Monday night and to return after Wednesday's game. Bulls forward Lou Amundson tweeted his appreciation to Cuban for the lift.

"Our plane broke, @mcuban loaned us his, nice guy...," Amundson tweeted in the early hours of Thursday morning. Cuban later retweeted it.

Wennington said there was no panic on the plane Saturday.

"We turn around, everything was fine, other than that you wouldn't have known -- after the second boom the plane dropped and rattled a little bit -- but other than that you wouldn't have known anything was wrong, and we landed back safely," he said. "There's three engines on the plane, and everything was fine and it worked out, but while it's happening to you up there, and you're looking down and you're 10,000 feet in the air, you're thinking, 'Hmmmm.'

"It was amazing how quiet it was. Everyone was pretty serious about it. Everyone remained pretty calm, but you can see a lot of faces of concern and a couple of Hail Marys going up, but other than that, no [panic]."

The Bulls' plane is expected to be fixed and used for the rest of the season.