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Diana And Da Bulls: For Chicago, Celebrity Overload

June 6, 1996

CHICAGO (AP) _ Diana and Da Bulls. One town, one day, and two royals in residence put a slight stoop in the City of Big Shoulders on Wednesday.

The rich, famous and powerful had a tough choice: an honest-to-goodness black tie ball with Princess Diana, or a stomping, beer-slugging evening with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in Game One of the NBA Finals.

The Princess of Wales was in town to raise money for cancer research. At a breast cancer symposium, she urged doctors and dignitaries to continue their quest for cancer’s cure. Later, at Cook County Hospital, she shook hands and chatted with patients.

But from the moment she arrived Tuesday, royal watching Chicago-style _ not medical research _ was one of the city’s two major preoccupations.

The city’s other preoccupation, of course, was the royal House of Michael Jordan _ the United Center _ where Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen and the gang were battling the Seattle SuperSonics for the NBA title.

For Jordan’s mother, Deloris, the two events posed a dilemma, but little real contest: Newspaper reports had her choosing an evening with the princess over her son’s game.

Diana is ``the only person I know who can push Michael Jordan from the front page,″ conceded Gov. Jim Edgar, who mingled with Diana on Tuesday. Hundreds stood five-people deep, stared down from neighboring skyscrapers, or sat at the front of police barricades everywhere she visited.

Eleven-year-old Marcel Evans skipped school to snap Diana’s picture. Even so, the fifth grader reckoned he was more of a basketball fan than a Di man.

``I heard about it on television, and I wanted to see Princess Diana,″ said Marcel, dressed head-to-toe in Bulls clothes. ``But I guess I’d rather see the Bulls.″

While the Princess of Wales was carried to and fro in a black Rolls Royce, Jordan depended on his black Porsche, license ``AirOne″ _ or maybe the red Corvette or the Range Rover _ to transport him to the city’s West Side for the game.

Diana was accompanied to an evening gala at the Field Museum of Natural History by Henry Bienen, president of Northwestern University. Cheers rang out as she joined the 1,300 guests, who were invited to dine on salmon and lamb chops in a hall dominated by a Brachiosaurus and two elephants.

Actor Gene Wilder and singers Gloria Estefan and Tony Bennett were on hand along with Mayor Richard M. Daley and his wife, Maggie.

Tickets to both the game and the Field Museum gala were, well, to Di for.

The face-value of courtside basketball seats was $350, although scalpers may have gotten 10 times that. To be a member of Diana’s court, attendees coughed up $50,000 for a table. Lunch and dinner both were included.

Given the choice, Katrina Krause said she would opt for the ball over the Bulls.

``It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,″ said Krause, who left her nearby office 90 minutes before the princess arrived at a Northwestern University breast cancer symposium so as not to miss a glimpse. ``It’s not everyday a princess comes up the street we work on.″

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