The Chicago Bulls are an NBA team based in Chicago, IL. They play on the Eastern Conference, and on the Central Division. The Bulls are one of the best known teams worldwide, much because of their success in the 1990's. IN that time, the Bulls had one of the most dominant and durable dynasties in the NBA's history. That team won six titles in eight years. The 1990's Chicago Bulls were so popular, that they are considered by many to be one of the factors responsible for making the NBA so popular outside of the United States. The team's owner today is Jerry Reinsdorf, the same person who owned the team during the successful 1990's. The team has also seen considerable success after their six titles, having notable players like Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.
The team has been playing in the United Center in downtown Chicago since 1994. The Bulls are constantly selling out games in the United Center, through good and bad times, which gives them one of the best attendances in the NBA overall. Fans attending the games can be sure to see the team's mascot, Benny the Bull. Benny is one of the most popular mascots in the league, and is beloved by basketball fans beyond Chicago. The Chicago Bulls are one of the most traditional teams in the NBA, and the team has never really made any profound changes in its identity, or color scheme, always having the red, black, and white in its uniforms.
In 1966 the Bulls were born, as an expansion franchise in the NBA. The Bulls were actually the third NBA franchise to be created in Chicago, however none of them played in the city at the same time of the Bulls. The name was chosen to honor the city's tradition in meat packing, and the logo was designed to be simple, but to look fierce. The team's logo is the same to this day. Expansion franchises tend to struggle in their first years in the league, but that can't be said about the Bulls. The team posted the best first season ever by any expansion franchise, and qualified for the playoffs in their first season. The franchise's start was surely exciting, however the team would not achieve success quickly. Although qualifying for the playoffs a few times, the team struggled for the biggest part of the 1970's, never being able to actually compete for the NBA title. The team would only start being really competitive in the 1980's.
With the 3rd pick on the 1984 draft the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan, a guard out of the University of North Carolina. The 1984 draft class is considered by many to be the best in history, and the Bulls picked who would become the best player in that draft. Jordan would win the Rookie of The Year award, and be selected to the All-Star Game in his rookie season, an incredible accolade. Jordan's exciting style of play made him loved by Chicago fans, and he was unquestionably a rising star on the league. Jerry Reinsdorf, who had recently bought the team, decided to build the team around his future star. Three years later the Bulls would Scottie Pippen, who next to Jordan would form the Bulls dynasty. Drafting Michael Jordan is the most important moment in the Chicago Bulls' history.
The late 1980's in the NBA marked a transition period in the NBA. While players like Magic Johnson and Larry Bird were aging, new stars were rising, and Michael Jordan was the brightest of them all. However, Jordan, Pippen, and the Bulls couldn't yet beat Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys in the playoffs. The struggles led to a change in coaching; assistant coach Phil Jackson was promoted to head coach in 1989. Jackson at the time was not a big name in coaching, but he would become the mastermind behind the Bulls dynasty, and later on would win a record-breaking 11 NBA titles as an NBA coach. Jackson was the final piece the team needed to win the championship. The "Zen Master", as Jackson is nicknamed, elevated the Bulls to ultimate glory right in his second season in Chicago. The Chicago Bulls would beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA final to win the franchise's first title. As Michael Jordan beat Magic Johnson for his first title, many consider that to be the year where the NBA officially became Jordan's league.
In 1993 the Chicago Bulls had won their third championship in a row (1991, 1992, 1993). They were unquestionably the best team in the league, and not Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, or Phil Jackson had anything else to prove, they were three of the best ever in what they did. While winning their three-peat, the Bulls had dominated every team and every other player in the NBA, including the Lakers and Magic Johnson, the 76ers and Charles Barkley, the Blazers and Clyde Drexler, and the Knicks and Patrick Ewing, with whom the Bulls had built a heated rivalry due to their many exciting playoff series.
After the third title, Michael Jordan's father was murdered in his home state of North Carolina. The brutal crime had a huge impact on Jordan, who was very close to his father. Having won everything there was to win, and suffering with the loss of his dad, Michael Jordan unexpectedly retired from the game of basketball, saying he had lost the desire to play. Even more unexpectedly, Jordan decided to play professional baseball, which had always been his father's wish. Jordan then signed with Chicago White Sox affiliate team, the Birmingham Barons, which was owned by Bulls' owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Given his retirement, Jordan's "23" jersey was retired by the Bulls in 1994, and a statue was erected to honor him in front of the newly opened United Center.
After a year and a half away from basketball, Michael Jordan released a press statement that simply said "I'm back", Jordan was returning to the Chicago Bulls that same season. Although the team was not bad during his time away, the Bulls were naturally not nearly as strong as they were with Michael. Scottie Pippen had carried the team into the playoffs in 1994, but Chicago would end up losing to the New York Knicks. Since his usual number had been retired, Jordan chose to wear 45, his baseball number, on his return to courts. Chicago would qualify to the postseason, but eventually lose in Eastern Conference Semi Finals to the Orlando Magic, who had Center Shaquille O'Neal. During that series, Michael would go back to number 23. It wouldn't take long for Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Phil Jackson to be at the top of league again.
Since losing in the playoffs to the Orlando Magic in 1995, the Chicago Bulls had won three titles in three years, 1996, 1997, and 1998. To those who were saying that Michael Jordan wasn't the same after coming back from his first retirement, it was proof that Jordan had just picked up from where he left, as he went to win the Finals MVP award in all three years.
At the beginning of the 1998 season, the defending champs had the best team in the league, which was centered around Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and coach Phil Jackson. There was a feeling in the air that 1998 would be the last season of the Bulls dynasty; Jackson and team management had been clashing, Pippen wanted a significant contract extension at the end of the season, and it was rumored that Michael Jordan was going to retire for the second time.
Leaving tensions and rumors on the side, the Chicago Bulls posted yet another excellent record, Jordan won his fifth and last league MVP, and the Bulls advanced to the playoffs to face the Utah Jazz, whom they had beaten the previous season. The Jazz had an extremely talented team with Karl Malone and John Stockton, but they were no match to Chicago. In six games the Chicago Bulls handled the Utah Jazz, the championship winning shot was made by Michael Jordan with 6 seconds on the clock, which would become his last shot in a Chicago Bulls jersey. At the end of the season, GM Jerry Krause would retire, Phil Jackson would leave Chicago, Pippen, would request a trade, Michael Jordan would retire, and Dennis Rodman would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers; putting an end to the Bulls dynasty, as it was expected at the beginning of the season. In eight years the team had won six titles, and absolutely dominated the league in the 1990's.
After their last title in 2008, the Chicago Bulls struggled a lot, only reaching the playoffs three times in ten seasons. For the 2008 draft, the team had a 1.7% chance to get the first pick on the draft lottery. The unlikely happened, and in the 2008 NBA draft the franchise picked guard Derrick Rose. Rose would be the centerpiece of the team's new generation, and the main player in a new core. Rose's development in the league was stellar, he became the youngest player ever to win the MVP Award in 2011. With Rose, players such as Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Jimmy Butler, as well as head coach Tim Thibodeau would take the team to deep playoff runs; Chicago would be competitive again. The team reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011, the best finish since 1998.
Although being constantly in the playoffs, the Chicago Bulls never made into the NBA finals after 1998. In 2015, management felt it was time for change, and coach Tim Thibodeau got fired. After that,Derrick Rose was traded in 2016, and Jimmy Butler, who turned into an All-Star player, was sent to Minnesota in 2017. The Chicago Bulls never reached their full potential, much because Derrick Rose never reached his. Rose was plagued with serious knee injuries throughout his career losing much of his speed and explosiveness, which was a big part of his game. Rose, unquestionably one of the great players in NBA injuries, is one of the biggest "what if's" in basketball injury, as his potential was immense. Trading Rose and Butler sent the team into a deep rebuild, looking for young players and draft picks.
Take a look at the Jerseys retired by the Chicago Bulls franchise: