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Today in Sports History: 1/16 | Chicago is Granted the Bulls

Today in sports history, one of the most storied franchises in NBA history got its start. In 1966, the NBA granted the Chicago Bulls the opportunity to participate in the league.

The Bulls became the third team ever to call Chicago home. The Stags and the Packers/Zephyrs (now Washington Wizards) occupied the city in the past. The Bulls’ story has culminated in six championships with the help of Michael Jordan. When Jordan left the Bulls, the team went into rebuilding mode. Between Jordan’s second retirement and today, the Bulls have sported some solid teams, but never any that had a shot of winning the title.

The closest that the Bulls got was when Derrick Rose won the MVP, the Bulls took the one seed in the East and were projected to challenge the Cavaliers and the Lakers. That all came crashing down when Rose tore his ACL in the playoffs. The Bulls now have an abundance of young talent. The question is, when will it all come together?

chicago bulls today in sports history
Credit: NUCCIO DINUZZO / TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICE VIA GETTY IMAGES

Early Years a Success for Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls immediately etched their name into the NBA landscape, making the playoffs in their first season. The Bulls opened up their roster adding players from the expansion draft, including Guy Rodgers, Jerry Sloan and Bob Boozer.

After fan interest declined a couple of years into existence, the Bulls introduced Benny the Bull as their mascot. He immediately made an impact and has become one of the best-known mascots in sports. The Bulls then added Bob Love, Chet Walker and Norm Van Lier, which resulted in the 1975 Conference Finals appearance where they lost to the Warriors.

As the ABA dissolved into the NBA, the Bulls added Artis Gilmore, who would go on to be one of the best Bulls ever. Chicago partnered Gilmore with Reggie Theus to form one of the more underrated duos in NBA history.

In the 1979 NBA draft, the Bulls lost of coin flip for the number one pick. That pick would eventually be Magic Johnson. With the second pick, Chicago drafted David Greenwood. The Bulls decided to move on from Gilmore and center their offense around Theus. They saw minimal results from this, which resulted in lower fan interest for the team.

Michael Jordan Era Begins in Chicago

As the Chicago Bulls started to reach that stage where the team was declining and they were looking for a spark, the team was presented with a miracle. In the summer of 1984, the Bulls held the third pick in the draft. After the Houston Rockets had selected Hakeem Olajuwon and the Portland Trail Blazers selected Sam Bowie, the Bulls took North Carolina guard Michael Jordan.

Jordan played one year with NBA legend George Gervin, before taking the team over. Jordan’s influence and impact on the sport became monumental. Michael Jordan quickly reached superstardom, including making numerous media appearances and acting in almost every commercial.

The Bulls paired Jordan with Scottie Pippen and with an abundance of role players ripped off a three-peat in the early nineties. Jordan retired to play baseball after the 1993 season. A year and a half later, Jordan returned, where the Bulls lost to the Magic. With many people proclaiming that Jordan was “done” and “washed up,” what did Jordan do? He brought the Bulls to another three championships in a row, winning them all. Jordan retired at the end of the 1998 season. The Bulls moved Pippen and Dennis Rodman as well, culminating in the end of the legendary 90s Bulls teams.

Modern Day Chicago Bulls Struggle to Regain Success

After dismantling the team with one of the greatest eight-year stretches in the sports, times turned dark for the Bulls. Chicago attempted to get back on top by trading for and drafting a flurry of players including Brad Miller, Elton Brand, Jamal Crawford and LaMarcus Aldridge. After circumstances with each player didn’t work out, the Bulls were presented with the number one pick in the 2008 NBA draft.

The Bulls selected Derrick Rose, giving the city another generational player to rally around. Chicago built the team around Rose, including using players like Luol Deng, Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. It all came together when Tom Thibodeau was signed to coach the team. The apex of the Rose era came in 2011, when Rose was named the youngest MVP in NBA history. Coming into the playoffs as the one seed, Rose tore his ACL late in the fourth quarter of the first game against the 76ers. The Bulls were eventually eliminated from the playoffs, becoming the fifth team to be eliminated as a one seed by an eight seed. Rose was never the same, as knee injuries piled on.

The team eventually moved on from Rose and company and found themselves towards the bottom of the East for many years. Tides look like they are going to change. The Bulls currently feature a roster consisting of Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Nikola Vucevic. Is this enough to get the Chicago Bulls back to prominence?


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