We all know the Chicago Bulls of the nineties, who they won six titles (a three-peat between 1990 and 1993, as well as another between 1996 and 1998), commanded by Michael Jordan, extraordinary player with many physical and tactical abilities, in addition to other players such as Scottie Pippen and the coach Phil Jackson.
But after that sixth ring, the Bulls faded and they haven’t even played other finals. What was the cause of this Chicago downturn?
If we take into account the time that Michael Jordan was on the team (not considering how long he was gone since his first retirement), the Bulls had 657 wins and 337 losses, for an effectiveness of 66.09%.
Without Jordan, the Bulls have suffered: they are 780 victories and 959 defeats, with an effectiveness of 43.59%. All this is without considering the current season, in which they are in ninth position, with good performances from Zach LaVine, but not a player who can accompany him to generate more danger and make the Bulls a true contender.
The lockout, Jordan’s retirement and a bad generational change
For this you have to go first to 1998, after the sixth Larry O’Brien trophy for the franchise. Jerry Krause, general manager of the Bulls, kept his word and began restructuring the team, to the point where only Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper, Rusty LaRue, Dickey Simpkins and Bill Wennington remained from the team that won the Finals against the Utah Jazz.
The movement from the desk was resounding, as Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson retired (they returned years later to the Washington Wizards and the Los Angeles Lakers, respectively), while Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets and Dennis Rodman released. , with which he signed with the Lakers.
For the 1998-1999 campaign, Krause led the roster change, with the goal of reinvigorating Chicago and entering the 21st century with a new generation. But the plan did not work and the Chicago Bulls have not returned to emulate the success that they were known under the Jordan era.
Much of the drop was due to the 1998 lockout, in which the schedule was shortened to 50 games and free agency was a very short hiring period, making it difficult to put together a competitive team after MJ’s retirement. With Tim floyd As a new coach, they won 13 games, lost 37 and had a 26% effectiveness.
It was the end of 14 consecutive postseason seasons, plus the beginning of a series of ups and downs for the Chicago Bulls. Toni Kukoc, who was chosen by the Bulls in the 1990 Draft and who made it to the NBA until three years later, was the one who carried the offense, with an acceptable average of 18 points, but without what it takes to bring the team to the fore.
After the failure, they sought to rebuild the project through the Draft and some players that would help consolidate the young people. In the Draft they recruited Elton brand, the first global selection and product of Duke University, in addition to Ron Artest (selection 16), which sought to form a winning duo.
Although Brand had a great debut year and was recognized as Rookie of the Year, collectively the team was still not performing, with 17 wins and 65 losses, with an ERA of 20.7%.
After the 1999-2000 season, Kukoc left and Bruce Bowen arrived, who was cut a few weeks later. Their trade also gave them a draft pick that Chris Mihm came up with. It was four years that they were at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, while Tim Floyd was replaced on the bench by Bill Berry and then by Bill cartwright, who was part of the team that won the first three rings of the franchise and has been in Chicago since 1996 as an assistant coach.
The Bulls still did not lift and did not leave the bottom of the table. The free agency of 2000 was complicated, because they could not even sign stars like Tim duncan or Tracy mcgrady, who did not trust the Bulls project.
Arrival of Paxson, Derrick Rose and the short-lived rebirth
For the 2002 Draft, the Bulls selected Jay Williams with the second pick, plus Donyel Marshall came via free agency. Jerry Krause was relieved by John paxson as general manager of Chicago due to health complications, leaving office after 26 years.
Paxson commanded an era of improvement: especially since the team returned to the playoffs in 2005, where they were eliminated by the Washington Wizards in the first round. They returned to the playoffs twice more in a row and missed a year. They were better years in which players like Joakim Noah, Kirk Hinrich, Ben Gordon, Luol Deng and Derrick Rose, perhaps one of the greatest figures to emerge recently from Chicago.
Rose was drafted by Chicago in 2008, heading into Paxson’s final season in management. It was of immediate impact, being recognized as 2009 Rookie of the Year and 2010-2011 Regular Season MVP, being the youngest MVP in NBA history to date, at 22 years and six months at the time.
Derrick Rose’s MVP year was also the one they came closest to returning to the glories of yesteryear. The Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference finals, where they lost in five games to the Miami Heat, who had a treble of fear with Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Rose’s injury and subsequent descent
Despite the elimination, there was hope in Chicago for better results. But Rose’s injury to her left knee was the beginning of the end. During Game 1 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Rose had to leave with medical assistance, 1:22 to finish said game of the first round of playoffs and with a 12 point advantage.
The MRI indicated that it was a anterior cruciate ligament tear and took him out of the playoffs. The Bulls were eliminated in six games by Philadelphia and Rose has not been the same again, absent in the 2012-2013 season and with another series of injuries that did not allow him to carry the Bulls to even the Conference Finals. A blow to the Bulls, who with Rose at their peak, came to lead the East in both the elimination season vs. the Heat, and the injury vs. the Sixers.
They were years of ups and downs, as players like Joakim Noah were recognized as Defender of the Year (2014) and Jimmy Butler (today a fundamental piece of the Miami Heat) was decorated as the Player with the Most Progression in 2015.
The Bulls attended the playoffs between 2009 and 2015, but eventually lost key players such as Rose (who went out to the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons, and back to the Knicks) , Noah (currently a free agent, after spending with the Knicks, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers) and Butler, who has been the best maintained, with Minnesota, Philadelphia and Miami, with whom he reached the last Finals.