Chicago Bulls - Greatest Sports Franchises

Chicago’s third basketball team, the Bulls have gone on to greatness since their inception in 1966. Though initially successful, the club struggled through the 1970s and into the ‘80s. However, they managed to choose correctly at the 1984 entry draft, and grabbed superstar Michael Jordan. He became the core of the team and, with Scottie Pippen and Coach Phil Jackson, led this dynasty to a number of championship wins. After his retirement, the team struggled for a while but eventually made their return to prominence. WatchMojo.com continues our series on the Greatest Sports Franchises of All Time with a look at the Chicago Bulls.
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The History of the Chicago Bulls


This is the only NBA team to have won more than 70 games in a single season. We’ll be continuing our series of the most successful sports franchises with a look at the Chicago Bulls.

Early Days


Founded in 1966, the Chicago Bulls are the third National Basketball Association franchise to play in the windy city, following the Packers–Zephyrs and the Stags. Today, they play in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference.

Arenas


Beginning play in time for the 1966–67 season, the Bulls posted the best record by an expansion team in NBA history, and advanced to the playoffs in their inaugural year. After playing their season at the International Amphitheatre, the club moved to Chicago Stadium before finally moving to the United Center in 1994.

Drought in the 1970s and Early '80s


Despite their initial success, the club floundered from the 1970s to the early 1980s. In fact, the simple toss of a coin at the 1979 NBA Draft could have forever changed their fate. General Manager Rod Thorn called “heads” in that toss, and that got the Bulls the second choice. With that they drafted David Greenwood, after Magic Johnson went first. Johnson went on to lead the LA Lakers to a successful 1980s decade. Greenwood’s career lasted twelve unspectacular years and he bounced from team-to team.

Michael Jordan


The Bulls learned from their mistakes and by 1984 they capitalized on their third pick. The Houston Rockets selected Hakeem Olajuwon first overall, and the Portland Trail Blazers drafted Sam Bowie second. The Bulls then pounced on University of North Carolina’s shooting guard Michael Jordan. Immediately, new owner Jerry Reinsdorf and General Manager Jerry Krause began to build a team around this young player.

Six Championships in Eight Years


Jordan was successful from the get-go. But it wasn’t until the Bulls drafted, traded and signed a strong supporting cast that the team really took off. This dynasty’s record includes six championships in eight years, including two three-peats.

Michael Jordan Retires...The First Time


However, in between those three-peats came a shock. Mere months after his father was murdered, Michael Jordan stunned the league and fans alike when he announced he would be retiring. With Jordan gone, teammate Scottie Pippen affirmed himself as one of the best players in the game. He earned the 1994 All-Star MVP, but failed to lead the Jordan-less club to a championship.

Return of Jordan


After the team left the Madhouse on Madison for the United Center in time for the ’94-’95 season, they got the best news possible. In March 1995, a two-word press release announced “I’m back.” And he was. In his fifth game back, Jordan dropped 55 points and went on to help his team to the playoffs. The Bulls were eliminated in the conference semifinals that year, but went on to clinch three more championships from 1995 to 1997.

Star Players


The common factors in all six championships were Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Coach Phil Jackson. The Bulls’ first three-peat ran from 1990 to 1993 and included Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant, John Paxson and B.J. Armstrong; the latter included Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoč and Dennis Rodman.
The status of both the Bulls and Michael Jordan himself single-handedly grew the NBA’s popularity around the world. In fact, the 1998 NBA Finals was the most-watched championship series in NBA history.

End of the Dynasty and Return to Greatness


As all good things come to an end, the Bulls dynasty disintegrated. This sent the franchise into turmoil and kicked off a decade of under-performing. But by the mid 2000s the club made it back to the playoffs and at the end of the decade they returned to prominence after drafting Derrick Rose with the number one pick in the 2008 entry draft.

Team Records


The club holds many records, including the best overall win–loss season record with 72–10 in 1995–96. And, of course Michael Jordan holds numerous individual records and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.

Rivalries


No team this good would be complete without a couple of serious rivalries, and the Bulls are no exception. For years, Chicago has competed fiercely against such teams as the Detroit Pistons, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and the New York Knicks.

Legacy


In their six appearances in the NBA Finals, the Chicago Bulls have never lost. That is just one statistic that proves this team is deserving of its legacy as a successful sports dynasty.
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