Chicago Bulls All Time Roster

STARTING LINEUP :

C. Artis Gilmore

P.F. Dennis Rodman

S.F. Scottie Pippen

S.G. Michael Jordan

P.G. Derrick Rose

BENCH :

C. Horace Grant

P.F. Bob Love

S.F. Chet Walker

S.G. Jerry Sloan

P.G. Norm Van Lier

S.G. Reggie Theus

S.F. Toni Kukoc

CENTERS :

At center I picked Artis Gilmore. Artis is definitely the best true center that the Bulls ever had and by far. Five time All Star during his five years in Chicago (Eleven time All Star overall during his career) Artis is usually unfairly forgotten by many people when asked about the greatest players but he is definitely up there with all the best centers of All Time. The level at which he played during his ABA years (with the Kentucky Colonels) is absolutely outstanding and, if he wasn’t quite as dominating in his NBA years, he was still fantastic nonetheless. It is just too bad that he was too lonely in his Bulls years.. Had he arrived in Chicago a bit earlier, when Love, Walker, Sloan and Van Lier were playing together I am sure that he (along with the four players I mentioned) would have won an NBA championship. At the exception of the Jordan era, there is no Bulls team that was better than the ones with Love, Walker, Sloan and Van Lier in the first part of the 70’s. They made two WCF (yes the Bulls were a Western team at the time) together and even forced the Warriors (who won the ring that year) to a game 7 (lost only by 4) in the 1975 WCF. Amazing team that most people tend to forget about as the first thing they think about when they think about the Bulls is Michael Jordan.

I picked Horace Grant as his back up. Horace was rather a PF but he could play C, he actually did it several time through his career. The General was the third best player (right behind Jordan and Pip) during the first Three Peat years. Excellent defender and very good mid range shooter Grant was by far the best inside player during those years and there is no doubt that the Bulls would not have won without him.

POWER FORWARDS :

At PF I picked Dennis Rodman. It is impossible to say that Rodman’s best years were in Chicago (they were clearly in Detroit) as Dennis started slowly to get out of his prime in Chicago and only played three years here but he still had some absolutely amazing years in Chicago which is why most people think first of Chicago when they hear the name Dennis Rodman. The fact is that Rodman had a huge impact on the Bulls. When we look at it ALL the key players of the 96 squad were already there in 95. All of them except… Rodman. Well without Rodman the Bulls lost in the semis against the Magic. You add Rodman to that team and they win three rings in a row. Now I know that Jordan was not truly back to his best self yet in the 95 playoffs but that still shows us how important Rodman was to that team. Dennis even had the most unbelievable performance of his career in Chicago, I am talking of course of the 1996 NBA Finals. The way he played against Kemp and Brickowski. Especially Brickowski who was just totally annihilated by The Worm.. George Karl even said that Rodman won two games by himself in this series, games 2 and 6, he tied and NBA record in both games by grabbing 11 rebounds each time, and on top of that he scored 5 points in a decisive 12-2 run for the Bulls and literally unnerved Kemp. Many think that Rodman should have been Finals MVP that year. I am one of them. Especially that Jordan had his less good performance in the Finals that same year.. Still unbelievable performance though, don’t get me wrong, and it is impossible to say that Jordan did not deserve it but I think that Rodman deserved it a bit more. Well Jordan and Rodman should have been co MVP in fact, that would have been perfect. Rodman was a fantastic player, a case can even be made for him as the best defender of All Time. His main strenght was his versatility, as a matter of fact he could defend on any player on the court, no matter the position. Only Bill Russell can be considered as a better defender in my opinion.

I picked Bob Love as his back up. Bob was a swingman, could play both SF and PF, although his main position was rather SF but he started at PF during his Bulls years, Walker being the SF. Before Jordan’s arrival, Love was the best player that the Bulls ever had. A three times All Star and three times named in the All Defensive team during almost eight years in Chicago, Love led the Bulls to the playoffs six times in a row, he’s the first player to ever lead the team to the CF. He was the leader of the team that, as I already said, almost beat the Warriors in the 75 WCF.

SMALL FORWARDS :

At SF I picked Scottie Pippen. Clearly the best SF the Bulls ever had, he’s actually one of the very best SF of the history of the game. Many consider him as the best defensive SF ever, a lot of people even consider him as the best wing defender of All Time (I agree that a case can be made for him but it is arguable). Pip is definitely one of the most versatile player ever, he just could do everything on a basketball court. Pippen was not a leader, he never succeeded as the leader of a team and was never particularly efficient in the clutch. He was a second leader, a lieutenant. It’s true. But a fantastic one and if you want my opinion clearly the best second leader of All Time. People often say that Pip would have never won without Jordan well the fact is that Jordan never won without Pip at the same time though.. Now of course Jordan was clearly the leader, the most important player of the Bulls and it is definitely not arguable. But still Pippen was very important to the team and there is no doubt that the Bulls would have never won without him. Besides, even if he was not what we can call a true leader, it is important to remember that he actually did quite well as the Bulls’ leader in 1994. As a matter of fact, after Jordan’s first retirement, Pippen became the leader of the team and led them to 55 wins (fifth best team of the regular season). And during the playoffs his Bulls forced the Knicks to a game 7 in the semis. The same Knicks who forced the Rockets to a game 7 in the Finals and lost that game by only 6.. So we definitely can assert that Pippen was VERY close to lead the Bulls to a ring that year. By the way I think that we can assert that this 94 year is the best of his career, I mean individually, the 7 time All Star was even All Star MVP that year.

As his back up I picked Chet Walker. Chet is probably best remembered as the starting SF of the 67 Sixers (considered by many as the best team of All Time) but it is very important not to bypass his years in Chicago. As a matter of fact he had some terrific years in Chicago, the forward duo he formed with Bob Love is one of the best we’ve seen in the NBA. 4 time All Star in his Chicago years he never averaged less than 19.2 PPG and 5 RPG.

(I could not find a video of Walker’s highlights so I decided to put the second half of the most important game of the 70’s Bulls, game 7 of the 75 WCF (which they lost by 4 as I already said), which is also the last game of Walker as a Bull)

SHOOTING GUARDS :

 At SG I obviously picked Michael Jordan. Obvious choice here as not only he is the best Bulls player ever but most people even consider him as the best basketball player of All Time. When Jordan arrived in Chicago the Bulls were not at their best. They had made the playoffs only twice in the last 9 years and they hadn’t made the playoffs at all for three years in a row. And they only had won 27 games the preceeding years. Yet one of the first things that Jordan said when he arrived was that with him the Bulls would make the playoffs every year. And he kept that promise. During his 13 years with the team the Bulls did not miss the playoffs one time. So he kept that promise but he actually did even better : he’s the first one to ever lead the Bulls to the Finals and to make them a ring, not only that he made the Bulls the third best franchise of the history of the game with 6 rings (only the Celtics, with 17 rings, and the Lakers, with 16, have won more championships). Thanks to him the Bulls also became the third franchise to ever win three rings in a row, which they did twice. Had he not retired in 93, who knows how many they would have won in a row.. I am not saying that they would have won 8 rings in a row for sure, like the Celtics did in the 60’s, but they might have, impossible to say the opposite. Well anyway 14 times All Star (12 in Chicago), Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, twice Dunk Contest champion, twice Olympic champsion, 10 time scoring leader, 3 time steals leader, 10 time All NBA first team, 9 time All Defensive first team, 3 time All Star MVP, 5 time MVP, 6 time Finals MVP… It is just impossible to have a better career than that.

As his back up I picked Jerry Sloan. Yes before he became the Utah Jazz most well known coach Jerry was known as « The Original Bull », as he was the first player to be picked by the Bulls during the expansion draft. A huge defender (one of the very best of All Time) Sloan led the Bulls to the playoffs in their first years in the league, and he spent 10 of his 11 years in the NBA in Chicago. He was All Star twice and made the playoffs 8 years.

POINT GUARDS :

 At PG I picked Derrick Rose. I hesitated a bit about including Derrick in the starting lineup. Because as talented as he is (and he sure is) he still has not reached his prime yet and still has a lot to prove (and he definitely has to work on his defense). The way he played in the last playoffs is a prove of that.. But I eventually decided to make him a starter in that team because he is clearly the best PG that the Bulls ever had (even though he is a combo guard and actually rather has the game of a SG). Impossible to say the opposite. He is already a MVP and it is just impossible to say that he did not deserve it. He was a bit disappointing in the playoffs but he was outstanding in the regular season. He is the first reason why the Bulls had the best record of the league last year, the way he carried the team on his shoulders during the season was amazing. Rose definitely showed us last year that he could, and certainly will, become one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball.

I picked Norm Van Lier as his back up. At the exception of Rose Stormin’ Norman is clearly the best PG that the Bulls ever had. 3 time All Star with the Bulls he is one of the greatest defenders we ever seen. His duo with Jerry Sloan is one of the best backcourt of defenders of All Time, they gave a new dimension to defense.

11th & 12th SPOTS :

 For the last two spots I picked Reggie Theus and Toni Kukoc. Reggie Theus was formed with Gilmore a very exciting duo during the late 70’s/early 80’s, between the Love-Walker-Sloan-Van Lier era and the Jordan era. Both players were sadly too lonely to achieve anything. A two time All Star, both times during his Bulls years, Reggie clearly had the best years of his career in Chicago.

 

Toni Kukoc was an amazingly talented player. Unfortunately he never really reached the maximum of his potential. He was too soft and lacked of regularity to become a leader. But he still had a fantastic career, especially in his Bulls days. He was a key player of the second three peat Chicago Bulls. And he was the third best scorer of the time (behind Jordan and Pip) every year. Even if he was on the bench he was still clearly the fourth best player of the team (behind Jordan, Pip and Rodman). Phil preferred to have him on the bench because of his versatility. As a matter of fact the Croatian Sensation could play C, PF, SF and SG. Although he definitely felt more comfortable at SF, his true position. For the biggest disappointment of Jackson who rather wanted to use him at PF.. Kukoc was also the best player and leader of the team after the departure of Jordan-Pippen-Rodman (but he was too alone to do anything) and he was also clutch. We all remember about the Pippen incident during the 94 semis against the Knicks, when the Knicks led by one point at the end of game 3 and the Bulls had a last chance to win the game. And Phil decided that Kukoc would take the last shot instead of Pip (despite the fact that Pip was the leader and Kukoc a rookie..) which particularly angered Pippen and Scottie decided not to go back on court. Kukoc took and hit this shot nonetheless.

 I think that Oakley and Paxson would have deserved to be mentioned in that roster but I just couldn’t put them above any of the players I mentioned above. Oak was Jordan’s most valuable teammate during his first years in the league but he didn’t stay long in Chicago, he never reached his prime before his Knicks days and the Bulls never went beyond the first round of the playoffs with him on the team. As for Pax, he spent most of his career in Chicago, he was already a Bull at the time they were far from being the best team in the league, he was the starter of the team when the Bulls won their first two rings and he made them win a ring with one of the most unbelievable clutch shot ever, at the end of the game 6 of the 93 Finals in Phoenix. But he was still a role player and just not as talented as all the players I mentioned in that roster.

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