By S.C. Zuba
When I was a kid, I never missed a Chicago Bulls game.
I grew up in what most like to refer to as the glory days of the Chicago Bulls. You know, the 1990s. Day in and day out, the Bulls were on TV in the Zuba household. I credit this completely to my father. He was the biggest Bulls fan I had ever seen. He knew everything there was to know about the Bulls.
He could tell you anything you wanted to know about Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and even Head Coach Phil Jackson. He was a wealth of knowledge, and my brothers and I soaked in everything we could. Even today, I find myself asking my father questions about when the Bulls repeated…or three-peated…or three-peated again.
I was fairly young during this time, so I don’t remember much of the first three-peat. My father is my link to that.
I’m sure that’s where I got my love for Chicago sports. But after Jordan retired in 1998, and the greatest team to ever take the court disbanded, something changed.
The Bulls weren’t on the TV as much. I found myself—like many other die-hard Bulls fans—not caring as much. Even my father, who hadn’t missed a game in nearly a decade, didn’t seem to care as much about the Bulls.
To his and every other Bulls fan’s credit, it’s tough to care about a mediocre team. It doesn’t make you a bad fan, it just means you’re a normal person with normal emotions. It was tough to watch. The magic was gone. People tend to gravitate toward great things and people, and that is understandable.
I think that transition from greatness and mediocrity set the Bulls back a little bit. After the greatest team ever assembled breaks up, it’s tough (almost impossible) to top. I mean, when you go from a team led by Jordan and Pippen, to a team lead by Toni Kukoc and Ron Harper, there is a bit of a drop-off. No disrespect to Kukoc and Harper, of course.
In the 1990s, the Bulls were the greatest team to ever play. They would dominate teams. They had the greatest player to ever play, the greatest wing-man to ever play and the greatest coach to ever coach. It was like nothing ever seen before—and it will never be seen again.
Things were rough following that time, really rough.
But then, the Bulls got Joakim Noah… and then the Bulls got Derrick Rose…and then the Bulls got Carlos Boozer…and suddenly, the Bulls are the No. 1 team in the NBA.
When Rose and Noah paired up, things got exciting again. The Bulls were winning, and the future looked bright—there was light at the end of the tunnel. Turns out, that light at the end of the tunnel was as bright as we all had hoped.
The Bulls are a real contender again. They have a legitimate chance at winning the franchise’s seventh title. Are they as good as they were in the 1990s? No, they probably never will be. But they have something special.
Heck, even Jordan thinks the Bulls have something special, saying: “You guys are in store for a lot of other championships. You look at this team, don’t be surprised if you don’t have six more coming.”
The Bulls will never be what they were in the 1990s, but it’s a brand-new decade, and these Bulls can make history of their own. And they will—just watch.
The Bulls are on TV in the Zuba household again.
Share your thoughts with S.C. Zuba via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the April 20-26, 2011 issue