25 Biggest March Madness Moments from Chicago Bulls' Roster
An old adage ad campaign once said, "There's no wrong way to eat a Reese's."
True, devouring chocolate takes on many forms. The same does not hold for building a successful NBA franchise.
General managers have a few options. Among them: form a superteam by convincing the game's best players to take less money than they're worth (Miami); pair the game's best scorer with the most dominant big man of a generation (Lakers); play the tank game just right to earn the No. 1 draft pick despite being a good team, then hit the jackpot on little-known European players (San Antonio).
Then there's the Chicago Bulls' philosophy, which seems overly logical and simplistic but is rarely executed nowadays: find winners at the college level. Chicago's roster has seven NCAA championships combined.
And if they haven't made it to the mountaintop as a student-athlete, find the ones who've gotten the closest and proven they belong. The Bulls have two more championship game appearances.
It takes a certain level of professionalism and will power to succeed in Tom Thibodeau's grinder system. The two philosophies were made for each other, and the combination is bearing fruit—Chicago has been one of the NBA's best organizations over the last decade.
In honor of bracket season, and an ode to the GarPax way, here's a trip down memory lane, rehashing 25 of the Bulls players' biggest moments in the NCAA tournament, round by round.
Erik Murphy, Second Round vs. Northwestern State (2013)
Erik Murphy was a three-point specialist at Florida. As a senior, his .453 mark led the SEC in field-goal percentage behind the arc, according to Statsheet.com.
But the 6'10" forward mixed it up in the "second round." Against a smaller Northwestern State, Murphy repeatedly got inside the paint for layups. He attempted just three three-pointers, making two, and led the third-seeded Gators with 18 points as they cruised to a 79-47 win.
Murphy was the most efficient player on the floor, shooting 72.7 percent from the field.
Jimmy Butler, Second Round vs. Xavier (2011)
Jimmy "Buckets" didn't go to a basketball powerhouse, so Marquette's run to the Sweet 16 in 2011 as a No. 11 seed was about the most one could expect.
Butler played a pivotal role in the Golden Eagles' first upset over sixth-seeded Xavier. He contributed 15 of the team's 66 points, second only to Darius Johnson-Odom. Eleven of his points came in the first half, as Marquette built a 33-20 lead. With five rebounds, four assists and three steals, he filled out the stat sheet in typical Butler fashion.
As has become his trademark in the NBA, Butler played lockdown defense on the other team's best scorer. He hounded Tu Holloway, the reigning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, into just five points on 1-of-9 shooting. Marquette coach Buzz Williams admitted that Butler was a player he couldn't afford to take off the court according to David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune, which also seems to be the case with Thibodeau in Chicago.
Jimmer Fredette, Second Round vs. Florida (2010)
Jimmer Fredette spent a lot of time breaking records at Brigham Young. He needed double overtime to tie one against Florida, dropping 37 points in a 99-92 overtime win.
His tally was the most by a BYU player in an NCAA tournament game since Danny Ainge in 1981, and the Cougars needed every one of them.
Coming off 45- and 30-point performances in the Mountain West tournament, Fredette started the game slow for his standards. He scored eight points on just 4-of-9 shooting in the first half and missed his only two three-point attempts.
The second half went very differently. Fredette dropped 19 points, including a game-tying layup with 26 seconds left in regulation.
After being shut out in the first overtime, Fredette hit two big three-pointers and four free throws for 10 points, as BYU pulled away in the second overtime.
Taj Gibson, Second Round vs. Boston College (2009)
Back when the second round was really the first round, Taj Gibson led 10th-seeded USC to a lopsided 72-55 upset over No. 7 seed Boston College.
Gibson had one of the most efficient nights in NCAA tournament history, going 10-of-10 from the field. His 24 points led the Trojans, and he came just one basket short of Kenny Walker's record 11-of-11 night as a Kentucky Wildcat in 1986, per ESPN.com.
Like Butler, Gibson is known for his ability to play multiple positions and do different things on the court. In that fashion, he contributed six rebounds, five assists and three blocks in the winning effort.
After a strong first half in which he scored 11 points, Gibson broke things open in the second. With the game tied at 44, he scored eight points as part of a 14-4 USC run to open a double-digit lead with six-and-a-half minutes to play.
True to his selfless reputation, Gibson said after the game, "We understand that it takes us, as a family, to win games." This came as a refreshing break from the previous year in which one-and-done star O.J. Mayo led the Trojans to a first-round exit.
Jimmer Fredette, Round of 32 vs. Gonzaga (2011)
Like his double-OT win over Florida in the first round the year before, Fredette "struggled" in the first half of BYU's round of 32 matchup against Gonzaga.
He had a hard time finding open looks against the Zags defense, finding his first bucket nine minutes and 30 seconds into the game. Fredette still went 4-of-8 in the first half, all four buckets being three-pointers, totaling 14 points.
He exploded for 20 of his 34 points after the break, and according to Statsheet.com, the Cougars' lead stayed in double digits for all but 70 seconds of the second half.
The win marked BYU's first trip to the Sweet 16 since Ainge led the Cougars all the way to the Elite Eight in 1981.
Jimmy Butler, Round of 32 vs. Syracuse (2011)
Butler was relatively quiet on the offensive end in this 11-3 upset over Syracuse. He managed just 10 points and contributed five rebounds and three assists, though six points came in the final two-and-a-half minutes of the first half, which helped turn a three-point deficit into a three-point lead.
Once again, coach Buzz Williams kept Butler on the floor as long as he could—39 minutes this time. He spent most of that time holding Scoop Jardine in check. Jardine's first basket came with just over four minutes left in the first half. He finished with just six points on 2-of-8 shooting and three turnovers.
The win marked Marquette's first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2003.
Carlos Boozer, Round of 32 vs. Kansas (2000)
Though Carlos Boozer fits the profile of a grumpy old man, he was once a spry freshman logging big minutes at Duke.
In the Blue Devils' round of 32 matchup with Kansas, Boozer recorded a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double to help Duke hang on for a 69-64 win. Incredibly, eight of his boards came on the offensive glass, a far cry from his current offensive rebounding rate.
Contrasting his current fourth-quarter-minutes situation, Boozer sat for just eight minutes in this game and made key plays on offense and defense to seal the victory.
With 53 seconds left, he scored the go-ahead points. Then 30 seconds later, he collected a steal to secure the win.
D.J. Augustin, Sweet 16 vs. Stanford (2008)
Playing out from under Kevin Durant's shadow, sophomore D.J. Augustin led Texas to an Elite Eight berth after a 20-point win over Stanford in front of a home crowd at Reliant Stadium.
Augustin helped the Longhorns overcome the Lopez twins with 23 points. Nine of them came as part of a 23-8 run in the final nine minutes of the game that blew things apart.
He also dished seven assists that led to 18 more points and grabbed five rebounds.
Derrick Rose, Sweet 16 vs. Michigan State (2008)
After a nail-biting 77-74 win over No. 8 seed Mississippi State in the round of 32, many pundits felt confident in choosing Memphis to be the first No. 1 seed going home.
The Tigers responded by dismantling Michigan State 92-74.
Rose led the way with 27 points, five assists and four rebounds.
In what turned out to be a first-half Memphis jam session, Rose threw down his best double-pump reverse a la Dominique Wilkins.
Rose had to leave the game to receive stitches on his eye with the Tigers holding a 34-point lead. The Spartans cut it to 15 before Rose came back and hepled right the ship. He contributed seven points, including three free throws when Spartans coach Tom Izzo dialed up the hack-a-Memphis strategy.
D.J. Augustin, Elite Eight vs. Memphis (2008)
Augustin's last game as a Longhorn didn't go exactly as he had likely envisioned. The star sophomore played 39 minutes and scored 16 points, second to A.J. Abrams' 17. But he needed 18 shots and six free throws to get there.
The whole team struggled, shooting 36 percent on the night, but Augustin was hounded by the guy he has replaced in Chicago this season, Derrick Rose.
Before the Elite Eight matchup against the Tigers, Augustin had a 2.8-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio in seven tournament games. He committed more turnovers (four) than assists (three), as Texas went down 85-67.
Joakim Noah, Elite Eight vs. Villanova (2006)
Joakim Noah led the band of sophomore Gators in what would go down as their big statement game on the road to back-to-back national championships.
His 21 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks paced No. 3 seed Florida to a 75-62 win over top-seeded Villanova and made Florida the tournament favorite heading into the Final Four.
Noah got the Gators going with seven of their first 13 points, then he got back into the scoring swing late. In a surprise twist, 10 of his 14 second-half points came on free throws, and he was 13-of-15 at the line for the game.
His first of several games on this list.
Kirk Hinrich, Elite Eight vs. Oregon (2002)
Believe it or not, Kansas' 104-86 drubbing of Oregon marked its first return trip to the Final Four in 10 years.
The top-seeded Jayhawks put together a balanced effort with five scorers in double figures. Junior Kirk Hinrich fell just shy of recording Kansas' third double-double, scoring 14 points and pulling down nine rebounds.
Within seconds of the opening tip, Hinrich, the Big 12 leader in three-point shooting, had already drained a three. Kansas never trailed after that.
Leading by just six at the half, the Jayhawks eventually stretched the score to 73-59 on Hinrich's floater with less than 10 minutes to play. It was their biggest lead of the night.
A member of the All-Big 12 Second Team and recipient of Kansas' Ted Owens Defensive Player Award, Hinrich locked down the 6'7" Luke Jackson for most of the game. Jackson scored just 10 points on 4-of-16 shooting, and Hinrich matched his career high with five steals.
Joakim Noah, Elite Eight vs. Oregon (2007)
In a 180 degree turn from the Elite Eight a year ago, Florida had a target on its back in 2007. But Noah and his junior teammates took one step closer to vindicating their decision to forgo the NBA draft after their first championship.
Noah chipped in 14 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds—three on the offensive glass—as the Gators rolled No. 3 seed Oregon 85-77. The win gave Florida 16 consecutive postseason wins, stretching over two SEC titles and the 2006 national championship.
Noah got off to a slow start in this one with just five points and five rebounds in the first half, but he came back in the second with nine points and nine rebounds.
Kirk Hinrich, Final Four vs. Maryland (2002)
Despite leading the nation in scoring, Kansas had no answer for the 2002 team of destiny. Maryland rolled to a 97-88 victory that was not nearly as close as the final score would indicate. Kansas coach Roy Williams would go 14 seasons in Lawrence without a championship.
Coming off a 31-minute night against Oregon in the Elite Eight, Hinrich was hampered by a sprained ankle he picked up in the first round. Before the game, Williams acknowledged Hinrich's fatigue due to a lack of practice time.
"He's not 100 percent by any means," Williams said. "He gave me more tired signals in Madison than he has all year. He went nine days without much conditioning."
He did get off to a quick start, hitting two three-pointers in the first four minutes to give the Jayhawks a 10-2 lead. But Hinrich would stay mostly silent for the rest of the night. He finished with 11 points, four rebounds and four assists but fouled out with four minutes to go and his team trailing 85-68.
Carlos Boozer, Final Four vs. Maryland (2001)
Carlos Boozer had a whirlwind of a postseason in 2001. He suffered a broken foot in late February that kept him out of the ACC tournament and the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament.
Upon his return, Boozer managed a total of three points in 44 total minutes against UCLA and USC in the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, respectively.
But with ACC rival Maryland waiting in the Final Four, the team against which Boozer broke his foot, Boozer brought his A-game. He poured in 19 points in 25 minutes off the bench in support of National Player of the Year Shane Battier (25 points) and All-American Jay Williams (23 points).
Duke overcame a 22-point first-half deficit to win 95-84 and march on to the championship game.
Boozer hit a pair of free throws with 4:38 left to give the Blue Devils a 78-77 lead that they would not relinquish. He also made one of the game's most important defensive plays, though the referee's decision was highly questionable.
With under three minutes to go and Duke clinging to an 84-79 lead, Lonny Baxter backed down Boozer in the paint and was whistled for the hold. The replay showed minimal contact between the two.
Boozer scored five points with Baxter on the bench to help seal Duke's win. Coach Mike Krzyzewski called the Blue Devils' interior play the best it had been all year.
Derrick Rose, Final Four vs. UCLA (2008)
In the first Final Four to feature all four No. 1 seeds, Derrick Rose outshone longtime basketball buddy Kevin Love for a shot at the national championship.
Rose poured in 25 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished four assists as Memphis downed UCLA 78-63 in the Bruins' third straight Final Four appearance. It was the Tigers' fourth double-digit win of the tournament, giving them a 15.6-point average margin of victory. Love managed just 12 points.
With a bevy of dribble-drives and quick-stop floaters, Rose put together his own highlight reel of acrobatic baskets in the first half. Memphis went down early but took the lead five minutes in when Derrick Rose blew past Russell Westbrook off a screen for an easy layup. The Tigers held the lead for the remaining 35 minutes.
And when Rose couldn't convert at the rim, he was likely receiving heavy contact. The freshman went to the free-throw line six times, sinking 11 of 12 and all 10 in the second half as Memphis pulled away.
Nazr Mohammed, Final Four vs. Stanford (1998)
Weighing in at 315 pounds as a freshman, Nazr Mohammed had to work his way into shape to get on the floor at Kentucky.
By his junior season, Mohammed dropped to a trim 240 and contributed to the Wildcats' March Madness run in 1998.
Playing most of the game from behind against Stanford, Mohammed came alive with 17 of his 18 points in the second half and overtime, as Kentucky won 86-85. He also grabbed five rebounds and swatted three shots in 24 minutes.
Kirk Hinrich, Championship Game vs. Syracuse (2003)
Normally a knock-down shooter from behind the arc, Hinrich picked a terrible night to hit iron. He went 3-of-12 from long range, but it might have been the deep shot he didn't take that would stick with him.
Hakim Warrick blocked Michael Lee's potential game-tying three with the clock expiring after Hinrich passed up an open attempt from five feet behind the line.
Carmelo Anthony would not be denied a national championship in his one-and-done season at Syracuse.
Blame could be put on a freak ankle twist Hinrich incurred with 12:30 to play. Down 76-67 with under four minutes, Hinrich shook off the injury to score five of his 16 points and feed Nick Collison for a dunk to pull within five.
But Hinrich barely missed another three-pointer with 18 seconds left that could have tied the game. It appeared to be on its way in but went from the back of the rim to the front before rattling out. His desperation three at the buzzer, his last in college, fell short of the rim, and the Orange rushed the floor.
Derrick Rose, Championship Game vs. Kansas (2008)
This might be the most heart-breaking March Madness loss by a Bulls player.
After barreling their way through the first five rounds of the NCAA tournament, the Tigers found themselves in a game where every miss or make mattered. They ended up losing 75-68 to Kansas in overtime
Held to just two points in the first 20 minutes, Rose did everything right for most of the second half. From the 12:16 mark to 4:08, Rose scored six baskets and assisted on another to bring Memphis from down by three to a 56-49 lead.
Rose's wild bank shot at the end of the shot clock was originally ruled a three but overturned upon review. This was key, as he and Chris Douglas-Roberts combined to miss four of five free throws in the final minute of the game, allowing Mario Chalmers to sink his game-tying three.
After making 13 consecutive free throws in the Final Four, Rose missed a particularly crucial free throw with 10.8 seconds that would have put Memphis up by four.
Kansas scored the first six points of overtime. Rose, hampered by a leg problem, missed his only two shots of the extra period in his last collegiate game.
Nazr Mohammed, Championship Game vs. Utah (1998)
Mohammed actually won two championships at Kentucky; however, as an overweight freshman, he never really got on the court for the Wildcats' 1996 run.
But two years later, he shared center minutes with Jamaal Magloire and got the start in the championship game against Utah.
Playing just 13 minutes, Mohammed contributed 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting and grabbed two rebounds as Kentucky prevailed 78-69.
Carlos Boozer, Championship Game vs. Arizona (2001)
Coming off a monster performance in his third game back from a broken foot, Boozer helped Duke secure its first championship in 10 years and the school's third overall.
In a testament to that Duke team's incredible depth, Boozer scored just 12 points in an 82-72 win over Arizona. He played his most minutes since the injury and grabbed 12 rebounds for his fourth and most important double-double of the season.
Knowing what we do now about Boozer, this next sentence will sound strange. Boozer's most important contribution to the championship game was his defense on 7'1" center Loren Woods. Battier began the game on Woods, but the five-inch height advantage allowed him to score 13 points in the first half.
Krzyzewski put Boozer on the floor to start the second half and matched him up with Woods, who only managed seven points with Boozer on him.
Arizona coach Lute Olson praised Boozer's effort: "They were physically strong in terms of Loren not being able to hold his spot," Olson said of Boozer. "The inability to put the ball inside was our undoing."
Mike Dunleavy, Championship Game vs. Arizona (2001)
That Mike Dunleavy Jr. could "slip through the cracks" and lead Duke with 21 points in the national championship game is a testament to that team's depth.
With all of Arizona's attention focused on Battier and Williams, and Mike Dunleavy Sr. watching his son in the stands, Dunleavy dropped in a career-high five three-pointers.
Three of those came on three consecutive possessions to open a 40-37 lead to 49-39. After a small charge by Arizona to cut the lead to 50-48, Dunleavy scored nine of Duke's next 11 points to reopen a 10-point lead.
Dunleavy's 5-of-9 shooting performance from deep came at a perfect time, as he had been a combined 1-of-11 in the previous three rounds.
Joakim Noah, Championship Game vs. UCLA (2006)
Noah announced his championship pedigree in the Gators' 73-57 domination of UCLA.
The sophomore center set NCAA tournament records with six blocks in the championship, five of which came in the first 20 minutes, and 30 in the entire tournament.
He also paced Florida's balanced scoring attack with 16 points and filled the stat sheet with nine rebounds, three assists and a steal en route to being named most outstanding player in the Final Four.
This game was never close, as Florida led by 11 at half and 20 seven minutes into the second. Indicative of this domination, Noah and Al Horford had four dunks apiece.
Noah celebrated by simply laying on his back at half court and letting confetti rain down on him. The NCAA tournament's Most Outstanding Player one-upped himself in the offseason by initially refusing to attend the trip to the White House over his issues with President George W. Bush.
Joakim Noah, Championship Game vs. Ohio State (2007)
Florida became the first team since Duke in 1991 and 1992 to repeat as national champions, outlasting Greg Oden and Ohio State 84-75.
The Gators also made history as the first team to win both the basketball and football championships in the same season, beating the Buckeyes in both competitions.
Noah had a relatively quiet night statistically, contributing eight points, three rebounds and two blocks in limited minutes due to foul trouble. Stopping Oden was higher on the priority list. Though he scored a game-high 25, Oden had to work for every point with Noah, Horford, Chris Richard and Marreese Speights all taking turns defending him.
It was a pure vindication, as Noah gave up the opportunity to be the top overall pick in the NBA draft in 2006 to return for another championship.
Joakim Noah, Championship Celebration (2007)
Everyone loves a momma's boy.