No Bull Here: The 15 Best Games in Chicago Bulls History
The Chicago Bulls have not been the most storied franchise in the NBA, but the tradition the team has is among the upper echelon.
Since 1966, the Windy City has been home to some of the games' best: Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Norm Van Lier, Chet Walker, Jerry Sloan, among others. Great coaches such as Phil Jackson and Dick Motta have also manned the sidelines.
The Bulls have won 1,785 games, as well as 161 in the playoffs. Chicago has also won each of their six NBA Finals appearances.
How do you pick just 15 games and call them the best? A lot of research, honestly. The list will include the most important games in team history, so look for a healthy dose of playoff games, as the postseason carries a large magnitude to win with them. The list will span the entire 45-year history of the team, so this is not an ode to the teams of the 1990's.
Let's take a look at the games that make you glad to be a fan of what ESPN calls the fourth best franchise in basketball.
15. November 4, 1973 Vs. Buffalo Braves
As odd as it may sound, this game was pretty important.
The 1973-74 teams won 54 games, including two streaks of 10 games or more. This particular game against the Buffalo Braves was the ninth consecutive win during a streak that reached 12 games.
It was also played across the border in Canada.
The Buffalo Bills of the NFL have dabbled with playing games recently in Toronto, but clearly were not the first team in Buffalo to do so.
This team featured Bull greats such as the aforementioned Van Lier, Sloan, Bob Love, and eventual NBA coach Rick Adelman.
Chicago beat the now defunct Braves 101-95 in overtime.
14. April 21, 1996 Vs. Washington Bullets
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History was made on the final day of the 1996 season.
72 wins, 10 losses.
What makes this game so special outside of the obvious was that Chicago lost a heart-breaker to the rival Indiana Pacers the previous day. Mental toughness was something the best team in NBA history had.
Chicago won 103-93, despite a 27 point, seven rebound effort by Bullet forward Juwan Howard.
13. October 15, 1966 Vs. St. Louis Hawks
It was only the beginning, but the newly franchised Chicago Bulls hit the road in their first game as a team and took out the St. Louis Hawks, 104-97.
The Bulls started out their first season with a three-game win streak in part thanks to players like Sloan and Guy Rodgers (pictured).
Sloan, Rodgers, and Bob Boozer all averaged 17.5 points per game or higher that season. Despite a nice start, Chicago finished the season 33-48.
12. 2009 Playoffs: 1st Round, Game 6 Vs. Boston Celtics
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
1998 was the last time Chicago played a heart-felt postseason game until the opening round series against the Boston Celtics in 2008.
Four of the seven games went into overtime, two went into at least double overtime, and the best game of that series, Game 6, went into an otherworldly triple overtime.
This was also Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah's breakout party. His famous dunk on Paul Pierce signaled the end of the game, and an unexpected 7th game in a series in which many experts expected Chicago to break under the pressure of the "Big Three" in Boston.
John Salmons was good for 35 points in Game 6, and Boston's Ray Allen shot 9-18 from behind the arc, scoring 51 points. Six players played at least 50 minutes.
Despite losing this series, Chicago showed that the team was headed in the right direction.
11. 1997 NBA Finals: Game 6 Vs. Utah Jazz
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The Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz played some of the best playoff games of the last 30 years, including the series clinching Game 6.
Late in the game, the Jazz were keyed in on making sure that Michael Jordan could not win the game for the Bulls, trapping him. So in true Jordan spirit...he passed the ball instead of taking the shot last second.
Steve Kerr, the sharpshooter of the second three-peat in Chicago, buried the ball with the game-winning trey. Chicago won the game 90-86 after Toni Kukoc put home a dunk for good measure.
One year after winning 72 games and a ring, the 69-win Bulls added a second championship, and were one year away from a second three-peat.
10. 1992 NBA Finals: Game 1 Vs. Portland Trailblazers
Chicago was defending their first championship in team history, and MJ started off the NBA Finals hot to say the least.
Jordan shot 15-27 from the field, including 6-10 from the three point line in a 122-89 drubbing of Portland. When you are hot, you are hot. All you can do is shrug it off as if you have no control over it.
MJ also shut down Clyde Drexler, who shot a meager 5-14, a 36 percent clip.
Despite the smack-down, Chicago would lose two of the next three against the Trailblazers before winning the series in six.
9. 1991 NBA Finals: Game 5 Vs. Los Angeles Lakers
One of the best moments in sports: celebrating with family
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It took 25 years for Chicago to rack one of the most important firsts in team history.
Chicago had to beat a still impressive L.A. Lakers team before they could clinch their first championship. The Bulls, led by Jordan, did so in dominating fashion.
Chicago lost Game 1, but swept the next four. Scottie Pippen and MJ put up 32 and 30 points, respectively. Interesting note about the Bulls in that game, Chicago only shot three threes, making two of them.
No one knew what this championship would do for the Bulls, the players, and the city of Chicago at the time. In retrospect, it sparked one of the greatest runs by a team in a decade.
8. 1973 Western Conference Finals: Game 6 Vs. Los Angeles Lakers
"Stormin'" Norman may be one of the best shut down guards in the history of the game. When he and Jerry Sloan were manning the backcourt, no one was safe.
Back in the day, there were only the semi and conference finals. This was also when Chicago was a team in the west.
The Bulls had a dog of a test in facing the Lake Show. Jerry West, Bill Bridges, and Gail Goodrich were among the many famous names on the 1973 squad. You could say that Game 6 was Van Lier's crowning moment as a Chicago Bull.
Without Chet Walker, who was out with a leg injury, Van Lier led Chicago to victory, forcing a Game 7 against a stacked team. "Stormin'" took out the shooting prowess stars like West, swiping the ball 10 times in the game.
Chicago ended up losing the series, but Van Lier has been quoted as saying it would have been "a huge notch in our belts."
The magnitude of his play in the game and series make this a truly memorable game for the young franchise.
7. March 28, 1995 Vs. New York Knicks
Source: B-Ball Video
What better place to see Michael Jordan return to glory than against the hated New York Knicks.
Not only was Jordan donning the new "45," he was also gracing the air with his presence.
55 points in the "Gahden" is a great way to show you still got it. He also shot a healthy 57 percent from the field on 21 of 37 shooting.
All of Chicago took a collective breath and thought, "Thank God he quit baseball."
The Bulls won 113-111 thanks to MJ scoring almost half of the team's points.
6. 1986 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Game 2 Vs. Boston Celtics
Chicago never stood a chance in the series. Two games were decided by 18 points or more. How is the game ranked so high?
Two words: History. Breakout.
The only game Chicago made interesting was Game 2 against the heavily favored Celtics. The Bulls could barely win 30 games that season, and only had Jordan for 18 games overall.
Despite this huge disparity in talent, MJ led Chicago with an NBA playoff record 63 points in a 135-131 double-OT defeat. Being a pretty fresh face in the league, no one could have imagined that the greatest of all-time (although not yet) would have showcased his talents against a stout Larry Bird-led Celtic team.
From this game on, the Association took notice of the 6'6'' guard from North Carolina.
5. 1989 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Game 5 Vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
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Imagine the look on Craig Ehlo's face (pictured), and times that disappointment by the number of Cleveland Cavaliers fans there are.
The Bulls and Cavs had many great battles as the Bulls continued to rise in the east. Game 5 of this best-of-five was the perfect example.
A nail-biter from the get go, neither team wanted to lose, especially Cleveland, who had already lost to Chicago on their home court to start the series. The match-up alternated wins.
Guess who won Game 1?
The shot over Ehlo has also lead to arguably the greatest call in Chicago Bulls history.
4. 1997 NBA Finals: Game 5 Vs. Utah Jazz
Does MJ really look like he had the flu?
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With the series tied at two games a piece, the action headed back to Utah. The big question heading into the game was surrounding around Michael Jordan's health.
Greatness put that to rest.
Despite lingering effects of the flu, His Airness rose to the occasion by pouring 38 points on 48 percent shooting to help eek out a 90-88 victory over the Jazz.
Scottie Pippen had a double-double, and Toni Kukoc was 3-for-4 from behind the arc. Utah managed to have four players score in double figures, which was one of the many reasons why they were a team few could handle in the mid to late 1990's.
After the game, a clearly exhausted MJ was seen leaning on wing man Scottie Pippen, another great image from the great run Chicago had in the decade.
3. 1993 NBA Finals: Game 4 Vs. Phoenix Suns
This is Paxson draining buckets two days after his first game clincher
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John Paxson made an even bigger name for himself in the 1993 Finals.
With Game 4 hanging in the balance, and MJ already pouring in 55, someone needed to step up. Leave it to the sharpshooter to put the final bullet in the target.
If Chicago would have lost Game, the series would be even, and that is something you do not want against the best perimeter shooting team of the season.
It proved to be a pivotal win, as Phoenix won Game 5, leaving it up to none other than J-Pax to clinch the series at on the road.
2. 1993 NBA Finals: Game 6 Vs. Phoenix Suns
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This game sounds strangely familiar...
Another nail-biter for the Bulls. It is time to clinch the series, or waste another great Jordan effort and go back to lethal Phoenix and face another barrage of three-pointers.
Chicago's sharpshooter silenced everyone with his late dagger to give the Bulls a 99-98 lead.
Phoenix had a shot to steal the game from the jaws of defeat. The man with the goofy goggles, Horace Grant, swatted the final attempt, locking up the series, and the first hint of a dynasty since the Celtics of the early 1960's.
1. 1998 NBA Finals: Game 6 Vs. Utah Jazz
What else can be said?
Every Bulls fan knows where they were when he pushed off of Byron Russell to put the final dagger in the heart of the Utah Jazz.
The moment was truly bittersweet. A second three-peat would be later overshadowed by the departures of Jordan, Phil Jackson, and just about everything except the kitchen sink.
The Bulls have never been the same, but this one lasting shot will reign forever in the hearts the faithful fans.
It has to make you shiver now looking at it.