Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan, Pippen and the 10 Best Defenders in Team History

Mike B.Correspondent IFebruary 28, 2011

Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan, Pippen and the 10 Best Defenders in Team History

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    Defense wins championships.

    You don't have to explain that to the Chicago Bulls, since they dominated the 1990s by winning six.

    Throughout their 40+ years of existence, the Bulls have had plenty of excellent defenders.

    NBA Defensive Player of the Year winners such as Dennis Rodman, Ron Artest and Ben Wallace have once donned the red, black and white. And don't forget about guys like Charles Oakley and current starting center Joakim Noah.

    This slideshow will feature the 10 greatest defenders in the history of Chicago's famous NBA team.    

    Let's get started.

10. Kirk Hinrich

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    CHICAGO - MARCH 17: Kirk Hinrich #12 of the Chicago Bulls jumps to defend against Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics as Brad Miller #52 assists on March 17, 2009 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls defeated the Celtics 127-121. NOTE TO
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Hinrich is the lone active player on this list.

    The newly-acquired Atlanta Hawks point guard spent his first seven seasons in a Bulls uniform, contributing tenacious perimeter defense.

    Hinrich was named to the All-Defensive Second Team in 2007, joining fellow Bull Ben Wallace. 

    He currently ranks fourth on the Bulls all-time steals list with 655.

9. Ron Harper

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    9 Feb 1999: Steve Smith #8 of the Atlanta Hawks passes the ball as Ron Harper #9 of the Chicago Bulls blocks him during the game at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Hawks defeated the Bulls 87-71.
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Harper signed with the Bulls as a free agent prior to the 1994-95 season.

    He would later join Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman to form one of the NBA's most intimidating defensive units ever.

    A player who normally scored around 20 points per night earlier in his career, Harper focused primarily on defense after joining the Bulls.

8. Bob Love

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    The Bulls acquired Bob "Butterbean" Love in November 1968 in a trade with the Milwaukee Bucks.

    The three-time All-Star would emerge as a fantastic defender in Chi-Town, as he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team in both the 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons.

7. Dennis Rodman

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    19 May 1996: Forward Dennis Rodman of the Chicago Bulls defends against center Shaquille O''Neal of the Orlando Magic during the third quarter of game one of the Eastern Conference Championships at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The Bulls went on
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Rodman is one of the NBA's greatest defenders and quite possibly the best rebounder we've ever seen.

    He won the only two Defensive Player of the Year awards of his career as a member of the Detroit Pistons. However, he was still an extraordinary defender during his three seasons as a Bull.

    Rodman helped Chicago capture three consecutive titles from 1996-98, as he gave opponents nightmares with his strong in-your-face D. 

6. Horace Grant

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    1992-1993:  Forward Marcus Liberty of the Denver Nuggets looks to pass the ball around forward Horace Grant of the Chicago Bulls during a game against the Chicago Bulls at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado. Mandatory Credit: Tim DeFrisco  /Allsport Mand
    Tim DeFrisco/Getty Images

    The 1988 Charles Oakley trade opened the door for Grant to become a full-time starter for the Bulls.

    Grant's aggressive interior defense would play a huge role in the Bulls first three-peat of the 1990s.

    The goggle-wearing power forward ranks among the Bulls all-time leaders in steals, blocks and defensive rebounds.

    His defensive ability helped him become an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve in 1994.

    Grant was an All-Defensive Second Team member twice during his stay in Chicago.

5. Artis Gilmore

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    Following a monstrous five-year career with the ABA's Kentucky Colonels, Gilmore joined the Bulls in 1976. 

    He's the Bulls career leader in blocked shots with an astounding 1,029 and ranks third on the team's all-time defensive rebounds list with 3,851.

    With Gilmore around, teams knew that it wasn't going to be easy to score in the paint against Chicago.

4. Norm Van Lier

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    Current Bull Derrick Rose is arguably the NBA's top point guard today. But long before his arrival, there was another Bulls point guard star—the late Norm Van Lier.

    "Stormin Norman" was a key contributor to the Bulls success in the 1970s, and his defensive ability helped his become a three-time All-Star.

    During his time in Chicago, Van Lier made the All-Defensive First Team three times and the All-Defensive Second Team four times.

3. Jerry Sloan

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    Known mostly for his successful tenure as coach of the Utah Jazz, Sloan enjoyed a great playing career with the Bulls as well.

    His solid defense would help the Bulls reach the playoffs in the team's inaugural season, 1966-67. 

    The two-time All-Star guard played 10 seasons in Chicago, earning a spot on the All-Defensive First Team four times and the All-Defensive Second Team twice.

    Sloan's steals per game average of 2.2 is second on the Bulls all-time list behind Michael Jordan.   

2. Scottie Pippen

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    26 Apr 1996:  Point guard Tim Hardaway #10 of the Miami Heat dribbles up court while receiving defensive pressure by forward Scottie Pippen #33 of the Chicago Bulls during the Bulls first round playoff game against the Heat at the Ubited Center in Chicago
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Many fans refer to Pippen as just Michael Jordan's sidekick.

    However, he was a lot more than a sidekick. He was the NBA's version of Deion Sanders, or in other words, the ultimate lock-down defender.

    Drafted by the Seattle SuperSonics in 1987, Pippen was immediately dealt to the Bulls in a lopsided deal that included Olden Polynice.

    As a Bull, Pippen would make the All-Defensive First Team seven consecutive seasons and was a member of the All-Defensive Second Team once.

    Jordan was the main reason for the Bulls' six championships, but how many would have been won without Pippen's smothering defense?

    Definitely not six.

1. Michael Jordan

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    20 Apr 1996:  Point guard Mark Jackson of the Indiana Pacers fends off the defensive pressure applied by guard Michael Jordan of the Chicago bulls during the first quarter of the Bulls game against the Pacers at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. Man
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Jordan is one of the most unstoppable scorers to ever pick up a basketball. And he wasn't too bad in the defensive department either.

    MJ is one of only five guards in NBA history to win Defensive Player of the Year, as he took home the honors in 1988.

    He was named to the All-Defensive First Team nine times during his career, each time as a member of the Bulls.

    Jordan played the passing lanes exceptionally well, could shut down gifted scorers and had the hops to block shots taken by seven-footers.

    He is widely considered the greatest basketball player of all time—not just because of his offense but also because of his crazy, championship-winning defense.