Any sports fan can relate to connecting with their favorite players. Often a sports fan's favorite player is on the team in one’s home city. Teams develop rivals from other cities, and developing a healthy hatred for your team’s rivals and their players is what makes sports go around.
The NBA is a business, and that is what also makes the game go around. Fans are often asked through trades, free agency, 10-day contracts and waiver claims to embrace players they once rooted against. These seven players made Chicago Bulls fans scratch their heads, as they looked awkward in the team jersey. Through the eyes of many fans, these guys were not a fit.
A thorn in the side of the Chicago Bulls during early 1990’s, John Starks was not a Bulls fan favorite. He was charged with guarding Michael Jordan as a member of the New York Knicks. While no one on the planet could stop Michael Jordan, he managed to frustrate Jordan and cause problems.
His physical style and animated demeanor raised images of the Detroit Bad Boys. Shortly after the 1998-99 NBA lockout, John Starks became a Chicago Bull. He played only four games with the Chicago Bulls and wore No. 9. One would be hard pressed to find a photo of him in a Bulls Uniform, but it made for a head-scratching four games.
While Brent Barry was a decent shooting guard, he had the misfortune of filling the position a year after Michael Jordan retired in 1998. Brent Barry was going through a transformation at the time. No longer the high-flyer who won the Slam Dunk Contest in 1996, he was a steady jump-shooting veteran who did not play defense well. This profile was not welcomed in Chicago just after the Jordan era.
Greg Anthony represented another rival New York Knicks guard playing for the Chicago Bulls after the Jordan era. Anthony was a veteran guard when the Bulls picked him up. His role on the team was to provide leadership to the younger guards on the team.
Jamal Crawford was at the beginning of his career, and the thinking was Anthony’s defensive toughness would rub off. In the end, Anthony played a portion of that season with the Chicago Bulls. The Bulls backcourt was a carousel of young players and cast-off veterans. Greg Anthony was lost in the fold and became a head scratcher.
To be clear, Dennis Rodman would look strange in any jersey. In the mid-to-late 1990’s, it was tough to predict Dennis Rodman’s hair color from game to game. As a Detroit Piston, Dennis Rodman was hated by Chicago Bulls fans. He was a relentless defender, and according to many Chicago Bulls fans, his playing style was dirty. He epitomized the Detroit Piston Bad Boy brand.
But after a trade leading into the 1996 season, the Chicago Bulls fans took to Rodman. While he became a fan favorite, the tension with Rodman’s Bad Boy days in Detroit was still beneath the surface. Colored hair aside, he was tough to watch as a Chicago Bull. However, championship success diminished the awkwardness of seeing No. 91.
Prior to 1998, the Chicago Bulls had not played in an elimination game in the playoffs since 1992, against the New York Knicks. The Indiana Pacers in 1998 pushed the Chicago Bulls to the limit. The Pacers played a physical game along the front line. In the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals, Chicago Bulls fans had Pacers Dale Davis and Antonio Davis to thank for the series' physical play, which stretched their team.
Antonio Davis joined the Chicago Bulls, in part to provide the same physical play and develop Eddy Curry and Tyson Chandler. He performed his job as a professional and provided veteran leadership for the Chicago Bulls. Based on the rival and the hard fouls still in the minds of many Bulls fans, this was a strange fit.
Trent Tucker joined the Chicago Bulls to make up for the loss of sharpshooter Craig Hodges. After the second NBA championship in 1992, the Bulls organization and Craig Hodges parted ways over philosophical differences. Many Bulls fans were left puzzled because Hodges was still a valuable contributor and showed no signs of decline.
When Trent Tucker was with the New York Knicks, he made history by hitting a game-winning shot against the Chicago Bulls after the ball was inbounded with one tenth of a second left.
The NBA determined a few years later that hitting a shot with that amount of time is impossible. Today, thanks to the Trent Tucker Rule, there must be at least four tenths of a second for a jump shot to occur. Otherwise, teams have to resort to a tip-in at the rim.
It was strange seeing the man who made NBA history at the Chicago Bulls' expense get a championship ring with that team in 1993.
Picked up by the Bulls late in 1997 on a 10-day contract, Brian Williams eventually helped the team to an NBA championship off the bench.
Picking him up was strange because the Bulls did not have a need at his position. Williams was a holdout seeking a lucrative deal during the 1996 offseason, and this situation was strange because it seemed like the Bulls and Williams cut a deal to help both sides.
The following year, Williams got a lucrative deal from the Detroit Pistons, as the Bulls were not going to sign him beyond the 1997 championship run. Therefore he looked strange in the jersey. It was like hiring a late-season mercenary.
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