Raptors' Fred VanVleet Talks Michael Jordan, Bulls' Legacy Amid 'The Last Dance'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMay 3, 2020

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) handles the ball during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said Sunday he thinks the 1990s Chicago Bulls are the most influential team in NBA history.

"Legendary. I think they gotta be at the top of most influential teams," VanVleet said Sunday on SportsCenter. "Mike obviously had a lot to do with that, but even Phil Jackson, Scottie. A lot of those guys, Steve Kerr. You see, just the guys who were on that team who went on to do more things after that. Not just basketball. They impacted the world, and especially sports, as one of the most legendary teams of all time."

The Bulls had already completed their first three-peat by the time VanVleet was born in 1994, and he was likely too young to remember their second three-peat. However, as a native of Rockford, Illinois—a city about 80 miles west of Chicago—VanVleet grew up right in the central hub of Bulls fandom.

While overall rankings may vary, the '90s Bulls are on a list that includes the Celtics of the 1960s and '80s, the Lakers of the 1980s and the Big Three Miami Heat of the 2010s. None of those other teams has a 10-part documentary series, so it's safe to say these Bulls would probably sit atop most people's list.

Jordan is perhaps the most influential athlete in modern history, arguably the GOAT of his sport who also created a multibillion-dollar shoe brand. Perhaps more than any player, Jordan proved you can be both an individual brand and a superstar in your sport at the same time. 

With Phil Jackson going on to be the most accomplished coach in NBA history and Steve Kerr eventually shepherding a dynasty of his own in Golden State, the number of legends attached to these teams is jaw-dropping. That's all without mentioning Scottie Pippen or Dennis Rodman, two of the best and most influential players of their time.