The other day a video of Thaddeus Young pumping the kids went viral in his basketball camp, The former Chicago Bulls endured a constant grind throughout his 16-year-long career—one that now includes stops in seven different NBA cities.
While writing a post about the same video, I began to reflect on his brief Bulls tenure. The man played some pretty solid basketball for this franchise, most notably during his second and final season with the team when he coined the nickname “Thadjik Johnson”.
Unfortunately, though, that extremely solid basketball may not be remembered for long. Not only was he nothing more than a role player on a bad Bulls team, but he wasn’t in town long enough to make a lasting impression.
We can say that about a lot of NBA players, though, especially for Chicago since the end of the Jordan era. And, with that in mind, I thought I’d put my teams together to remember the random Bulls who made an impression in one way or another.
Let’s go ahead and call this exercise the “All-Forgotten Teams” of the 21st century. We’ll split things up into first team, second team, practice team and staff. The only real criterion here is that the player must have been in Chicago for less than two seasons. Beyond that, I’m basing their placement on the impression they make on me – whether on the floor or outside – to decide which category they fall into. I also tried to keep things as close to an actual lineup as I could. In other words, we’re not just throwing four defenders to the floor at once.
Okay, I’ll explain my reasoning more when we get to each team below. Lets do it.
I’m not trying to blow my own horn, but I think it’s a great first team.
Nate “The Bull’s Great” Robinson was arguably the easiest addition to this lineup. Their 2012–13 season in Chicago was one of the most memorable campaigns the city has ever seen. He appeared in all 82 games of the regular season before helping lead the team to the second round of the playoffs against the Miami Heat. Robinson’s 34-point performance in Game 4’s four-ot match against the Nets (which included 23 points in the fourth quarter alone) is also one of the better Bulls games of the past 20 years.
A case could be made that Korver and Brewer should be featured further down, but the success the organization has experienced with both on the roster deserves more recognition. Korver’s 3-point excellence hit a new level in his two seasons in Chicago, as he fired an absurd 42.5 percent of his shots from the city. The league had not yet fully embraced the 3-point era we know it today, so having someone like him at the time felt like a fairly significant advantage.
Brewer also played for the Bulls squad that went to the Eastern Conference Finals, and his dirty work mentality was hardly appreciated at the time. He was one of those rare players to hit the game at full box score, and his defensive intensity was an absolute privilege to come off the bench. Brewer was the ideal fit as far as hard-nosed defenders and utility players were concerned.
Elton Brand played for two incredibly formidable Bulls teams. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t play some incredibly good basketball! averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds in his first two seasons with the team, Brand was easily the best player in Chicago for two-straight years. It’s easy to forget that he’s also one of the franchise’s few No. 1 Overall Picks and Rookie of the Year award winners. He decently fooled the Bulls by making two All-Star games in a 17-year-long career.
Pau Gasol’s career was one of the shortest in the history of the franchise. While signing the 34-year-old older man may not have felt like the sexiest choice at the time, Gasol kept his side of the deal in the red during his two seasons. He made two-straight All-Star appearances after a three-year drought, and his 18.5 points with 11.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game in the 2014–15 season helped Chicago win 50 games and reach the second round of the playoffs. .
Gasol is one of just 13 Bulls players to record a triple-double, and has the 7th most total rebounds and 10th most total blocks in a season in franchise history.
While the first team is about recognizing effective short-term role players, the second team is mainly about pinpointing some of the weirdest odds out there.
As the guy best known for his days in Michigan and with the Pacers, I always forget Jalen Rose wearing a Bulls uniform. He’s another player who hasn’t achieved much with the organization, but he averaged 21.4 points with 4.8 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game. Not to mention, Rose shot 37.6 percent from downtown on 4.0 attempts a night, which I think we can all agree is pretty impressive in the early 2000s.
Note: Technically, Rose appeared for Chicago in three seasons, but I decided to include him because he was only on the team for one full campaign.
I’m sure when kids look at Dwayne Wade’s basketball-reference page at 15, they’ll assume “CHI” is a computer glitch. He can tell his hometown connection everything he wants, but the only reason Wade comes to Chicago is because of the bag a desperate front office decides to give him. This is one of the strangest moves the franchise has ever seen. I’ll leave it at that.
The Chicago Bulls used John Salmons as a sparkler. The team acquired him in February of 2009 and immediately lit the fuse. The Salmons averaged 18.3 points, shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from downtown in 26 regular season games. Then, he averaged an absurd 44.7 minutes per game during the Bulls’ iconic seven-game first-round playoff series against the Boston Celtics. Despite that strong start in his new home, the Bulls let him trade with the Milwaukee Bucks the following season.
Thaddeus Young is the most common name on this list. He felt like a good free-agent signing at the time, and he proved to be quite right once the Bulls decided to hire a capable head coach. The only reason Young did not make it to the first team was because the role and pedigree of Elton Brand were more remarkable.
As far as Ben Wallace is concerned, I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that he played for the Chicago Bulls. Even more dumbfounded, the Bulls offered the old man a four-year, $60 million contract before being traded a season later. To his credit, however, he helped lead the Bulls to the second round of the playoffs during his one full season with the team, which Chicago could not do again until Derrick Rose came to town.
Metta World Peace (Ron Artest)
I don’t have much to say here. Rondo, Mercer and Gooden are all players who played better basketball than expected during their short stints with the team. Meta World Peace, on the other hand, is just the one I always forget when he started his career in Chicago.
Head Coach: Brian Scalabrine
The White Mamba was the goat’s benchwarmer and we should keep it that way.
General Manager: Scotty Pippen
You said 21st century!
In fact, it should not be forgotten that Pippen rejoined the Bulls in the 2003–04 season. And I think it’s fair to say that the legend occupies a high ranking position in this fantasy world, so the GM is it!
Head Athletic Trainer: James Johnson
James Johnson—a blackbelt in karate who played his entire rookie season in Chicago—feels like the perfect coach for these teams.
Shooting Coach: Marco Bellinelli
Let’s just forget the fact that Bellinelli’s second least efficient shooting season came in Chicago.
Team Safety: Charles Oakley
If you know, you know.
Benny’s assistant: John Lucas III
He needs someone to drown him!
Water Boy: Zimmer Fredet
He was keeping Carlos Boozer company during the timeout before he dropped 73 points for the Shanghai Sharks.