The Chicago Bulls are an American professional basketball team based in Chicago, Illinois, playing in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team was founded in 1966. They play their home games at the United Center. The team is well known for having one of the greatest dynasties in NBA history during the 1990s, winning six championships in 8 years with two three-peats. All six of those championship teams were led by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and coach Phil Jackson. The first three championship teams included the likes of Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant, John Paxson and B.J. Armstrong, while the latter three championship teams had Luc Longley, Steve Kerr, Ron Harper, Toni Kukoc and Dennis Rodman on the roster. The Bulls won an NBA record 72 games during the 1995–96 NBA season and are the only team in NBA history to win at least 70 games in a single season. During the 1990s, the Bulls helped spread the popularity of the NBA around the world. The 1998 NBA Finals, the Bulls' most recent championship appearance, was the most watched championship series in NBA history.
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On February 19, 2009, the NBA trade deadline, the Bulls traded Larry Hughes to the New York Knicks for Tim Thomas, Jerome James, and Anthony Roberson. Later that day the Bulls made the third trade in a span of less than 24 hours by sending swingman Thabo Sefolosha to the Oklahoma City Thunder for a 2009 first-round pick. The trades brought a late-season push for the Bulls, which finally clinched a playoff berth on April 10, 2009, their fourth in the last five years. They finished the season with a 41–41 record. Their record was good enough to secure a No. 7 seed In the 2009 NBA Playoffs, playing a tough series against the Boston Celtics. In Game 1, Derrick Rose scored 36 points, along with 11 assists, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record for most points scored by a rookie in a playoff debut. After breaking the record for most overtimes played in a NBA Playoffs Series, the Boston Celtics managed to overcome the Bulls after 7 Games and 7 Overtimes played.
The Bulls then had two 1st round picks in the 2009 NBA Draft and decided to take Wake Forest stand out forward James Johnson and athletic USC forward Taj Gibson.
In the 2009 NBA off-season, the Bulls lost their leading scorer Ben Gordon, who signed with their divisional rival, the Detroit Pistons.
The Bulls’ primary rivals have been the Detroit Pistons ever since the Jordan-led Bulls met the “Bad Boy” Pistons in the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals. The two teams met in the playoffs four consecutive years, with the Pistons winning each time until 1991, when the Bulls defeated the Pistons in four games in the Eastern Conference Finals, en route to their first NBA championship. The rivalry was renewed in the 2007 Eastern Conference Semifinals, in which former Detroit cornerstone Ben Wallace met his former team (the Pistons won in 6 games). The geographic proximity and membership in the Central Division further intensify the rivalry, which has been characterized by intense, physical play ever since the teams met in the late 1980s. Chicago fans have been known to have a disliking for Detroit professional teams, as it is the only city that is in the same division as Chicago in all four major North American sports. “Detroit Sucks” is commonly chanted when playing any Detroit team.
The Bulls also had an intense rivalry with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Unlike the rivalry with the Pistons, in which the two teams have been relatively competitive, the Bulls-Cavs rivalry has been one of the more one-sided rivalries, heavily favoring the Bulls. Twice, Michael Jordan hit game- and series- winning shots against the Cavaliers in the playoffs.
Though not always mutually recognized, the Bulls also have a substantial rivalry with the Portland Trail Blazers which began to unfold after the 1984 NBA Draft. Portland had the 2nd first round pick and acquired center Sam Bowie while the Bulls drafted Michael Jordan with their 3rd pick. Due to Bowie’s less than expected performance and a career ending injury, many have cited that the Blazer’s draft pick was the worst in NBA history because of the legendary status Jordan holds. Fans of both teams have drawn similarities between the draft pick and that of baseball’s Curse of the Bambino. The theory gained further momentum after the Bulls defeated the Blazers in the 1992 NBA Finals.
Another franchise that the Bulls have competed fiercely with is the New York Knicks. The two met in the playoffs in four consecutive years (1991–94) and again in 1996, with the teams’ series twice (1992 and 1994) going the full seven games.