CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 12: Former player Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls addresses the crowd as teammate Scottie Pippen listens during a 20th anniversary recognition ceremony of the Bulls 1st NBA Championship in 1991 during half-time of a game bewteen the Bulls and the Utah Jazz at the United Center on March 12, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
1 Total Update since March 12, 2011
about 2 years ago Update 0 comments
Well, that was fun.
The Bulls came out of the gates absolutely on fire Saturday night, leading by 20 points after the first quarter and 27 at the half. Never a point of strength this season, Chicago went 13 of 20 from the 3 point line in the first half and played their usual suffocating defense. At that point, the celebration was on at the United Center as Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and most of the '91 Bulls team received ovation after ovation from the sellout crowd during a fun halftime celebration of the franchise's first championship. The Bulls clicked into cruise control after that, much to the chagrin of coach Tom Thibodeau, and the Jazz made a prideful run in the 3rd quarter, but Chicago's lead was just too big and the Bulls finally pulled away again late.
Luol Deng was fantastic once again, leading the Bulls with 26 points, 6 assists and 7 rebounds. If he keeps playing this well with painful thigh bruises, I may have to start showing up at the United Center with a hammer and bad intentions. Derrick was on fire in the first quarter, hitting 5 of 6 three pointers on his way to 17 points. He ended up with 26 points and 4 assists.
Both Kyle Korver and C.J. Watson had great shooting nights, going 3-3 and 4-5 from distance, respectively. With their contributions, the Bulls set a franchise record for 3-pointers made in the first half with 13, and in a game with 18. Save for a putrid stretch of defense in the 3rd quarter when the Bulls gave up 30 points, Chicago took care of business in front of the last generation's champions.
Hard to separate the game from the halftime ceremony, which was really fun and seemed like the evening's main attraction. A bit strange having Reinsdorf's son be the one to give out commemorative plaques, and the 50% attendance rate made it feel a bit like a high school reunion, but Michael and Scottie added a touch of class once they took the mic. Jordan's speech was especially well-delivered, as he made sure to mention Johnny "Red" Kerr, and even if he was pandering to the crowd, hearing MJ say that this Bulls team is on its way to six championships of its own gave me chills.
After the ceremony, Jordan showed how much the Chicago crowd meant to him. "I wish we could turn the clock back, Jordan said. "That’s how I feel. … I miss it."
And while Chicago may never love another player the way they love Jordan, if it is going to be anybody it will be south side native Derrick Rose. With the win, Rose has helped lead the Bulls to a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference with only 17 games to play, the first time the franchise has been there since MJ and Scottie charged up and down the United Center hardwood.
about 2 years ago Update 0 comments
In a perfect twist of fate, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and other members of the 1991 NBA champions will be at the United Center Saturday night when the Bulls will try to join the Boston Celtics atop the Eastern Conference.
On either side of the halftime celebration of the 20th anniversary of the franchise's first championship, The Bulls will take on the Utah Jazz, who will look to spoil a special evening in Chicago.
The Bulls, having won five straight and their last ten at home, are a heavy favorite against the Jazz, who are still reeling from the sudden retirement of Hall of Fame coach Jerry Sloan and the trade of All-NBA guard Deron Williams. Carlos Boozer is expected to miss the rematch against his former team, having suffered a sprained ankle against the Charlotte Bobcats. Utah has injury concerns of its own, as Paul Millsap (16.9 points, 7.8 rebounds) is expected to sit out with knee tendinitis, along with forward/center Mehmet Okur and guard Ronnie Price.
Jazz To Watch For
Al Jefferson has been one of the few bright spots for the Jazz, averaging 25.9 points per game since the All-Star break, and scoring a tip-in game winner for the Jazz on Wednesday night. Andrei Kirilenko is having a bounce-back year as well, filling up the stat sheet as he has become more of a focal point of the Jazz offense. New coach Tyrone Corbin has his hands full trying to incorporate so many new pieces in a time of transition, but the Jazz are not without young talent. Jeremy Evans, Devin Harris, and Derrick Favors all look to have a bright future in Utah.
Bulls To Watch For
Derrick Rose's ability to shine when the lights are brightest is truly remarkable. With a shot at first place in the East, MJ in the house and Utah without Deron Williams, an MVP performance seems imminent. Luol Deng, despite a deep thigh bruise, is expected to play once again, having gutted through the injury for a near-triple double on Friday night.
As the Bulls rank 2nd in the league in rebounding and the Jazz, 27th and without one of its leading rebounders in Millsap, Chicago will likely have its way inside. Look for coach Tom Thibodeau to establish an inside-out gameplan, allowing open lanes for Rose in the second half.
With so much celebration in store, the Bulls will need to keep their focus so the United Center, home of the league's best attendance record, can rock early and often. The game, and hopefully a celebratory atmostphere, begins at 7 p.m. CST on WGN. Let's get it on.
Follow Zachary Lee on Twitter @rightfieldsucks