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Paul Sullivan: 'Zo Time' has arrived. Could Chicago become a Bulls town again thanks to an exciting, revamped roster with Lonzo Ball pulling the strings?

Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Basketball

A wave of nostalgia cascaded over me Friday night at the United Center while watching the Chicago Bulls pound the New Orleans Pelican s in their home opener.

It was 30 years ago this week that the Bulls were playing an exhibition game in the New Orleans Superdome, where 31,278 fans watched Michael Jordan and the defending NBA champions take on the Denver Nuggets.

The Bulls were coming off their first title, and the pregame topic of conversation in the locker room was whether Chicago was evolving from a Bears town into a Bulls town five years after the Bears’ Super Bowl XX win.

“I think that slowly, gradually, it’s becoming a Bulls town,” forward Horace Grant told a small group of reporters. “With Michael Jordan, and after winning a championship for the first time in 25 years, I think we’re creeping up on the Bears.”

Jordan was a bit more diplomatic in his response, noting that Chicago was a town that loved winners more than anything.

“Chicago is just a sports town,” Jordan said. “It’s a Bulls, Bears, Hawks and Sox town too. Everyone is winning in Chicago now, and it’s very exciting for the fans.”

 

Jordan paused for a second and smiled.

“Oh, and the Cubs too,” he added. “Can’t forget them.”

The Bulls would go on to become one of our only two sports dynasties — the Chicago Blackhawks won three titles from 2010 to 2015 — winning six titles in eight years before being dismantled by management before a chance at No. 7, as Jordan explained at the end of “The Last Dance.” Team Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf had a differing view, of course, but that’s all water under the bridge, at least until the next Bulls documentary.

What we do know is the Bulls have not played in the NBA Finals since Jordan’s second and final exit in 1998 and have finished with a winning record only eight times in 23 seasons entering this season. No longer are there arguments about which team owns Chicago. Even when the Bears are mediocre, they’re still the undisputed kings.

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