Published April 20, 2022
The Chicago Bulls’ Top Ten Greatest Players
Some things to consider:
– These rankings are based on greatness to the franchise, not the greatness of their career. For example, Hakeem Olajuwon is the greatest to ever play in a Raptors jersey, but his lack of importance to Toronto would leave him off of this kind of list.
– The main criteria considered include: accomplishments with the franchise, notable franchise records (within top ten range), and talent.
luol deng, jimmy butler, chet walker
10. Joakim Noah
1x All-NBA 1st Team
1x Defensive Player of the Year
2x All-Defensive 1st Team, 1x All-Defensive 2nd Team
9th in minutes played
4th in rebounds
9th in steals
3rd in blocks
Drafted by Chicago as a top ten pick in 2007, Joakim Noah grew into one of Chicago’s most vital players of the past fifteen years. He was never a significant offensive force, but his defense truly made him stand out as one of the few All-Star caliber Bulls of the 21st century.
In the years following Derrick Rose’s MVP season, the superstar’s injuries forced Noah to take a bigger step forward. He helped keep Chicago a playoff-level team, eventually receiving multiple defensive honors for his hard work.
9. Dennis Rodman
1x All-Defensive 1st Team
Notable Records: N/A
Dennis Rodman is a bit difficult to rank on this type of list.
On one hand, he was a skill-limited, but crucial member of a late-90’s Bulls dynasty that won three championships in a row. On the other hand, his time with Chicago extends no further than that.
It’s fair to say Rodman is definitely a top ten Bull, if not off of his reputation alone. He was still part of a dominant “big three” that led the greatest team in NBA history, so those remarkable rebounding numbers are far more important than the stat sheet suggests. He brought heart and personality to Chicago, and the fanbase will never forget that.
8. Norm Van Lier
1x All-NBA 2nd Team
3x All-Defensive 1st Team, 4x All-Defensive 2nd Team
7th in minutes played
4th in assists
4th in steals
One of the 70’s best defensive guards was Norm Van Lier. A key member of a stacked Bulls team that often found itself atop the Western Conference, Van Lier’s pure versatility was his best trait.
A solid modern comparison would be Jason Kidd; not much of a scorer, but consistently among the best playmakers and small defenders. His selflessness net him a good place as the third option, stabilizing the Bulls’ offense and giving the Windy City its first dominant team historically.
7. Artis Gilmore
1x All-Defensive 2nd Team
10th in minutes played
7th in field goals made
7th in points
6th in rebounds
1st in blocks
Artis Gilmore is undoubtedly one of the most underrated basketball players of all-time. When you combine his resume between the ABA and NBA, the result is that of an elite big man that doesn’t get his flowers nearly enough.
Chicago was his initial exposure to the NBA, and he continued to boast high-tier play throughout his tenure. A nightly twenty points, twelve rebounds, and two blocks per game for six years is no joke, and that also includes some impressive efficiency and durability.
Gilmore is a top four Bulls talent at the very worst, but what keeps him so low on this list is the lack of accomplishment when there. The team only found itself with a winning record for a couple years of his run, and they never extended past the post-season’s second round.
6. Jerry Sloan
3rd in minutes played
4th in field goals made
5th in points
5th in rebounds
Jerry Sloan was Chicago’s very first star player and is remembered fondly by Bulls fans everywhere. His nickname “The Original Bull” says enough; holding so many long-standing franchise records says even more.
Despite being a shooting guard, he was consistently one of his team’s best rebounders in an era where centers brought them down with ease. This and his court awareness brought a much-appreciated impact on the defensive end of the ball, which gave the main scorers an opportunity to do what they excel in. Without Sloan, Chicago’s first division title may have come a lot later, and for that the organization is grateful.
5. Horace Grant
8th in minutes played
7th in rebounds
6th in steals
6th in blocks
It’s easy to remember Rodman as the signature Bulls “big man”, but don’t forget a different guy was the anchor of the original three-peat.
Horace Grant is one of many members that helped turn Chicago into a dynasty team initially, brought in to strengthen the team’s forward depth during the late-80’s. He quickly became a starting player, operating as a third scoring option that could rebound at a high level and defend effectively.
It could be argued he wasn’t as remarkable individually as some others on this list, but has the longevity and importance to the franchise to justify a spot this high.
4. Bob Love
2x All-NBA 2nd Team
3x All-Defensive 2nd Team
6th in minutes played
3rd in field goals made
3rd in points
10th in rebounds
Back in the 70’s, the Bulls found themselves on a roll with back-to-back conference finals appearances. The mastermind behind these deep playoff runs was Bob Love, one of the best forwards of his time.
Love could guarantee you well over twenty points a night, all the while rebounding at a high level and rarely missing games. As part of a squad with aforementioned great players Jerry Sloan, Norm Van Lier, and Chet Walker, he was the undeniable face of the team and the leader of Chicago’s most dominant seasons outside of the Jordan era.
3. Derrick Rose
1x All-NBA 1st Team
2009 Rookie of the Year
8th in field goals made
10th in points
5th in assists
Modern fan-favorite Derrick Rose has earned a spot in Chicago Bulls history. One of the league’s biggest what-ifs never got to truly see his prime, but still delivered the third greatest resume the franchise has ever seen.
An MVP speaks enough volumes, but you truly had to see Rose play to understand his excellence; a fantastic offensive player with athleticism not rivaled by many, leading Chicago to two of its top five winningest seasons. It’s unfortunate his body couldn’t handle the pressure, as he had a definite chance at becoming an all-time great.
2. Scottie Pippen
3x All-NBA 1st Team, 2x All-NBA 2nd Team, 2x All-NBA 3rd Team
7x All-Defensive 1st Team, 1x All-Defensive 2nd Team
2nd in minutes
2nd in field goals made
2nd in points
3rd in rebounds
2nd in assists
2nd in steals
4th in blocks
Scottie Pippen was more than a second option. He was one of the best wing defenders in the NBA, adaptable in every sense of the word, and the key to unlocking the infamous Bulls dynasty.
Few in the league could score, pass, and defend all at once like he did, and he remained the only constant throughout the entire decade. Even in the years Jordan was absent, he kept Chicago in the race for the best Eastern Conference team. Not quite a championship team leader, but absolutely a legend that brought his all in any situation.
1. Michael Jordan
6x Finals MVP
10x All-NBA 1st Team, 1x All-NBA 2nd Team
3x All-Star Game MVP
1x Defensive Player of the Year
9x All-Defensive 1st Team
1985 Rookie of the Year
1st in minutes
1st in field goals made
5th in three-point field goals made
1st in points
1st in rebounds
1st in assists
1st in steals
2nd in blocks
It’s only natural that the greatest to ever do it is the number one choice for his signature franchise’s G.O.A.T.
Michael Jordan was a spectacle. Bulls fans can always brag about them following a top five NBA franchise of all-time, and this man is why. He didn’t do it alone, but he was the deciding factor between a great team and an unstoppable one.
He was the best player in the league for nearly his entire career, and couldn’t be stopped on either side of the ball. Six Finals MVPs, five regular-season MVPs; those are Jordan’s to boast.
The Bulls’ greatest player of all-time.