Players from the 1990-91 championship team pose for a group photo during a halftime ceremony at the Bulls-Jazz game on March 12th. For more photos, launch the photo gallery »
I knew things were going to get loud at the Bulls reunion last night at the United Center. You don’t put Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and several other players from franchise’s first championship team together, whip the crowd into a frenzy with a stirring highlight video, and trot out the gleaming trophy through a gauntlet of pompom–shaking Luvabulls without bracing for an ear assault.
And, indeed, with each name announced—Stacey King, John Paxson, Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen—the decibel level grew until it felt like an O’Hare jetway. But when play-by-play man Jim Durham finally announced the star of the show’s name—last of course—the … din, the bedlam, was … I don’t know how to describe it. Really, really, loud. You had to be there. Even Michael Jordan, who by now certainly was used to rock-star receptions, seemed taken aback. He bent his head, looked up as if he was about to speak, and bent his head again, shook it, and smiled. His eyes glistened. He said a few words—gave a classy shout-out to Johnny “Red” Kerr, the longtime color commentator for the Bulls who died in 2009.
Jordan also spoke of the current Bulls, saying that he wouldn’t be surprised if they added another six titles to the half dozen his own Bulls brought to Chicago—a prediction that didn’t seem half-crazy after the near-perfect first half of basketball Derrick Rose and company had just played against the overmatched Utah Jazz. (Three-pointers rained in buckets, and the defense swarmed like the “Dobermans” of old—the nickname given to Jordan and Pippen in the early ’90s days of the team’s then-defensive guru Johnny Bach.)
Phil Jackson couldn’t be there—his Lakers were playing—but he appeared in a video, and the crowd roared. And Pippen, whose playing days in Chicago weren’t always happy, thanked the organization “for bringing back a memory we wanted to live one more time.”
The whole ceremony took but a few minutes. When it was over, the players who were there—Jordan, Pippen, Grant, King, Paxson, Will Perdue, Craig Hodges, Scott Williams, Cliff Levingston, and Dennis Hopson—took a group photo together and gathered under the stands to answer some questions from reporters.
On the court, the second half was underway. The new Bulls didn’t play as well as they did in the first half. Maybe there was a bit of a letdown. But as the team handily beat the Jazz 118-100, the roars returned. Not quite as loud as they were for the old champs—at least not yet.