This series of articles will celebrate (or laugh at) some of the worst professional sports teams of all time. I will focus on teams within my lifetime so expect the worst from the 1970s to present day.
It all went downhill for the Chicago Bulls on June 14, 1998. Yes, the day Michael Jordan hit the game winning shot in Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, clinching the Bulls sixth title in eight years. After that, the big crash!
Jordan, the greatest player of all time, retired. The Bulls second best player, Scottie Pippen left for Portland. Dennis Rodman took his freak show to Hollywood, as he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers. Steve Kerr took his clutch shooting to San Antonio. Coach Phil Jackson had enough, and left the game for a few years. The Bulls went from dynasty to laughingstock overnight.
The first mistake the Bulls made in the post-Jordan era, was hiring Tim Floyd to be their next head coach. They would have been better off with any member of Pink Floyd to be their next head coach. Tim Floyd was a successful college coach, having led Iowa State to the sweet sixteen in 1997. However, he was in way over his head in the NBA. Floyd only won 13 games in the lockout shortened 1998-99 season. He then followed that with a 17 win season in 1999-00 season. Then came 2000-01.
The Bulls went 15-67 in 2000-01, the worst record in franchise history. The biggest problem for the Bulls was they couldn’t score. Chicago averaged a mere 87.6 points per game, the lowest in the NBA in 2000-01. Second year forward Elton Brand did his part, averaging 20 points per game to lead the team. The problem was Brand got little to no support. Ron Mercer tried his best. The Kentucky product averaged 19 points per game, but never lived up to the hype that surrounded him, when Kentucky recruited him away from many suitors in the mid 1990s.
What also hurt the Bulls was problem child Ron Artest. The St. John’s product, and wannabe rap star, was a cancer in the locker room and a horrible influence on the Baby Bulls. Artest’s frequent blowups with Floyd, the media and the world in general, led to frustration, discontentment and poor play on the court.
The Bulls took a chance in drafting point guard, Khalid El-Amin in the second round. El-Amin was the MVP of the Final Four in 1999, when UConn won their first national championship. The issue with El-Amin was his size. Standing only 5’10 but weighing over 200 pounds, El-Amin was considered too short and too heavy to play point guard in the NBA. El-Amin averaged 6.3 points, and 2.9 assists per game in his only season in the NBA. He looked small and out of shape against the big boys in the NBA, and the Bulls released him at the end of the season.
Since Floyd had total control of the Bulls operations, he decided to take an Iowa State grad, Marcus Fizer in the first round. The 6’9 power forward was expected to form a solid 1-2 punch with Brand in the post. However, Fizer struggled to find his game in the pros, averaging 9.5 points per game, but only taking down 3.8 rebounds per game. Not good enough to be a power forward in the NBA. Fizer never lived up to his potential, and was out of the league by 2006.
When MJ and company were ruling the basketball world, the Bulls would routinely blow out opponents by wide margins. In 2000-01 the reverse was true. The Bulls were getting hammered on many nights, and I’m not talking about the nightlife on Rush Street. The worst loss of the season was on November 18 in Utah. The Jazz were still smarting over their two losses to the Bulls in back to back NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. So no team took greater pleasure in destroying the Bulls than the Utah Jazz. The duo of John Stockton and Karl Malone led the Jazz to a 109-64 rout of the Bulls, a lopsided 45 point victory for Utah. The Bulls had no chance as the Jazz and their fans at the Delta Centre relished this resounding victory.
Things wouldn’t get any easier for the Bulls next season. After another poor start, the Bulls fired Floyd from his head coaching duties. The Bulls did manage to win 21 games the next season, but were still a far cry from their glory years. Today, the Bulls are contending for an NBA title. Led by point guard Derrick Rose, the Bulls are in the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference yet again. However, the Bulls haven’t won the NBA Championship since Michael Jordan was king of the basketball court. But they are in much better shape, than they were in 2000-01.
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