Through forty-nine seasons, the Chicago Bulls have sent at least one player to the NBA All-Star game thirty-four times, so with the 2015 All-Star game upon us, “This Week in Bull History” will spend the next couple of installments looking at memorable moments from the Bulls’ long history at the NBA All-Star game.
1967 – The expansion Bulls sent their backcourt duo of Jerry Sloan and Guy Rodgers to the 1967 All-Star game at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. For Guy Rodgers, it was his fourth selection in five years, and it was the first of two appearances for Jerry Sloan (1969 was his only other selection). Sloan finished the game with 8 points and Rodgers ended with 1 point but dished out 8 assists in the 135-120 Western Conference victory.
1973 – Two Bulls, Chet Walker and Bob Love, joined the NBA’s All-Stars for the first game held in Chicago. The 17,527 fans paid a top price of $15 to see an underwhelming 104-84 Eastern Conference victory. The weekend did not feature a slam dunk contest or a three-point shootout, and this game certainly did not go down in history as the most exciting All-Star exhibition, but basketball fans in Chicago relished in seeing the event held in their city. Writing fifteen years later in the Chicago Tribune, Bob Logan (who also covered the game) remembered that it was a “rare glimpse of the mountaintop” for the young franchise and city that, in professional basketball, was just beginning to taste success after so many years of failure.
1985 – It was Michael Jordan’s rookie season and his first All-Star game appearance. Jordan finished with a modest 7 points on 2/9 shooting, but controversy erupted later as some in the media began to speculate that Jordan was “frozen” out of the offense during the game. The alleged conspiracy, led by Isaiah Thomas, occurred because some of the veteran players felt Jordan’s behavior throughout All-Star weekend was too cocky.
“The attitude of the players was that Michael Jordan will get star treatment when he learns to act like a gentleman.” – A writer from Detroit quoted in the Chicago Tribune
So was the “freeze-out” fact or fiction? Today, it has largely been discredited and Isaiah Thomas denied it at the time (and again in 2001). Likewise, Jordan, at least publicly, did not seem to think he had been unfairly excluded from the offense during the game and even blamed his own timidness on him not receiving the ball or scoring at times. However, Jordan did appear surprised upon hearing that players found his actions arrogant or cocky.
1985 NBA All-Star game Part I
1988 – The All-Star game was back in Chicago and Michael Jordan, angry at the team’s effort and not content with losing on his home court, led the East to a 138-133 win with 40 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks. Brad Daughtery called the game Jordan’s “coming out party,” and Doc Rivers remembered that it was a night in which Jordan “showed with the best in the world that he was head and shoulders above everyone.”
1994 – The Bulls, in their first season after Michael Jordan’s sudden retirement, sent three players to the All-Star game for the first time since 1973. Of these three players, Scottie Pippen was the one who stood out, and not because of his bright red shoes, with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and the game’s MVP trophy. The game was B.J. Armstrong’s and Horace Grant’s first All-Star appearance, something Pippen referred to as “past due justice” for all three of them as they tried to prove themselves without Jordan.
1997 – Michael Jordan posted the first triple-double in NBA All-Star game history with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. It was a weekend in which the NBA honored its 50 greatest players amid speculation that this would be the last All-Star appearance for the greatest among them.
“I think the way I accepted this and had a great time is the way that I want to leave the situation, leave it smiling and saying I had a great time competing against some of the young talent, some of the best in the world.” – Jordan hinting that this could be his last All-Star game.