The Chicago Bulls Basketball Team – the Amazing History & 4 Gameday Tips

Chicago Bulls Basketball - UC Bulls

Updated On: November 08, 2023 by   Courtney AugelloCourtney Augello

Chicago Bulls basketball - UC
The Bulls play at the United Center in Chicago.

The Chicago Bulls have a long history in Chicago. With superstars that propelled the team to great success, the Bulls have become a household name worldwide.

If you want to learn more about the team or are a new fan preparing for your first game at the United Center, it is important to know about the team’s legacy and what to expect at the Madhouse on Madison.

History of the Chicago Bulls Basketball Team

Early Days

The Chicago Bulls basketball team was founded in 1966. Although the Bulls had a great record in their debut year, fan engagement was low for the first 5 seasons of the franchise. It wasn’t until 1971 that the franchise started focusing on fan retention.

The first step to growing their fan base was introducing an energetic mascot, Benny the Bull. In addition to their new mascot, the team began performing better, which led to audiences of more than 10,000 fans for the first time. Throughout the early and mid-70s, the bulls made it to four playoffs but could not claim the title.

In the late 70s, the Chicago Bulls basketball team was sold to the Wirtz family, who also owned the Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately for the franchise, the new owner put very little effort into the team, and they began to struggle.

Chicago Bulls Basketball - jordan art
Michael Jordan led the Bulls to multiple championships.

Michael Jordan Era

In the 1984 NBA draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan 3rd overall. In his rookie season, Jordan came third in the league for scoring. He helped the team make the playoffs that year, but they could not beat the Milwaukee Bucks.

The following season, the Bulls made the playoffs again, even though Michael Jordan had been injured during the regular season. He was able to play in the postseason, but the Bulls were swept and did not make it past the semifinals.

The Bulls remained a playoff team for the next five years but never won it all. Their first NBA championship wouldn’t come until the 1990-91 season. During this season, the Chicago Bulls basketball team won 61 games during the regular season and beat the LA Lakers in 5 games to take home the trophy. 

During the 1991-92 season, the Bulls won their second consecutive championship title after defeating the Portland Trail Blazers in game 6. The Bulls would go on to win the following season as well, taking down the Phoenix Suns in 6 games.

Michael Jordan announced his retirement from the NBA at the end of the 1993-94 season. Without their star player, the Chicago Bulls would be knocked out during the season’s second round of playoffs. 

Chicago Bulls Basketball - Trophies
The Bulls’ 6 trophies can be seen inside the United Center.

Luckily, in March 1995, Michael Jordan announced that he was coming out of retirement and would be a Chicago Bulls basketball player once again. That season, the team made it to the postseason but was beaten by the Orlando Magic.

The following season, the Bulls were back on top. They became the first NBA team to win 70 games in a season, and Michael Jordan led the league in scoring. The Bulls went on to beat Seattle SuperSonics that year for their fourth championship title. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls is considered one of the greatest basketball teams in the history of the NBA.

The Bulls won another title in the 1996-97 season after they beat the Utah Jazz in 4 out of 6 games. After this win, many believed Jordan would once again enter retirement. However, he had one last win in him.

During the 1997-98 NBA season, the Chicago Bulls basketball team went 62-20 during the regular season and was the #1 seed in their conference. In game 6 of the finals, the Bulls were down with only seconds remaining. With barely 5 seconds left in the game, the Chicago bulls scored to win the game and nab their 6th trophy.

Michael Jordan would then retire for good in January 1999.

After the Chicago Bulls Basketball Dynasty – Present

After Jordan’s retirement, the team struggled for nearly 10 years. It wasn’t until 6 years later that the Chicago Bulls would even make it to the playoffs. The team would go on to make the playoffs in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons but be knocked out before the finals.

During the 2010s, the Chicago Bulls basketball team continued to make the playoffs but could not secure a championship. From 2017 onward, the Bulls were rebuilding to improve their chances of securing another trophy for the franchise. This rebuild finished in 2020, and the team is currently set to start trying for another win.

Chicago Bulls Basketball - UC Bulls
The Bulls are currently aiming for another championship win.

4 Tips to Improve Your Gameday Experience

The Chicago Bulls basketball team plays at the United Center, one of the most energetic arenas in all of sports. The arena has been nicknamed the “Madhouse on Madison” by fans, and if you want to get the most out of your visit, these tips and tricks will help enhance the experience.

1: Arrive early

Getting to the Madhouse early is the best way to start your game day experience. If you arrive 30 minutes before the doors open, you may have to wait in line outside, but the arena will be less crowded as you find your way around, locate your seats, and buy merchandise or food.

In addition to making the walk around the arena less packed, arriving early is also great if you want to see the Chicago Bulls basketball players do their warmups. The team will be on the court practising their drills, shooting baskets, and stretching before the game. If you are seated in the 100s section, you can even make your way to the team tunnel for autographs during this time.

Another benefit of getting to the United Center early is being able to get any giveaways that are being held. Throughout the season, the Bulls will have freebies for the first 10 or 20 thousand fans that enter the doors. These items are usually hats, t-shirts, or bobbleheads. If you want a chance to get a giveaway item, you have to arrive early.

2: Check out the Memorabilia Around the Madhouse

Because of the Chicago Bulls’ long history, there are pieces of memorabilia around the arena. If you have time before tipoff or during an intermission, try to walk around and find them.

Chicago bulls basketball - Michael Jordan statue
The statue outside the United Center commemorates Jordan’s legacy.

Before you enter the arena, there is a statue of Michael Jordan slam-dunking the ball above his opponent. The statue is called The Spirit and has been welcoming fans since 2017. At the base of the statue, there is an inscription which lists Jordan’s numerous achievements with the team.

Inside the United Center, each of the team’s 6 NBA trophies is on display. Located around section 117, they are in a trophy case for fans to take photos with.  

3: Keep an Eye out for Benny

Benny the Bull is one of the most popular mascots in the NBA. He has been riling Bulls’ crowds since 1969 and is one of the oldest sports mascots.

Benny can be seen throughout the arena performing tricks and pranking fans. One of his favourite things to do is spill a giant bag of popcorn into the crowd. He is also known for his dancing, acrobatics skill, and rappelling from the ceiling above the court.

If you’re watching a Chicago Bulls basketball game in the Madhouse, make sure to keep an eye out for Benny and his hyper antics. He truly adds a fun dynamic to the atmosphere.

4: Embrace the Madness

The United Center hasn’t been nicknamed the Madhouse on Madison for no reason. Fans created the name to embrace the energy and craziness that goes on within the arena.

The Chicago Bulls host numerous themed nights during each season. These themes can be based on films, holidays, or even raising awareness. Some examples include Black Panther night, St. Patrick’s Day green-out, or even Benny the Bull’s Birthday party. During these themed games, fans dress up for the occasion and go all out.

Chicago Bulls basketball - Benny
Benny can be found in the stands throughout Bulls games.

During the halftime intermission at a Chicago Bulls basketball game, the Luvabulls perform. They are a cheerleading and dance squad that performs on the court during breaks. The Bulls are the only Chicago team with dancers, and fans love watching their routines.

Also during the intermission, Bulls’ staff run onto the court with t-shirt cannons. They shoot the merchandise into the crowd, where the fans cheer the loudest. After the cannons are empty, t-shirts fall from the rafters on parachutes into the crowd.

These routines and more help make Chicago Bulls basketball games even more exciting for fans.

Seeing a Chicago Bulls Basketball Game is a Great Experience

For old and new fans alike, the Chicago Bulls are a great team to support. Their iconic history and energetic fanbase make going to their games amazing to attend. 

Even though the team is just out of a rebuilding period, Bulls fans are dedicated to supporting the players and the franchise has returned the energy by providing a crazy, energetic experience.

If you’re looking for other exciting things to do in Chicago, check out our list of must-dos in the Windy City.

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