For locals and worldwide fans alike, watching the Chicago Bears take on the Green Bay Packers is a can’t-miss television for two weeks every year. As I sat awaiting another chapter in the NFL’s most historic rivalry, I couldn’t help but reflect on the current lack of any obvious ongoing rivalries for the Chicago Bulls.
In the 80s and 90s, Michael Jordan’s Bulls engaged in several heated rivalries including John Stockton and Karl Malone’s Jazz, Patrick Ewing’s Knicks, Reggie Miller’s Pacers, and of course the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons. The Derrick Rose-led Bulls also had their fair share of enemies, particularly LeBron James in each of his stints with both Cleveland and Miami.
However, none of these have stood the test of time the way the feud between the Bears and Packers has. Proximity certainly has something to do with his, coupled with the fact that divisions mean more in the NFL than they do in the NBA.
Still, doesn’t it feel wrong not having a ‘true’ rivalry? I took to Twitter to gauge the fanbase’s feelings on who might be the Bulls’ biggest adversary in 2022-23.
A recent fan poll suggests that the Milwaukee Bucks are the biggest rival of the Chicago Bulls leading into the 2022-23 season.
It should probably come as no surprise to see the Bucks easily claim the top spot, after not only eliminating the Chicago Bulls in round one of the NBA Playoffs but also engaging in a dramatic clash following Alex Caruso’s injury caused by Grayson Allen’s unnecessary recklessness. They lay claim to over 50% of the vote, with only Cleveland coming within 20% of the Bucks top placement.
For those reasons, it’s easy to see why Milwaukee would have earned the disdain of Bulls fans online. However, for a rivalry to truly exist, the feeling must be emotional. To see if they feel just as strongly about the Bulls, I took a trip over to their subreddit, an online forum for Bucks fans.
I found a thread entitled, “Which team is the Bucks’ biggest rival?”, posted by a fan who must have been pondering the same as I. The most highly upvoted comment acknowledges the fact that the Bulls and Bucks should have a long-standing rivalry, but we’ve never fulfilled the correct conditions to see it truly blossom.
"“It probably should be the Bulls, given the distance, division, crossover from other sports fanbases, etc. But it feels like the teams were never great at the same time. None of the Bulls fans I know hate the Bucks and vice versa.”"
Other popular answers in the thread include the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, and Toronto Raptors. What I can conclude from this is that the teams which have posed the biggest threat to Milwaukee during Giannis Antetokounmpo’s reign in Milwaukee are the ones who have gained the ire of Bucks fans. If the Bulls can prove they are a genuine threat, then there’s no doubt a thriving rivalry between Chicago and Milwaukee is waiting in the wings.
Although the Bulls and the Bears have not been on the winning side of things in their recent matchups against their Wisconsin neighbors, it’s impossible to deny the fact that having a true rival provides an unmatched sense of pre-game anticipation and excitement. If the Bulls can maintain their winning ways, we may have a classic rivalry on our hands sooner rather than later.