The last time the Chicago Bulls visited France as a team, the year was 1997, Michael Jordan was reaching the peak of his colossal international fame, and the Bulls were well on their way toward securing their second three-peat and sixth NBA championship.
As part of the 1997 McDonald’s Championship, the Chicago Bulls participated in a preseason tournament located in Paris that featured a host of international squads from nations including France, Italy, Greece, Argentina, and Spain. While the action on the court was well worth tuning into — as the Bulls confidently defeated Olympiacos for first place — what most people remember from that time is Jordan’s popstar-esque presence.
Hordes followed the Bulls’ bus around as desperate fans clamored to have pictures taken with and have memorabilia signed by the one and only GOAT. In the years since Jordan’s time in the NBA, the Bulls’ international prestige has remained at very high levels, if not somewhat diminished by the team’s poor performance over the last two decades.
Fortunately, the Bulls will have a chance tonight to once again establish themselves as one of the most iconic and successful sports franchises in the entire world as they storm the AccorArena in Paris. They couldn’t ask for a better opponent to dominate as well, as they’re set to take on their division rival Detroit Pistons.
The Chicago Bulls will have an opportunity to etch their names into the history books in France tonight up against the Detroit Pistons.
With only one game on the schedule this week, the team wasted no time catching their flight to Paris to bask in the scenery and even re-enact a few of the iconic shots from the franchise’s first trip over 25 years ago.
The Bulls are no strangers to international competition, as they’ve competed in four preseason games and one regular season game prior to tonight’s matchup with Detroit. In 2009 a Bulls squad led by Kirk Hinrich, Luol Deng, and Joakim narrowly defeated Utah 102-101 in London, while that same team added Jimmy Butler to the core by 2013 and stomped the Wizards 116-81 in Rio de Janeiro.
Now that the old core has come and passed, the Bulls have struggled to translate that same level of success past 2013. In Chicago’s lone regular season international game in 2018, the Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen-led Bulls fell to the Magic 91-97 in Mexico City. LaVine registered 23 points in that contest, meaning Jordan’s franchise record of 28 in an international game still stands.
However, with LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic each liable for a big night on any given game, that record may soon fall. Matched up against a struggling Pistons roster, hopefully this team will finally take a step toward rebuilding their image overseas by posting an international victory in a game that will actually count toward the win column.