Is the Bulls’ close connection to the city of Chicago fading?

Jerry Sloan, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
Jerry Sloan, Chicago Bulls (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

How important is the connection between the team and the city it’s located? Well, I don‘t think, that city can truly get behind the team if that team doesn‘t feature values, that particular city represents. Perhaps no team has been more synonymous with the place it calls home more so than the Chicago Bulls.

Historically, since its incorporation as a city in 1837, Chicago was an industrial place.  They were manufacturing a lot of stuff, from bicycles and radios to steel. During WWII steel mills of Chicago accounted for 20% of total steel production in the USA. Another thing is that a lot of people have migrated to Chicago during World Wars. Especially from Europe. They started from nothing and had to build themselves. In a way, Chicago still has that blue-collar mentality.

After previous stints by the Chicago Stags and later the Chicago Packers/Zephyrs, the Chicago Bulls arrived as the third and final franchise that would call the Windy City home. In my opinion, they couldn’t have done a better job choosing a mascot and logo when it comes to representing that grit and toughness that has defined the city. From Jerry Sloan and Chet Walker to Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, this is a team of fighters and intense personalities.

But lately, I think they’ve begun to lose that quality.

Do the Chicago Bulls still reflect the roots of the city they call home?

As far as modern Bulls teams go, no roster has better exemplified that than the ones led by Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng in the early 2010s. Since that core fell apart, Chicago has been desperately searching for a connection with their team like that ever since. This issue has only been compounded by the fact no Bulls team has been particularly all that good ever since.

It almost seems like the day they let Tom Thibodeau walk, that’s when that connection started to shift. He emphasized toughness, defense, togetherness.  All those things, that Chicagoans are proud of. I think people saw themselves on the court in a way that players were going all out during every game.

But after Thibs left, it all started to change. The team became more offense-oriented and lost their grit. Right now, they’re trying to get that connection back. For all his faults, I do understand why Arturas Karnisovas has stressed the importance of continuity and allowed this team time to develop their own identity. But will they be able to do that? It will be interesting to see.

I’m not sure that you can build your team like the Rose Bulls anymore, prioritizing defense first while depending on one player to generate most of the offense. But maybe Chicago’s identity is changing too. And maybe, just maybe, that’s something to be proud of and look forward to, rather than remaining stuck in the past and reminiscing over what-could-have-beens.

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