With Rose, Butler and Gibson gone, a good time to re-rank all-time greatest Chicago Bulls

 
 
Updated 2/12/2018 6:21 AM
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  • Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose, left, drives to the basket against Charlotte Bobcats' Boris Diaw during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, April 3, 2010. The Bulls won 96-88.

    Chicago Bulls' Derrick Rose, left, drives to the basket against Charlotte Bobcats' Boris Diaw during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, April 3, 2010. The Bulls won 96-88.

As much as Zach Lavine's 35 points against Minnesota was good news for the future, the highlight of the Chicago Bulls' weekend may have been the extended tribute video for Jimmy Butler and Taj Gibson.

Plenty of ex-Bulls have been in the spotlight lately.

Derrick Rose was traded from Cleveland to Utah, then waived, so he's looking for a new team. Luol Deng visited town with the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 26, while Joakim Noah has taken an extended leave of absence from the New York Knicks.

With the Tom Thibodeau era essentially over -- except for Omer Asik -- a few questions come to mind: Where do all these guys rank in Bulls history? And should the team retire any more numbers?

Let's start by ranking the Bulls' Top 10. Actually, let's make it a Top 12, taking into consideration longevity, individual stats and team success.

The guys who played with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen don't necessarily deserve a bump for winning championships. Likewise, it was easier to make the all-star team in the 70s when the NBA had fewer teams.

And this is a career list, so it's tough to include someone such as Dennis Rodman, who played in less than 200 regular-season games. Here's the list:

1. Michael Jordan:

No explanation needed.

2. Scottie Pippen:

Not much explanation needed here, either.

3. Jerry Sloan:

Before Jordan came along, he was Mr. Bull. Sloan ranks fourth in games played, fifth in points and coached the Bulls into the playoffs in 1981 before coaching against them in the 1997 and 1998 Finals.

4. Derrick Rose:

Yes, his Bulls career was way too short due to injuries, but MVP is an exclusive club. His 2010-11 season probably was the biggest non-Jordan highlight in franchise history.

Should his No. 1 be retired someday? Yes. Rose's Bulls career was limited to 406 games in the regular season, but that's not too far below Bob Love's 592.

5. Bob Love:

As a small forward, the natural comparison in Bulls history is with Deng. But Love had six straight years averaging more than 20 points per game from 1969-75. Over a full season, Deng's best was 18.8. And don't forget, the Love-Sloan era Bulls went to the conference finals twice.

6. Luol Deng:

On the career lists, Deng is in elite company. He ranks sixth in games played, fourth in points. For most of his career, he wasn't the team's best player. He led the Bulls in scoring during the 2012-13 season, then again the following year before he was traded to Cleveland.

So should Deng's No. 9 be retired? That's a tough one.

For career performance, he makes the cut, but he lacks the star power of the Bulls ahead of him on the list. I'll say no but could probably be talked into it.

7. Kirk Hinrich:

Maybe the 21st century version of Sloan, Hinrich ranks third in games played, assists and steals, and is the franchise leader in 3-point baskets. One drawback, he wasn't on the 2011 team that reached the conference finals.

8. Artis Gilmore:

His Bulls career didn't feature much team success, but he played in more games than Rose and Jimmy Butler, while averaging 19.3 points and 11.1 rebounds as a Bull.

9. Chet Walker:

He spent six seasons with the Bulls and it was all good -- two trips to the conference finals and a 20.6 scoring average.

10. Jimmy Butler:

He's fresh in our minds with three straight all-star appearances, but his Bulls career was pretty short. He finished with a nice three-year run averaging above 20 points, with an all-NBA team and three all-defensive teams tossed in.

11 (tie). Norm Van Lier and Joakim Noah:

These two seem to fit in the same category, more renowned for their toughness and spirit than individual stats. It's a close call for who belongs in this spot.

Noah had his all-NBA first-team appearance in 2014; Van Lier was second team in 1974. Van Lier ranks fourth in assists and steals; Noah is fourth in rebounds. Noah played in more games, but Van Lier logged more minutes.

Let's call it a tie.

Honorable mention: 13. Reggie Theus, 14. Ben Gordon, 15. Tom Boerwinkle, 16. Toni Kukoc, 17. Horace Grant, 18. Mickey Johnson, 19. David Greenwood, 20. John Paxson, 21. Taj Gibson.

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