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Where Are They Now? Hunting Down The Specter Of The 1996-1998 Chicago Bulls

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The endlessly precocious Golden State Warriors are trying to accomplish something that many people thought would be impossible: tying or beating the Chicago Bulls’ single-season win record of 72-10. They’ve been on pace to do so for most of the season, and the looming reality of that feat has unsurprisingly become the source of both an insufferable Internet meme, and heated debate about how both teams would fare in one another’s eras if only our time-travel technology were more advanced, or we could somehow otherwise subvert the laws of the space-time continuum.

Given the limits of modern science, we instead endeavored to find out what the various Bulls players from those immortal second three-peat teams have been up to the past 20 years, using the primitive tools at our disposal (i.e. Google). Several obvious names are still heavily involved in the day-to-day operations of the NBA, while others have faded into relative obscurity. What follows is little more than a cursory glance at their lives and accomplishments (and foibles, in some cases) after the glory days of the Chicago Bulls’ second dynasty.

Michael Jordan

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Between regrettable mustache choices and contractually-obligated Hanes undergarment commercials, the greatest basketball player of all-time hammered out a scheme that would allow him to keep tormenting players well into his golden years, i.e. by purchasing an NBA franchise and subjecting the guys on his roster to occasional ass-kickings whenever their 50-something-year-old owner decides he wants to feel young again.

As principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Jordan hasn’t exactly found the same measure of success in the basketball arena as he did during his playing days, which we can only imagine must be an endless source of frustration for the hyper-competitive six-time champ. But he has plenty of reasons for optimism given the way his current roster is assembled. And despite having a tough time getting his multi-million-dollar Chicago-area estate off the market, he seems to be getting by financially.

Scottie Pippen

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Rumors of Scottie Pippen’s fiduciary demise have been greatly exaggerated over the years, according to Scottie Pippen. It probably didn’t hurt that his wife Larsa made a nice little nest egg herself during her reality TV days. Speaking of his wife, Pippen made headlines for all the wrong reasons a couple of years ago after he KO’d a “fan” who he (Pippen) claims hurtled profanities at Larsa as the two were leaving a Malibu restaurant. Aside from his personal life, appreciation for Pippen’s stature as one of the very best all-around players of the ’90s has grown exponentially over the years. History has been kind to one of the league’s prototypical point-forwards who, like some of his teammates, would fit perfectly in today’s game.

Dennis Rodman

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The boozy, gender-bending rebounding machine known affectionately as “The Worm” has spent most of the past few years traveling between North Korea and Neverland, and his SMDH-worthy bromance with colicky dictator Kim Jong-un has been covered ad nauseam and almost universally condemned among sentient human beings for its dangerously irresponsible naivete.

Somehow even farther down the surreality spectrum, however, is a story from 2012 when Rodman traveled to his native Philippines to meet his estranged biological father for the first time. What emerged as a result of that pilgrimage was a portrait of a man almost too absurd to be believed. Rodman’s father, who has sired 29 children by 16 different women, is, believe it or not, named “Philander,” which is perhaps the most fortuitous birth name ever bestowed on a child in the history of humankind. At the time of their reconciliation, the elder Rodman was the proprietor of a restaurant called “Rodman’s Rainbow Obamaburger,” which is just one of innumerable ways he’s attempted to benefit financially off of his son’s stardom over the years.

Randy Brown

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Brown was a serviceable backup point guard during the Chicago Bulls’ second three-peat and had a nice NBA career that spanned four teams over 12 seasons. He wet his feet as an assistant coach with the Sacramento Kings after retiring, which eventually led to a gig back with the Bulls as director of player development in 2009. He’s since moved up the ranks and is now an assistant coach under Fred Hoiberg.

Toni Kukoc

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The Bulls’ Sixth Man of the Year in 1996 was a prototypical stretch-four who would be right at home today in the space-and-pace era of the modern NBA. Like Brown, the Croatian Sensation eventually parlayed his playing days with Chicago into a cushy front office gig with the organization. Just this past fall, he was named special adviser to Bulls team president and COO Michael Reinsdorf. Granted, it’s a rather ambiguous title with an equally-amorphous job description, which should be conducive to his borderline obsession with golf. Pippen has apparently held a similar position with the franchise since 2012, so let’s hope he doesn’t react the same way he did during the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona in anticipation of Kukoc’s imminent arrival in Chicago.

Luc Longley

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It’s not an overstatement to say that Luc Longley paved the way for a whole generation of Australian basketball hopefuls, including Andrew Bogut, Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova, Dante Exum, and now Ben Simmons. As the No. 7 pick in the 1991 Draft, Longley was the first Australian player in the NBA, and he went on to win three championships as the starting center for the Bulls.

After miraculously surviving a childhood in the Australian Outback, he somehow managed to get stung in the buttock by a scorpion during his stint with the Phoenix Suns in 2000. He was also the victim of a house fire a few years back, after which it was erroneously reported that he’d lost quite a bit of his Bulls memorabilia, which he later clarified was not the case. He’s since picked up the pieces and is now an assistant coach with the Australian men’s national team, the “Boomers,” who have qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio this summer.

Ron Harper

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The starting point guard for the Bulls’ second three-peat most recently made headlines earlier this season when, unprompted, he made the bold proclamation that his 72-win Bulls team would sweep the Golden State Warriors in a hypothetical trans-generational Finals showdown. After a requisite amount of Twitter backlash, Harper eventually backtracked and relented that the Warriors might possibly win a couple of games in their Imaginationland showdown, but that the Bulls would still ultimately prevail, in his estimation at least.

After his Chicago days, Harper, of course, went on to win back-to-back championships with the Kobe-Shaq Lakers of the early aughts, becoming one of three players to win consecutive NBA championships on two different teams, according to the giant banner on his official homepage.

John Salley

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Here’s a bit of trivia about John Salley: he was the first NBA player to win championships with three different teams in three different decades (Tim Duncan would later replicate the three championships in three different decades part). He won his first in ’89 with the Pistons, his second with the Bulls in ’96, and his last with the Lakers in 2000. After retiring, he was a longtime host of Fox’s The Best Damn Sports Show Period and has made other forays into film and television, including an appearance in a Luther Vandross video, as well as a minor role in the criminally under-appreciated Black Dynamite. He’s since become best known for his militant veganism. He’s also been known to make outrageous comments, such as his claim that Michael Jordan isn’t even in the top five of players he’s gone up against.

Steve Kerr

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Do we really have to do this one? I’m being told yes by my fictional superiors in my imaginary earpiece. Okay, so, most recently, Kerr has been best known for wisely making the career-altering decision not to take the head coaching job with the New York Knicks prior to last season. That resulted in an NBA championship and a Coach of the Year nomination. Before returning to the bench last week, he’d missed most of the season due to complications stemming from a pair of spinal surgeries he underwent this past summer. Now, presumably fully recovered, he can lead his Warriors on their historic quest to tie or break the 72-win single-season record Kerr was a part of during his Chicago Bulls days.

Bill Wennington

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Aside from his gradual transformation into a bona fide Jesse “The Body” Ventura doppelganger, William Percy Wennington has been a color commentator for the Chicago Bulls for years now. He also recently weighed in on the hype surrounding the Golden State Warriors and their hunt to beat the Bulls’ 72-win regular-season record that Wennington was a part of; although, he was a bit more diplomatic about it than Harper, offering up such platitudes as “records and rules are made to be broken,” while at once acknowledging that he isn’t necessarily rooting for them to do so.

Jud Buechler

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Judson Donald Buechler, also known as “The Judge,” was actually college teammates with Kerr at Arizona, where he was also an All-American volleyball star. In fact, in his post-basketball days, Buechler coached girls volleyball for many years at WAVE in California. He also has the dubious distinction of being one of three players — along with Kerr and Wennington — that we know for sure got sucker-punched by Michael Jordan during one of the Bulls’ infamous and disproportionately-intense practice sessions.

Jason Caffey

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Aside from Rodman, Caffey has had arguably the toughest transition into civilian life after basketball. Whether it was his Herculean virility or just a reckless aversion to contraceptives, Caffey’s promiscuous bachelor days led him to father 10 children by a total of eight different women. And once the money dried up, Caffey ended up in trouble with the law for being not what you might call “current” on his various child support obligations. It got so bad that it eventually led CNN’s folksy arbiter of family values Nancy Grace to devote an entire segment to Caffey.

And the legal woes didn’t stop there. Caffey — along with Gary Payton and Sam Cassell — was charged with assault in 2003 for allegedly beating up a male stripper in Toronto, although the case was later dropped due to inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony who, among other things, claimed afterward that he was “too emotionally distraught to strip” because of the incident.

Dickey Simpkins

Dickey Simpkins

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Dickey Simpkins was technically a member of the Chicago Bulls during their championship runs in ’96 and ’97, although he wasn’t an active member of the roster during either postseason. He was, however, active during their final title run in ’98. In the intervening years, Simpkins has been an ESPN analyst and founded a basketball development company called Next Level Performance. He also starred in this inspirational video about responsible parenting in 2007.

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Where Are They Now? Hunting Down The Specter Of The 1996-1998 Chicago Bulls

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