Bulls

NBA return timeline clouded as Toronto cancels events through June amid COVID-19

NBA return timeline clouded as Toronto cancels events through June amid COVID-19

Tuesday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Torey announced the cancellation of permits for all major events through June 30. That includes festivals, parades and other large-scale, city-led events.

The question for fans combing through news clippings, hoping for the return of live sports: How does this affect the timeline for the potential resumption of the NBA, NHL and MLB seasons?

The knee-jerk reaction is to call it a major blow. That June 30 date comes after 40 previously-scheduled Blue Jays home games and would take us well beyond the previsouly-scheduled conclusion of the NBA and NHL playoffs (in which the Raptors and Maple Leafs were both locks). It's the longest a major North American city has committed to drastic, concrete social distancing guidelines — a barometer of just how murky the response, relief and recovery process from the COVID-19 pandemic still is.

RELATED: United Center to act as storage facility for Chicago food bank

Important context: As of this writing, this ordinance does not directly bar the NBA, NHL or MLB from resuming play through that date. David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reported as much shortly after the news broke:

Still, no major sports league should or will return before every conceivable safety clearance is met. Just because this decision doesn't directly prohibit leagues from re-assembling teams, doesn't mean it won't impact their decision-making. It will. 

As will current stay-at-home edicts in the United States. Illinois' — issued by Governor J.B. Pritzker — runs through April 30. On Monday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order in his state that runs through June 10.

For what it's worth, the NBA appears motivated to somehow resolve its season at some point in the future. Recently, the idea of clustering teams and players into central, quarantined environments has been floated by prominent national reporters. Last week, Jabari Young of CNBC cited league sources in reporting that Las Vegas has been discussed as an option for such a concept.

But the logistical and emotional hurdles involved in any hypothetical return are immense. Look at the challenges Asian basketball leagues have encountered as evidence. At this point, it's impossible to say anything with even a modicum of certainty except that there is still a long, winding road ahead. 

Actions like those the city of Toronto has taken underscore that point.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.

Bulls in talks with Chicago officials to reopen Advocate Center on limited basis

Bulls in talks with Chicago officials to reopen Advocate Center on limited basis

The Bulls received clearance from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office and are in talks with city officials to reopen the Advocate Center for limited workouts on Friday, May 29, sources tell NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson.

Workouts will be voluntary and follow current league-issued guidelines, which mandate the following:

  • No more than four players may enter the facility at once
  • No head or assistant coaches may participate
  • Group activities and scrimmages are prohibited
  • Players must wear masks except for when engaging in physical activities (via Shams Charania)
  • Staff in the facility must wear gloves and physically distance by at least 12 feet (via Charania)

Pritzker has said the state of Illinois is on pace to enter Phase 3 of its reopening process on Friday. Lori Lightfoot indicated in plans released Tuesday that the city of Chicago will likely follow suit in early June, which is why the Bulls must still seek permission from city officials. 

Many Bulls, upon receiving clearance from the league in March, departed the Chicagoland area. In recent weeks, some in the area have visited the Advocate Center for treatment and rehab sessions with league permission, according to Johnson.

As of yet, there has been no public indication whether or not the Bulls will be involved in the NBA's eventual bid to relaunch its season. On that front, a litany of options remain on the table — some of which the Bulls would factor into.

The Bulls last played on March 10. The NBA suspended its season on March 11 after Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.

Why Bulls-Pistons 1991 playoff walkoff remains iconic in Chicago sports history

jordan_thumb.jpg
USA Today

Why Bulls-Pistons 1991 playoff walkoff remains iconic in Chicago sports history

“Straight up bitches. That’s what they walked off like.”

Talk about a putback slam.

Horace Grant delivered one of the most powerful quotes of “The Last Dance” documentary.

The former Bulls power forward dunked all over the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons for walking off the floor in the waning moments of Game 4 of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.

Wednesday marks one of the most iconic anniversaries in Chicago sports history. On May 27, 1991, the Bulls beat the Pistons 115-94 en route to an emphatic series sweep. Just over two weeks later, they were NBA champions.

Up until “The Last Dance,” the most memorable takeaway from that Game 4 victory wasn’t necessarily a key play or a postgame quote. It was a number: 7.9.

That’s the amount of seconds that were left on the clock when Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and company ducked past the Bulls bench—without so much as a handshake— and eventually out of sight at the Palace in Auburn Hills.

It is one of the most iconic images in the Chicago sports canon. One could argue it belongs on a Bulls “Mount Rushmore” of images with, perhaps, Michael Jordan’s free throw line dunk in the 1988 Slam Dunk Content Or MJ weeping while holding the Larry O’Brien trophy after the ’91 Finals win over the Lakers. Or his final shot against the Jazz in 1998.

[MORE: Recounting the most memorable quotes from "The Last Dance"]

What transpired in suburban Detroit on that Memorial Day was more than just a victory or even a series sweep. It was a passing of the torch. Or, maybe, the Pistons’ torch was simply doused a’la the Wicked Witch of the West. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and company caused the “Bad Boys” to melt under the lights of a national TV broadcast and ensuing media scrutiny. 

Many Chicago fans remember the brutal, sometimes bloody Bulls-Pistons games in the handful of years up until that Monday in Motown. The Bulls lost three consecutive playoff series against the Pistons, two of which came in the conference finals. The victory was not just a flag-planting in the ground. It was a relief.

And with that win, the Bulls took more of the Chicago sports spotlight. The Ditka-era Bears were fading. The Cubs were mediocre at best. The White Sox were on the rise but were still a few years away. The Blackhawks finished first in the Norris Division that year but were bounced quickly in the playoffs. The Bulls were THE story in town.

Imagine if the Pistons had won that ’91 playoff series. That would have made four consecutive playoff headaches courtesy of the Pistons. Do the Bulls rise up again? Do the Bulls even end up getting to the 1992 NBA Finals?

Be thankful for that day in Detroit.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Bulls easily on your device.