Picking four faces for a Bulls all-time Mount Rushmore
Who is on the Bulls' Mount Rushmore?
Who is on the Bulls’ Mount Rushmore?
The assignment isn’t as easy as one might think.
Sure, you start with Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. They’re two first-ballot Hall of Famers who served as linchpins for one of the greatest dynasties in the history of professional sports.
But then who?
Along with Jordan and Pippen, Jerry Sloan and Bob Love are the two other retired numbers in franchise history. Phil Jackson coached six championship teams. Johnny “Red” Kerr is an integral and identifiable organizational fixture. Derrick Rose became the youngest Most Valuable Player in NBA history and was on a Hall of Fame trajectory until knee injuries hampered him.
There are emotional arguments for heart-and-soul guys like Norm Van Lier and Joakim Noah. And this doesn’t even account for people like Chet Walker, Artis Gilmore and Jerry Krause.
Like we said, it’s hard. But here’s a stab.
He’d be on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore, much less the Bulls’. He’s one of the most influential athletes of all-time, both on and off the court.
Jordan earned NBA Finals MVP honors all six times the Bulls won championships. He won five regular season MVP awards, earned 14 All-Star appearances and 11 All-NBA designations, and won Defensive Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year and All-Star game MVP.
He’s the franchise leader in most major statistical categories. His legendary competitiveness and ability to deliver under pressure were synonymous with his play. And his status as one of the pioneers of sports marketing is almost immeasurable.
Anyone who witnessed the 1993-94 season where Michael Jordan chased his minor-league baseball dream in his shocking first retirement from the NBA knows that calling Pippen "Robin" to Jordan’s "Batman" sells Pippen short. He served as the perfect complement to Jordan and could take over games, too.
Exhibit A: His defensive work on myriad assignments in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers.
Pippen earned seven All-Star, seven All-NBA and 10 All-Defensive team designations. He ranks second in franchise history behind Jordan in most major statistical categories, including the advanced metrics that measure, well, winning.
Krause hired him from the Continental Basketball Association at a time when Jackson considered leaving the profession. Eleven championships later (five with the Lakers) he’s the most decorated coach in league history.
Jackson used unconventional tactics like meditation sessions in practice to earn the nickname “Zenmaster.” But his team principles (made famous by his use of the triangle offense) developed depth and trust, and created a system of play that transcended star power. His ability to reach and empower players was unique.
This is the hardest selection. Walker’s Hall of Fame career is associated with other stops as well. Kerr, Sloan, Love, Noah and Van Lier are essential ingredients to the franchise’s history and were tough to omit.
But Rose’s impact goes beyond what he accomplished on the court. It's about what he created in the community — hope and excitement. Here's a quiet kid who rose from one of the roughest neighborhoods in Chicago to become not only a star, but the face of an entire city. He almost single-handedly created the most buzz around the Bulls since the dynasty dismantled.
Before his knee injuries, Rose’s combination of power and athleticism was spellbinding. He routinely produced did-you-see-that drives and dunks of daring difficulty. He won Rookie of the Year, was the franchise’s first All-Star selection since Michael Jordan and won the 2011 MVP (becoming the youngest ever to claim the award). He belongs.