In the wake of the Bobby Portis Game, a look at the most notable 'revenge games' against the Bulls in the last 25 years

USA Today

In the wake of the Bobby Portis Game, a look at the most notable 'revenge games' against the Bulls in the last 25 years

The Bulls are a historic franchise that has employed many historic players that have put up many historic performances. Unfortunately, some of said players have made a habit of logging those performances after their time with the Bulls concluded and against their former team.

In sports, that act — the act of lighting up one’s former team, that is — is commonly referred to as having a ‘revenge game.’ And, boy, the Bulls have seen their fair share of those, the most recent of which came Monday night when Bobby Portis ignited Madison Square Garden with a 28-point outing (11 in the fourth and the go-ahead three with 1:47 remaining) to lead an 18-point comeback win over the Bulls for the Knicks.

But you all have read enough about that. To compound the early-season angst swirling around the team, we decided to compile a list of the most notable ‘revenge games’ posted against the Bulls of the last 25 years, just in case you’re in the mood for a good ol’ fashioned hate read on the off-night:

Horace Grant, Orlando Magic — May 18, 1995

The line: 6 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 2-for-8 shooting

Not an impressive stat line, but a classic nonetheless. For those too young or intentionally amnestic to remember, the Magic ended the Bulls’ 1995 season in this game — Game 6 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals — at the United Center. And just after the final buzzer, Grant’s new teammates lifted the triumphant former Bull onto their shoulders and carried him off the floor.

Grant, whose departure from Chicago was highlighted by reports of a fractured relationship with Bulls brass, didn’t contribute significantly to the result of the game. But his defiant fist-pumping in the face of cascading boos certainly qualified as vengeful.

Michael Jordan, Washington Wizards — January 4, 2002

The line: 29 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, 9-for-24 shooting

In Jordan’s first ever game against the Bulls, he not only put on a magnificent scoring display, he also pinned an earth-shattering chasedown block of Ron Mercer, recalling memories of past glory against the team he achieved that glory with. And, oh yeah, he recorded his 30,000th career point during the game — if the rest of that wasn’t enough for the 38-year-old. Cold-blooded stuff.

Eddy Curry, New York Knicks — January 8, 2008

The line: 29 points, 8 rebounds, 4 blocks, 11-for-14 shooting

The highest Game Score Curry ever recorded (26.5) came in this one — a 105-100 Knicks win in Chicago and a standout performance in the last productive season of the one-time Bulls prodigy’s career.

Joakim Noah, New York Knicks — November 4, 2016

The line: 16 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocks, 7-for-11 shooting

Things obviously went south for Noah pretty quickly after signing a bloated 4-year, $72 million contract with the Knicks in the infamous summer of 2016, but this game represented one of the lone bright spots of his time in New York. It was a vintage Jo stat line and it’s only fitting that it came in his first game back at the United Center. The Knicks won 117-104.

“I feel like I played really hard in this building for many years,” Noah said after the game, acknowledging the love Chicago fans showed him, even while sporting different colors. “It’s a special place to play basketball… So it feels good to get love from the city like that.”

Side note from this one: This game was also Derrick Rose’s first in Chicago as an adversary, and he posted a double-double (15 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds). More on him in a bit.

Tom Thibodeau, Minnesota Timberwolves — December 13, 2016

The line: 99-94 victory, 21-point comeback

Speaking of first-time returns to the UC, the Timberwolves erased a 21-point deficit to steal a road victory for their new coach in his return to Chicago. The T-Wolves had nine players see game action in this one — their starters (Rubio, LaVine, Wiggins, Dieng, Towns) averaged 38.6 minutes, their bench unit (Muhammed, Bjelica, Aldrich, Dunn) 11.5. *chef’s kiss*

Jimmy Butler, Minnesota Timberwolves — February 9, 2018

The line: 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals

How 'bout them Timberbulls, huh? This dominant Jimmy Butler performance (in, incidentally enough, his first game back in Chicago) came in a losing effort, but him and Zach LaVine — the centerpiece of the package the Bulls got back for Butler — put on a show to remember. LaVine went head-to-head with the former Bulls franchise player, dropping 35 points and 5 rebounds of his own in a 114-113 upset victory. Nine months later, Butler forced his way out of Minnesota. 

Derrick Rose, Minnesota Timberwolves — December 26, 2018

The line: 24 points, 8 assists, 2 steals, 11-for-19 shooting

Nuff said.

Honorable Mentions:

  • (NBC Sports Chicago’s own!) Will Perdue, Spurs — Nov. 30, 1996: Career high 23 rebounds.

  • Omer Asik, Rockets — Dec. 25, 2012: 20 points and 18 rebounds in his return to the United Center. A Christmas miracle.

  • Jamal Crawford: Pick whichever you fancy. J-Crossover been that dude.

The Bulls (1-3) won’t face any former employees in the team’s matchup with the Cavaliers Wednesday night, but Derrick Rose and Tony Snell come to town this Friday. Fingers crossed I’m not spending my weekend updating this article.

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Monte Harrison, brother to Bulls' Shaq, makes sibling sports history

Monte Harrison, brother to Bulls' Shaq, makes sibling sports history

Miami Marlins center fielder Monte Harrison made a bit of history on Aug. 4, when he laced up for his first ever MLB game.

With his debut, he and older brother Shaq officially became just the sixth MLB-NBA brother duo in league history. The most recent? Klay and Trayce Thompson, the latter of which appeared in his last MLB game on June 20, 2018 for the White Sox. Chicago ties all around.

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Shaq used his trademark brand of heart and hustle to work his way up from two 10-day contracts with the Phoenix Suns to a multi-year pact with the Bulls. Monte's path to the majors began in 2014 after the Milwaukee Brewers plucked him in the second round of the Amateur Draft from Lee's Summit West High School in Lee's Summit, Mo. He was jettisoned to Miami as part of the Christian Yelich trade in 2018. 

In 2019, Monte played 58 games between Miami's High-A and Triple-A affiliates, slashing .270/.351/.441 with 9 home runs, 24 RBI and 23 stolen bases. He's been known to flash some leather, too, and entered this season the club's tenth-ranked prospect.

Since his call-up, he's appeared in four contests (three starts) with the Marlins, and is just 1-for-10 at the plate with five strikeouts. But we'll forgive some early-career stumbles. His first big-league base-knock, which came on Thursday, was perfectly emblematic of what Bulls fans have come to expect from the Harrison household.

Yup. A cue-shot infield single. Exit velocity: 44.3 mph. Expected batting average: .190. But he beat it out. And followed it up with a stolen base. You can't script this stuff.

"I don’t know what my mother did, a lot of prayers, a lot of believing, and trust in us," Monte said after his debut on Tuesday, via Bob Nightengale. "We just worked our ass off.''

That much is evident.

RELATED: How Bulls’ Shaq Harrison impacts games, even with limited playing time


Latest on the NBA's second bubble for teams eliminated from restart

Latest on the NBA's second bubble for teams eliminated from restart

With the NBA restarting with 22 of its 30 teams, there was buzz in early July of a second bubble coming to Chicago for the eight teams excluded to get in organized team activities and possibly scrimmages.

Now, it appears those talks have significantly slowed, if not stalled entirely.

The Athletic reported Tuesday that there is "significant doubt" the second bubble concept will come to fruition, but Friday, that bringing the "Delete Eight" teams into the Disney campus has been discussed. Any agreement — whether it be a full-on bubble or respective, in-market OTAs — would require stringent safety protocols and need to be agreed upon by the league and NBPA.

On the most recent episode of the Bulls Talk Podcast, NBC Sports Chicago Bulls insider K.C. Johnson broke down the latest scuttlebut:

Well, the latest is, you really got only one shared goal between these eight teams and that is to get some kind of formal group activities authorized by the league and the players association.

How that plays out and the form that takes, there are different goals. There are some teams that wouldn't mind doing a bubble. There are other teams that would rather stay in their own practice facilities and not travel. There are other teams that want to do regional scrimmages against another team. And complicating this is that Michele Roberts, the executive director of the players association, is on record as saying: Unless there are the exact same safety protocols going on in Orlando for the second bubble, it's a non-starter for her.

The league's attention mostly has been in Orlando, obviously, and that was a signficant financial undertaking. So you'd also have to factor in that, what kind of financial undertaking would they commit to these eight teams. It did look like there was some positive momentum for, not a bubble, but for each team to be able to hold some sort of offseason training sessions, group sessions in their own facilities, like OTAs in the NFL.

And I don't think that's dead, but there's certainly not as much optimism as there was maybe a week, ten days ago for that. I mean, it's fluid, and there's nothing definitive yet, but you may be staring at that dreaded eight month window between formal group activities for these eight teams. 

In the episode, the crew also breaks down the week in NBA bubble action, talks Jim Boylen and more. Listen here or via the embedded player below: