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
"MVP" cheers like it's 2011...— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 27, 2018
WHO'S CHOPPING ONIONS? pic.twitter.com/zhwy8ZDqoX
"MVP, MVP, MVP" and a smile from D-Rose 😍 pic.twitter.com/Vz2DrEqe4s— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 27, 2018
One more “MVP” chant as D-Rose leaves the court pic.twitter.com/vzaRbYLUTb— Bulls Talk (@NBCSBulls) December 27, 2018
(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.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.