The Chicago Bulls have a long history of success. They hold some of the most impressive marks and records the game has ever seen, let alone the most iconic dynasty in basketball history. The Bulls have had plenty of ups and downs as a franchise. Still, their golden years and the spirit of a basketball-loving city have been more than enough to keep their supportive fanbase always by their side.
Honestly, there are few franchises in all major sports with the same mystique than the Bulls. They put the Windy City on the map outside of the U.S. and up to this day, people from all over the world travel to take a glimpse of the United Center, the house that Jordan built.
That’s why today, we’re going to honor them by talking about the greatest 25 players to ever play for the Chicago Bulls, the third-winningest franchise in NBA history. Note: All awards and averages will be solely from their Bulls’ tenure. Honorable mentions: Bob Boozer, Taj Gibson, Luc Longley.
25. Charles Oakley (1985-88, 2001-02)
Stats: 10.6 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 2.7 APG, 46% FG
Awards and accolades: All-Rookie Team
Charles Oakley started his career with the Chicago Bulls and immediately made an impact both in the defensive end and in the locker room. He was a tough, physical defender that would take no less than 100% from his peers, which perfectly suited Michael Jordan’s style.
The Bulls traded him to the New York Knicks, where he’d have the best years of his career, on a money-saving move that eventually got them, Bill Cartwright and Will Purdue. Still, his toughness and grittiness helped shape Jordan into the competitive beast he was.
24. Orlando Woolridge (1981-86)
Stats: 17.4 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 1.9 APG, 51% FG
Awards and accolades: None
Orlando Woolridge’s name isn’t mentioned often when talking about the all-time greats in Bulls history but make no mistake, this guy was a problem. In fact, he was the biggest scoring threat in the league before Michael Jordan’s arrival, and both combined for 51 points per game during MJ’s rookie season.
Woolridge was a gifted athlete and leaper that could put up points like the best of them. However, his lack of improvement in the defensive end and Jordan’s presence forced the Bulls’ front office to find him a new home after 5 years on the team.
23. Ben Gordon (2004-09)
Stats: 18.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.9 3PG, 43% FG, 41% 3FG
Awards and accolades: All-Rookie Team, Sixth Man of the Year
Ben Gordon was a polarizing figure for Bulls’ supporters through most of his career. His defense was subpar at best and he was clearly undersized for a shooting guard, yet he always found the way to deliver when it mattered the most and was the team’s best scorer during their darkest days.
Gordon could get hot as fast as he could go ice cold. Still, he was always money in the fourth quarter, overtime, and clutch situations. He’s the only player to win the Sixth Man of the Year award on his rookie season.
22. Jimmy Butler (2011-17)
Stats: 15.6 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.5 SPG, 44% FG
Awards and accolades: 3 All-Star Games, 1 All-NBA Team, Most Improved Player
The Bulls took Jimmy Butler with the 30th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft and nobody expected him to become such an impactful player just a couple of years later. His career got off to a slow start until he was forced to step up due to Derrick Rose’s injury and Luol Deng’s departure. Butler broke out as one of the most outspoken guys in the league and a top-notch two-way player.
Sadly, he wasn’t always surrounded by enough talent to compete and his alpha-dog attitude didn’t sit well with some players either. Still, he helped the team kick start their rebuilding process after being traded by Zach LaVine, Kris Dunn, and the pick who turned out to be Lauri Markkanen. He still holds the franchise record for more points in a half (40).
21. Tom Boerwinkle (1968-78)
Stats: 7.2 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.2 APG, 45% FG
Awards and accolades: None
Most people won’t remember him but Tom Boerwinkle is actually one of the greatest big men in the history of the Chicago Bulls. He was a dominant presence in both ends of the glass and one of the first top-tier passing big men.
In fact, Boerwinkle even piled up five triple-doubles throughout his career, although his biggest skill was rebounding. He averaged double-digits in boards in 5 seasons of his career and even had a 37-rebound game in his sophomore season. He spent his entire career with the Bulls and is number two in total rebounds in franchise history (5,745).
20. John Paxson (1985-94)
Stats: 7.6 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 3.7 APG, 50% FG
Awards and accolades: None
Most young fans may not care about John Paxson at all because of his role in the team’s front office but he was widely respected and beloved during his playing days. Needless to say, he didn’t impress with athleticism or impressive play but he played a huge role in the team’s first three-peat.
Paxson always came huge in the clutch and he was one of the team’s biggest leaders over his 9-season stretch. He spent most of his career in the Windy City and always did what was better for the team, even if that meant giving up minutes. Also, he knocked down the championship-clinching triple in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, so give respect where it's due.
19. Chet Walker (1969-75)
Stats: 20.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 2.4 APG, 48% FG
Awards and accolades: 4 All-Star Games, Hall of Famer
Chet Walker was the best player on arguably the second-best team in Bulls history. He was a dominant scorer that, sitting at 6’6’’, could outhustle most big men for rebounds thanks to his great hops and athletic gifts. He was even an MVP candidate for a couple of his seasons in the Windy City.
‘Chet the Jet’ was a stud. He could score in bunches and put defenders on skates with his crafty moves and great handles. Sadly, Walker was never able to lead the Bulls to a Championship, mostly because of how dominant Bill Russell’s Celtics were back in the day.
18. B.J. Armstrong (1989-95, 1999-00)
Stats: 10.7 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.4 APG, 47% FG, 43% 3FG
Awards and accolades: 1 All-Star Game
B.J. Armstrong may not have the most impressive stats among the players of this list but he still did plenty to be considered a Bulls legend. His timely scoring and sharp-shooting skills were a perfect complement to the team’s triangle offense and he even proved that he could be a volume scorer during MJ’s retirement.
Armstrong was more than just a spot-up or catch-and-shoot kind of guy. This guy could play, he was tough and had a high basketball IQ. In fact, he even took John Paxson’s starting spot during his final three seasons as a Bull. Gladly, he could come back home on his final season to retire as a Bull.
17. Luol Deng (2004-14)
Stats: 16.1 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.5 APG, 1.0 SPG, 46% FG
Awards and accolades: 2 All-Star Games, 1 All-Defensive Team, All-Rookie Team
The Luol Deng trade was a major blow for all die-hard Bulls fans. The guy had been on the team for 10 years and was one of the most beloved and respected players in franchise history. It felt like he didn’t deserve to be dealt right out of the blue.
Deng was an example of work ethic and leadership during his stint at the United Center. He was often the team’s leading scorer while also providing top-notch defense in the wing. For some, trading him away was the beginning of the end for the team.
16. Steve Kerr (1993-98)
Stats: 8.2 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 2.2 APG, 1.1 3PG, 50% FG, 47% 3FG
Awards and accolades: None
Steve Kerr is one of the biggest winners of NBA history. He didn’t put up huge numbers and was often surrounded by elite talent but he earned every single minute of playing time throughout his time in the league. He gained the respect of his peers (including Jordan) by showing no fear and a restless work ethic.
Kerr is the best hooter in Bulls history and still holds the highest three-point shooting average in the league at 45%. He hit plenty of incredibly clutch shots over his career, including the championship-clinching shot vs. the Jazz in 1997. Ironically, he coached the Golden State Warriors team that took down the Bulls record for most regular-season wins in 2016.
15. Kirk Hinrich (2003-10, 2012-16)
Stats: 11.4 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.3 3PG, 40% FG, 42% 3FG
Awards and accolades: All-Rookie Team, All-Defensive Team
If someone can say that they’ve been through thick and thin with the Bulls, that’s definitely Kirk Hinrich. He stood put during some of the toughest times in franchise history while also being a steady contributor (on and off the bench) when the team was ready to compete again.
Hinrich’s durability, leadership, and contributions on both ends of the floor made him one of the team’s all-time greats, regardless of his somewhat unimpressive resume. In fact, he holds the record for more three-pointers (1,409) in franchise history, while being 3rd in assists (3,811), steals (857), games (748), and 4th in minutes played (23,545).
14. Bill Cartwright (1988-94)
Stats: 9.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.0 BPG, 55% FG
Awards and accolades: None
Bill Cartwright was the missing piece the Bulls needed to get past their playoff struggles. He came on board on the Charles Oakley trade, as the team needed a true seven-footer that could hold his own down low and fit on the team’s triangle offense.
Obviously, he wasn’t the dominant force he was during his time with the New York Knicks but did just about enough to help the Bulls get over the hump and win the first three NBA Championships in franchise history.
13. Reggie Theus (1978-84)
Stats: 18.8 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 5.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, 47% FG
Awards and accolades: 2 All-Star Games, All-Rookie
Reggie Theus was one of the biggest fan favorites in the league during his time with the Bulls. In fact, most Bulls supporters were livid when Kevin Loughery decided to bench him and trade him to the Kansas City Kings all of a sudden in the midst of the 1983-84 season.
Theus was a long, athletic guard that would make his presence known on both sides of the game. His biggest strength, however, was his scoring. In fact, he’s still 9th in the franchise’s all-time leading scorers list with 8,279 points, right ahead of Derrick Rose.
12. Norm Van Lier (1972-78)
Stats: 12.2 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 6.9 APG, 1.9 SPG, 41% FG
Awards and accolades: 3 All-Star Games, 1 All-NBA Team, 7 All-Defensive Teams
Norm Van Lier wasn’t exactly a dominant scorer, although he averaged double-digit scoring in all but his last season with the Chicago Bulls. His rebounding was nice for a guy his size and he was an outstanding playmaker. However, the thing that always made him stand out from the crowd was his defense.
‘Stormin’ Norman’ was a hound. He guarded the rival’s best player all over the court and was constantly among the league’s leaders in steals per game. He was a suffocating stopper not even the best players on earth wanted to face in his prime.
11. Bob Love (1969-77)
Stats: 21.3 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.7 APG, 43% FG
Awards and accolades: 3 All-Star Games, 2 All-NBA Teams, 3 All-Defensive Teams
Bob Love is yet another Bulls legend that was never able to win an NBA Championship because of how dominant the Boston Celtics were through most of his career. Still, he wasn’t the one to blame, as he was an unstoppable scorer night in and night out.
Moreover, Love’s contributions came all across the stat-sheet. He was a solid rebounder and an underrated and pesky defender that could match up pretty well vs. some of the best in the league. His best years in the NBA came with the Bulls, as he bounced around the league with little-to-none success after leaving the Windy City.
10. Joakim Noah (2007-16)
Stats: 9.3 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.4 BPG, 49% FG
Awards and accolades: 2 All-Star Games, 1 All-NBA Team, 3 All-Defensive Teams, Defensive Player of the Year
Joakim Noah was the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls during his time with the team. He stepped up as the franchise’s leader when Derrick Rose wasn’t healthy, and his top-notch defense, rebounding, and even playmaking abilities led the team to the playoffs against all odds.
Noah was the ultimate Bull. He impersonated the competitive spirit Michael Jordan had left on the franchise and he was going to give it all on the court every night out there, regardless of the scoreboard or the rival. He’s one of the most beloved players in Bulls history and for good reason.
9. Ron Harper (1994-99)
Stats: 7.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.3 SPG, 43% FG
Awards and accolades: None
Ron Harper played a huge part in the Bulls’ second three-peat. He was coming off averaging 23 points per game with the Cavaliers and Clippers but he didn’t hesitate to embrace a lesser role on Phil Jackson’s team, helping them with his athleticism, playmaking, and of course, top-tier defense.
The Bulls had the more athletic backcourt in the league with Harper and Jordan leading the way. They could match up perfectly as a defensive juggernaut and he could also step up in the offensive end when needed. He ended up winning two more championships under Jackson’s tutelage, this time with the Lakers.
8. Toni Kukoc (1993-00)
Stats: 14.1 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.2 APG, 1.1 SPG, 45% FG
Awards and accolades: All-Rookie, Sixth Man of the Year
Toni Kukoc was the most talented player in Europe by the time the Chicago Bulls drafted him in 1990. However, he decided to stay overseas for an extra three seasons to continue working on his game, especially after Jordan and Pippen bullied him in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Kukoc was the ultimate sixth man. He could contribute to all aspects of the game and just had a feel for hitting clutch shots. It kind of came naturally to him. He was a 6’10’’ guy that could put the ball on the floor and knock down threes at a high clip, so he could play anywhere on the court from point guard to power forward. There weren’t many players like him back in the day.
7. Horace Grant (1987-94)
Stats: 12.6 PPG, 8.6 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.1 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 53% FG
Awards and accolades: 1 All-Star Game, 2 All-Defensive Teams
Most people talk about Dennis Rodman as the most influential big man for the Chicago Bulls’ championship runs. However, long before The Worm came into town, Horace Grant was actually the team’s top-tier presence in the paint. Also, unlike Rodman, he could actually score.
Grant was the team’s third-scoring option during the Bulls’ first three-peat. Also, he could hold his own vs. bigger centers and power forwards and had a great feel for defense as well. He didn’t get along with Jordan and felt like he deserved more recognition, so he left the team in pretty bad terms.
6. Dennis Rodman (1995-98)
Stats: 5.2 PPG, 15.3 RPG, 2.8 APG, 45% FG
Awards and accolades: 3-time Rebounding leader, 2 All-Defensive Teams
Dennis Rodman has a strong case for being the greatest rebounder of all time, especially considering he was just 6’7’’. He was vastly undersized but made up for it with a huge craft for dominating the boards, going as far as to study the trajectory of the ball when hitting on different spots of the glass, or how many times the ball spun in the air before coming down.
Rodman’s gritty defense and timely rebounding came up huge for the Bulls’ second three-peat. Even with his off-court issues, he always turned the intensity to the highest when he actually had to play.
5. Artis Gilmore (1976-82)
Stats: 19.3 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.1 BPG, 58% FG
Awards and accolades: 4 All-Star Games, All-Defensive Team
Artis Gilmore's best years came long before his stint with the Bulls, as he came from completely dominating the ABA before it disappeared. Still, he didn’t take his feet off the gas in the Windy City, as he was one of the most unstoppable two-way big men in the league during his prime.
Gilmore put up 22 points with 12 rebounds any given night. He was a top-tier rim protector and one of the most explosive dunkers of his time. He also led the league in field goal percentage twice during his stint with the Bulls.
4. Derrick Rose (2008-2016)
Stats: 19.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.8 APG, 44% FG
Awards and accolades: 3-times All-Star, All-Rookie Team, All-NBA Team, Rookie of the Year, MVP
Derrick Rose has to be one of the biggest ‘what ifs’ in NBA history. He had a legit shot at being number 2 - perhaps even number 1 - on this list before injuries riddled his career. Rose brought back hope to the franchise and the city. He was a one-man show night in and night out and dominated the NBA right out of the gate. He was fast, strong, athletic, and incredibly aggressive on the court while staying humble and down to earth off camera.
Rose even became the league’s youngest MVP ever and he was the biggest threat to take down LeBron James in the Eastern Conference. Sadly, nothing was the same after that heartbreaking injury in the playoffs vs. the Sixers. Everybody’s still rooting for him and we all hope he ends up winning a ring before retiring, as he was the NBA’s finest entertainer.
3. Jerry Sloan (1966-76)
Stats: 14.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 2.6 APG, 2.2 SPG, 42% FG
Awards and accolades: 2 All-Star Games, 6 All-Defensive Teams, Hall of Famer
Most people will remember Jerry Sloan for his role as the life-long coach for the Utah Jazz but make no mistake, he was a Chicago Bulls legend. He stood with the team in all of his seasons except for his rookie year and is 4th all-time in games (696), 3rd in minutes (24,798), and 5th in points (10,233).
Sloan averaged double-digit scoring on every single one of his seasons in the Windy City, while also being one of the most dominant backcourt defenders in the league and a prolific rebounder for a guy that was just 6’5’’. Some claim he was the greatest player in Bulls history before Michael Jordan. He was the Original Bull.
2. Scottie Pippen (1987-98, 2003-04)
Stats: 17.7 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 5.3 APG, 2.1 SPG, 48% FG
Awards and accolades: 7 All-Star Games, 7 All-NBA Teams, 10 All-Defensive Teams, 1-time Steals Leader, All-Star MVP, Hall of Famer
There wouldn’t be a dynasty without Scottie Pippen. Maybe, there wouldn’t even be a Michael Jordan - as the GOAT- without him. Pippen didn’t get the glory, respect, or recognition he deserved from the media or the team’s front office but he was the best two-way small forward in the world through his entire career.
Pippen was the best defender on a team that also featured Michael Jordan. That’s a lot to say. He could have averaged way more points per game if he didn’t have to share touches with MJ and his playmaking skills were just off the charts for a small forward. He’s the franchise’s 2nd all-time in games (856), steals (1,792), points (15,123), assists (4,494), triple-doubles (15), box plus-minus (4.2), and win shares (99.7).
1. Michael Jordan (1984-93, 1995-98)
Stats: 31.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2.5 SPG, 50% FG
Awards and accolades: 12 All-Star Games, 11 All-NBA Teams, 9 All-Defensive Teams, All-Rookie Team, 3-times All-Star MVP,10-times Scoring champion, 3-times Steals leader, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, 5-times MVP, 6-times Finals MVP, Hall of Famer
And, obviously, Michael Jordan sits as the top of this list. He's not only the greatest player in Bulls history but also as the greatest athlete ever. Period. He’s the most dominating hooper of all time, the guy that made the game reach every corner on the world, and someone whose greatness will never be matched.
Jordan played 11 full seasons with the Bulls, as he was injured for most of his sophomore year, and only made 17 regular-season appearances after his first retirement. In those 11 years, he led the league in scoring 10 times. He’s one of the four guards to ever win the DPOY award, has a perfect 6-0 record in the Finals with 6 Finals MVPs, and leads the Bulls franchise in games (930), Minutes (35,887), field goals (1,0962), free-throws (6,798), rebounds (5,836), assists (5,012), steals (2,306), turnovers (2,589), points (29,277), triple-doubles (28), points-per-game (31.5), steals per game (2.5), PER (29.1), usage PCT (33.5%), win shares (204.5), box plus-minus (10.2), and VOPR (110.6). Simply the GOAT.