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Running with the Bulls

We love Chicago sports history, so we spent the weekend binge-watching The Last Dance. The ten-part documentary by ESPN Films covers the Bulls 1997–98 championship season, the last year of the Bulls’ NBA dominance. The Chicago History Museum is home to several items from the championship teams of the 1990s.

Scottie Pippen #33 Chicago Bulls jersey front and back
Scottie Pippen wore this jersey during the 1998 championship series. He was on all six of the Bulls’ championships teams. Pippen, a top-five draft pick from the University of Central Arkansas, arrived in Chicago in 1987. As a small forward, Pippen helped establish the once-struggling franchise as the team to beat in the NBA. Though he was almost always overshadowed by Jordan’s superstardom, Pippen built a reputation as a gritty player who was an essential part of the Bulls dynasty. His retirement from the NBA led to the Bulls retiring his #33 jersey. CHM, 2005.82.3

Chicago Bulls souvenir helmet
This Chicago Bulls fans’ souvenir helmet was one of the many items Chicago Bulls fans wore to demonstrate their support of and devotion to their team. The same year that this helmet was made, the Chicago Bulls won the 1998 NBA Championship. The Bulls’ name refers to Chicago’s long history as a center of livestock trading. CHM, 1998.93a-c

Action shot, Chicago Bulls during the 1997-1998 season at the United Center
This photograph was taken during the 1997–98 season at a home game at the United Center. CHM, ICHi-040439; Betty Kubis, photographer

Window display of mannequins in Bulls jerseys seated at counter
Even the city’s department stores got in on the action. This Carson Pirie Scott window features a display of mannequins posed as Chicago Bulls basketball players sitting on a bench, Chicago, August 16, 1995. Uniforms from left: Toni Kukoc (#7), Michael Jordan (#23), and Scottie Pippen (#33). CHM, ICHi-068388; John McCarthy, photographer

Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan (background) during a 1993 game against the Phoenix Suns
Scottie Pippen (#33) and Michael Jordan (#23) during game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns, June 11, 1993. ST-10000029-0024, Chicago Sun-Times Collection, CHM

Michael Jordan Bulls uniform jersey and shorts
Michael Jordan wore this uniform during the 1989–90 season. The Bulls were founded in 1966. Despite great players such as Bob Love, Jerry Sloan, and Norm Van Lier, they failed to capture a single NBA championship until 1991, when Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson led the team to the first of six championships during the 1990s. The number 23, worn by Jordan, was retired for the Chicago Bulls franchise. CHM, 1990.83c-d

Black Air Jordan shoes worn by Michael Jordan
These Nike basketball shoes were most likely on Michael Jordan’s feet when he took “the Shot” that led the Chicago Bulls to victory against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first round of the 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs. While they ultimately lost to the Pistons, Michael “Air” Jordan would later become one of the greatest players of all time, leading the Chicago Bulls to six championships during the 1990s, including two “three-peats” familiarly known as the “repeat three-peat.” Air Jordans remain some of the most coveted sneakers in the shoe market. CHM, 1990.83e-f

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