The Bulls last traveled to Paris in 1997
With the NBA returning to Paris this Thursday night, the opportunity is perfect to take a step back in time. Direction in 1997, when the Chicago Bulls of a certain Michael Jordan were passing through the capital.
This Thursday, January 19, the return of the NBA to France, three years later. For the occasion, the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons will face each other in Bercy, and if this is the first for the Detroit Pistons and its players who are discovering Paris, the Chicago Bulls have set foot on the parquet floors of the Accor Arena, Bercy at that time. It was 1997 and KC Johnson, of NBC Sports Chicagowent to meet the team and staff, six-time NBA champions, and took us behind the scenes of their visit to the capital.
October 1997. The Bulls are packing their bags in Paris to take part in the McDonald’s Open, a prestigious pre-season tournament. As they exit from a back to backthe Taurus is in full preparation to try to get a second three peat If basketball was just emerging in France, the reigning champions were expected as true superstars and no one wanted to miss their arrival. The Bulls are spending a week in the capital, and putting basketball on the backburner while they enjoy the city.
“How many NBA players have a chance to go to Paris? It is one of the best cities in the world. And basketball is big in Europe. European crowds are always excited to see the NBA. But they are really excited.” – Toni Kukoc
“Everyone brought their spouse or partner. It was a unique experience to stay in Paris for five days during the Bulls’ prime. -Steve Kerr
“I remember getting off the plane and going straight to practice. There are people outside waiting for us. Like, ‘How did you know we were going to practice right away?’ And that was before Twitter and Instagram. It’s not like one person can post a tweet and there are a thousand people converging. They’re just waiting.” – Bill Wennington
Removed Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, the Bulls were still led by a Michael Jordan in a state of grace, who was then considered as the best basketball player in the world, but also as the best “sportsman” in the world, he arrived. from his retirement two years ago.
Four months after winning his 5th NBA championship title against Malone and Stockton’s Utah Jazz, and two weeks before the resumption of the regular season, Jordan finally returned to Paris, a return that thousands of fans have been waiting for after of his first stint in the capital in 1990. Yes, His Majesty MJ is a world sports icon and his mere presence makes him a date written, predicted and anticipated on the calendar.
“Scottie is not there because of his leg. Dennis is not there because of his contract. And the teams we played against were already in good shape. Michael has to be Michael in two games for us to come away with wins.” – Chip Schaefer, physical trainer
“Michael had nowhere to go, he would have been mobbed. I’ve done stuff off the court for WGN (the TV station in Chicago). I was recognized but it wasn’t something too crazy. I remember going to several different restaurants and experiencing Parisian life. I wore a red beret. We ate baguette, cheese and wine. We did touristy things like that. We had a lot of fun.” – Bill Wennington
“We’ve been hit hard with injuries. So it was Michael and a bunch of substitutes. -Steve Kerr
In Bercy, the Bulls faced PSG Racing of Dacoury and Risacher in the semi-finals, the best French team at the time. Still throughout the break-in, Chicago struggled a bit but won 89-82, thanks to a Michael Jordan who put on a rockstar-like show in front of 14,000 spectators: 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists, big dunks , big shoots and 2-3 autographs were distributed. For their final match of the tournament, the Bulls beat Olympiacos of an Arturas Karnisovas, current GM of the Bulls, 104-78. Here it is again, His Airness treats and will be elected MVP of the tournament.
“MJ’s nanny is not fun. But everyone tries to take a picture with him. (..) You should know that at that time, when you play against the Chicago Bulls, they have become world champions five times and are about to win the sixth. MJ was obviously your favorite player growing up and, you know, I played in the 1992 Olympics against the Dream Team and now in 1997 against the Bulls, those were amazing experiences.” –Arturas Karnisovas
This is probably the best basketball poster ever hosted by France, one of the best teams in history, with one of the best players in history. That was the last time the Chicago Bulls set foot on Parisian soil…until now.
Text source: NBA Sports Chicago, Basketball Reference