Almost every player in the NBA had to overcome an obstacle during their rookie season. In the case of Eddy Curry, who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 2001, the challenge was extra hard as he arrived in the Windy City at a time when some people still had a hangover from Michael Jordan.
What was Chicago like without MJ
Curry is originally from Chicago and was a Jordan fan growing up. When the Bulls dynasty was in its twilight years, Eddy was just about to become one of the country’s most notable prospects, having generated quite a buzz as a high school player in his native Illinois. Inevitably, “Baby Shaq” witnessed the drastic change in his city when Jordan left the game.
According to Curry, Chicago fans have always supported the Bulls, and the United Center was “always packed” even when MJ was no longer playing. However, he could also tell that some people in attendance weren’t happy with their performance and were just there because they had already bought tickets way ahead of the season.
That made him realize that Jordan’s era was truly a tough act to follow.
“In regards to playing for the Bulls after Jordan, it hit me right away,” Curry told Hoopshype. “Going to the game, right away, you realized the effect MJ had on the organization because we were horrible, but it was always packed in the United Center. It was mostly because these people had already bought these tickets in advance. This was the residual from the MJ era.”
Slowly but surely
The Bulls hit rock bottom the very next season after Jordan left. Coming off their second three-peat, Chicago logged its worst all-time record with 13-37. At the time, Curry was yearning to know how it feels to win, and the Bulls managed to do it slowly but surely.
“I felt like if we could somehow win, maybe we’d know how it feels. Unfortunately for me, we didn’t do that until my last year there.”
In Curry’s fourth and final season with the Bulls, the tables had finally turned. From finishing the 2003/04 season with a 23-59 record, Chicago made a huge leap and made the playoffs the following year, having pulled off an epic comeback with a 47-35 record on a .573 winning percentage.
After a couple more seasons, the Bulls finally became championship contenders again under Derrick Rose’s leadership. However, the once-dominant franchise never managed to come close to what Jordan's Bulls had achieved.