The NBA All-Star game offers something exciting for fans to enjoy each February, away from the thrill of their own team.
For NBA teams, it presents a chance for some national recognition of their players, with the biggest basketball names coming together in a spectacle everyone can enjoy. In the All-Star game, there are no real losers, and basketball is the winner.
The Bulls have a tradition when it comes to the All-Star game, not least because of Michael Jordan. He appeared in every game between 1985 and 1993, returning for three years between 1996 and 1998. He is perhaps the most famous of all the Bulls All-Star players, having a persona the world over. After he returned from his second retirement, he even played twice more, although this time with the Washington Wizards. A CBS article on his return reports he was 39 when he appeared in his final All-Star game.
In recent years, the Bulls have provided a handful of All-Stars. Whether they will for the game this February is up for discussion; a Bwin Sports piece on the All-Star game reveals they’ve provided 11 players over the last ten years, the eighth highest from across the divisions. Will that be 12? Possibly, Zach LaVine played last year, and who knows if this time out, we’ll see a Bulls player on the court.
LaVine is where we begin our roundup of the other Bulls All-Stars from the last few years.
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected LaVine with the 13th overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, focusing on his long-term potential rather than immediate impact. His time with the UCLA Bruins had marked him out as one for the future, and he certainly delivered. He was traded to the Bulls in exchange for Jimmy Butler and the rights to Justin Patton in 2017. By 2020/21, he was on fire, averaging career highs in scoring and shooting efficiency, which led to him being picked as a reserve for the All-Star game. He played just over 28 minutes, scoring 13 points, and could well be in contention this season.
Butler was drafted with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft by the Bulls and achieved three All-Star picks with them in 2015, 2016 and 2017. His record with the Bulls was impressive; he was named the 2014–15 NBA Most Improved Player and picked as a reserve for the Eastern Conference in the All-Star Game. He was picked for the 2016 game, dropped out because of injury, and was finally named a starter in 2017. He’s since appeared twice more in the exhibition event, once as a Timberwolves player and once whilst representing his current team, Miami Heat.
Spanish player Gasol benefited from Butler’s 2016 injury; he was called up to the All-Star team to replace his teammate. He was no stranger to the game, having represented the Grizzlies in 2006 and the Lakers on three occasions between 2009 and 2011. His spell with the Bulls brought two more All-Star outings, but not the coveted NBA Championship, which he won twice with the Lakers. Gasol is now back in his homeland, representing FC Barcelona on the court, where his career started in 1998. For more on the Bulls, please check out our Chicago Bulls forum!