MJ, AK and ‘a bunch of scrubs’: Oral history of ’97 Bulls in Paris originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
In 1997, the Chicago Bulls traveled to Paris to play in the McDonald’s Championship.
With five NBA championships in their rearview mirror, the most popular athlete in the world on their team in Michael Jordan and one more title run to make before the dynasty dismantled, the preseason games weren’t your typical international experience.
They were frenzied affairs.
NBC Sports Chicago interviewed several people associated with the trip for this oral history, several of whom also will be in Paris for Thursday’s regular-season game against the Detroit Pistons. In fact, executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas led his Olympiacos team with 18 points in the final that the Bulls won 104-78.
Like then, the Bulls remain a globally recognized brand. And Paris remains a crown jewel of a city.
Bill Wennington, reserve center on the 1997-98 Bulls and now the team’s radio analyst: It was in the Fall so the weather was beautiful. It was nice to walk around.
Steve Kerr, reserve guard on the 1997-98 Bulls and now the Golden State Warriors head coach: Everyone brought their wife or significant other. It was a pretty unique experience to be in Paris for five days during the Bulls’ heyday.
Chip Schaefer, head athletic trainer on the 1997-98 Bulls and now the team’s Director of Performance Health: Frankly, my most dominant memory is a really wonderful week with my wife.
Toni Kukoc, reserve forward on the 1997-98 Bulls and now a team ambassador: How many NBA players get to go to Paris? It’s one of the best cities in the world. And basketball is huge in Europe.
Wennington: I remember getting off the plane and going straight to practice. There were people outside waiting for us. It was like, ‘How did you know we were going to practice right away?’ And this was before Twitter and Instagram. It wasn’t like someone could put a Tweet out and…