PARIS — When Michael Reinsdorf walked into Accor Arena on Thursday night, the president and CEO of the Chicago Bulls couldn’t help but think back to 1997.
“It seemed like just the other day,” Reinsdorf said in a meeting with writers who regularly cover the team.
The raucous, pro-Bulls crowd reaffirmed for Reinsdorf the franchise’s global reach, apparently dating back to the 1990s with Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson, Jerry Krause and His buddies often win NBA championships.
“As I’ve said before, I truly believe that the Chicago Bulls are the first global team in sports. So having our first real regular season game in Europe is really exciting to me, and I think the players are excited too. Excited,” Reinsdorf said. “It doesn’t feel like your typical regular season against the Pistons in mid-January, that’s for sure.”
Reinsdorf said he noticed many fans wearing Bulls jerseys. Of course, Joakim Noah, who grew up here, sat courtside and was introduced to rapturous applause.
But Reinsdorf doesn’t just want to live in the past.
“We don’t want to stop at what happened in the ’90s. We want to win again. That’s obviously our goal,” Reinsdorf said. “But we can’t get away from the fact that in the ’90s we won six championships in eight years and we were one of the first global sports teams. We’ve got to accept it, but we definitely want to get back to the top of the mountain.”
Reinsdorf said executive vice president Artūras Karnišovas, general manager Marc Eversley and coach Billy Donovan were all excited about the rare opportunity to play in the international regular season.
“They feel like it’s a great bonding experience for the players,” he said.
Reinsdorf wouldn’t mind if the NBA played more of its regular season overseas.
“We’ve been talking about this on the way in. Can we do something where we have multiple games in different cities around the world? Or maybe in Paris you have four teams playing instead of just one game. I think it’s a great opportunity for the NBA,” Reinsdorf said. “It started with the Dream Team in 1992, the NBA is the second most popular sport in the world, and I think the NBA has a great opportunity to play around the world.”
That dream team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics featured Jordan and Pippen after the Bulls finally broke through Detroit’s bad-boy dominance and produced two championships.
When asked, Reinsdorf recalled that rivalry vividly.
“I think back then Bulls fans still had a little bit of anxiety against Detroit. Sometimes you’d hear the music they’d play at the start of the fourth quarter and it would keep you going,” Reinsdorf said of the song “The Final Countdown.” said when. “Even now, when I hear that song, I like to turn off the station because I don’t want to hear that song.
“Bill Laimbeer’s day and some of the way he played, on the Pistons; they were a physical team. But as MJ said, I don’t think the Bulls could have won those six Championship. We obviously respect the Detroit Pistons.”
The last time the Bulls were here in 1997, Karnisovas also scored a team-high 18 points for Olympiacos, who beat the Greek pros in the final.
Of course, Reinsdorf didn’t know that one day he would hire him to run the Bulls’ basketball operations.
“Like, I never thought about watching Artūras play basketball. My memory of the game is sitting in the stands and people smoking during games, and I can’t believe it’s still a thing,” Reinsdorf said . “My memory of the game is I was really nervous. Scottie didn’t play. Dennis (Rodman) didn’t play. Toni (Kukoc) was injured; he had plantar fasciitis. So I just wanted to win Game, even if it’s just a preseason game. You don’t want to be an NBA champion, win an NBA championship and then lose a world championship.”
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