Best centers in Chicago Bulls history
When someone mentions the Chicago Bulls, most people immediately think of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Phil Jackson or Derrick Rose. The franchise has been home to some of the best players and coaches in NBA history.
The traditional center position in today’s NBA is sort of obsolete because of the small-ball era, so we decided to pay homage to some of the best centers in Bulls franchise history since Chicago is a hallmark NBA organization.
We’ll start off with a guy who played his entire career with the Bulls after being the fourth overall pick in the 1968 draft.
4. Tom Boerwinkle
When your nickname is “Mr. Inside,” it’s pretty much assumed you were a beast in the paint.
Boerwinkle is best known for grabbing 37 rebounds for the Bulls during the 1969-70 season. He finished his Chicago career with averages of 7.2 points and 9.0 rebounds.
Boerwinkle is second in franchise history in total rebounds. Only Jordan has grabbed more rebounds in a Chicago uniform than Boerwinkle.
3. Bill Cartwright
Cartwright may have the ugliest jump shot in NBA history, but it didn’t stop him from being an effective scorer and rebounder for the Bulls in their early championship days.
After beginning his NBA career with the New York Knicks, Cartwright was traded to Chicago for Charles Oakley in 1988. He wound up becoming a key component in the Bulls’ first three-peat from 1991-93 when Chicago defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and Phoenix Suns, respectively.
Cartwright played six seasons for the Bulls. He finished his Chicago career with averages of 9.2 points and 5.5 rebounds in 397 games.
2. Joakim Noah
Noah is one of the most popular players to play for the Bulls in the post-Jordan era. The energy and spirit which he played with every night was perfect for Chicago, and fans showed Joakim the love he’s never going to experience ever again.
Noah finished his Bulls career with averages of 9.3 points and 9.4 rebounds. He made two All-Star teams and was the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year. The two-time All-Star was also in the MVP conversation that season after leading the Bulls to 48 wins without Rose, who only played in 10 games because of a knee injury that required surgery.
Joakim is fourth in Bulls franchise history in total rebounds, ninth in steals, third in blocks and first in offensive rebounds. He signed with the Los Angeles Clippers right before the 2019-20 season was suspended due to COVID-19.
1. Artis Gilmore
The Bulls drafted Gilmore with the 117th overall pick in the 1971 draft, but he played in the ABA from 1971-76. Chicago got Artis in the dispersal draft again in 1976 from the Kentucky Colonels.
Once he got to the Bulls, Gilmore was a monster. He averaged 20.1 points and 11.5 rebounds from 1977-1982 for Chicago, making four All-Star appearances as well. Unfortunately, the team traded him to the San Antonio Spurs in 1982.
The “A-Train” is the Bulls’ all-time leader in blocks and field goal percentage. He’s sixth in total rebounds and seventh in points. Gilmore was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.