The Chicago Bulls have been trying to once again reach championship heights since Michael Jordan departed the franchise in the 1998 offseason after winning six championships in the span of eight years in the Windy City. The closest the Bulls have come to getting anywhere close to those heights in the years since was in the days of Derrick Rose, but the shadow of Jordan still looms large over a franchise that is one of the NBA's most iconic despite not having really competed for anything in 26 years.

One of the first building blocks for the Bulls in the post-Jordan days was Jamal Crawford, who was drafted by the organization in 2000. Although Jordan was out of the league at that point, he joined the Washington Wizards the next year, and apparently still kept in contact with members of the Bulls, including a younger Crawford, as the former Sixth Man of the Year winner recently recounted playing pick-up with Jordan on multiple occasions in those days.

“The first time people hear about the story of us playing together and we never lost,” said Crawford, per The Pivot Podcast on YouTube. “The first time we actually played against each other, different teams, not one-on-one, and I think our team won. And I saw how mad he was, like he was pissed off and he went and sat in a corner, and he just sat there. Like he reacted as if he had lost a game seven this summer pickup dude almost 40 years old. It's Michael Jordan. The next day this run starts at 2 o'clock because young players got work out with your team first and then you can go do what you want. Grover's blowing up my phone, yo where you at, I'm like, ‘bro it's 1 o’clock.' ‘MJ's waiting on you, where you at, we ain't starting until you get here.' So we’re about to start early, he waited until I got there, from that moment on we played together and we never lost.”

Crawford also remembered some celebrity guests that he and Jordan played against and in front of.

” We played against everybody, Penny Hardaway, Mike Finley, Tim Hardaway, Antoine Walker, Paul Pierce, everybody came through Chicago. How UCLA is now, it was like that,” said Crawford. “…He was the first one I’ve seen having refs in pickup. Then it got to a point through the summer you got Jay-Z and Beyonce sitting court side at a pickup run. Bro just watching him like this is Jordan. We had everybody come through the gym.

An iconic legacy

Michael Jordan was indeed known for his legendary work ethic and competitive spirit during his playing days, which ended in the early 2000s after his Wizards stint.

As previously mentioned, the Bulls nowadays largely live in Jordan's shadow, as the team was once the NBA's symbol of prosperity and is currently its arguably symbol of mediocrity ahead of their upcoming play-in game vs the Atlanta Hawks.

That game is slated to tip off at 9:30 PM ET on Tuesday from the United Center.