Sigh. Where to begin?
I only actually started caring about the Bulls after Jordan left. That might sound strange, but I was born in 1989 and as such, until he left, had rarely known a season in which the Bulls weren't champions. At the same time as the Bulls were winning all those titles so were the minor league teams in the Quad Cities area, where I grew up. Being of an age in the single digits, and also being a pretty naive kid for that age, I was almost positive these things were being rigged for my enjoyment, so I just couldn't be happy about them. I was a precocious kid, winning a local NFL game picking competition at 5 and causing the editor to call my parents to make sure my Dad wasn't attempting to put two entries into the competition. My parents handed me the phone, and I proceeded to tell Mr. Nessler about why the Bears had lost on Sunday, why I was sure the Jets would win, and what a 4-3 defense was. He was convinced enough. I believe I took the $200 I won and bought comic books. Good times!
I suppose I related that story to show you that, if there was one thing I knew at that age, it was sports. I've been obsessed with them since I could talk. Yet I just couldn't care about the Bulls. Not until that title team got dismantled and the "rigging" of my NBA team ceased. Suddenly I cared a whole lot. While most Bulls fans were slowly drifting away from the NBA (half because Jordan left, half because the Starburys and Iversons of the world were coming in) I was just becoming interested in it. I "suffered" through Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry, expressed frustration that the Bulls would trade for Jalen Rose, and got excited every draft day for who was going to be the next player to fill out the Bull's young core. I sat. I waited. I knew, eventually, the Bull's young pieces would mature and turn into a good team. Then, finally, the team got good enough to make the playoffs. And not only that, it was with a team centered around guys the Bulls had drafted! Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng. This was 2004-2005.