Michael Jordan called the Chicago Stadium home for the first nine years of his Chicago Bulls career. So even though he played the final four years of his Bulls tenure at the United Center, His Airness never fell in love with the arena as he did with the Chicago Stadium.
In 1988, the Chicago Blackhawks and Bulls formed a new partnership to create the United Center, the largest arena in the United States. Construction started in April 1992, and the ribbon-cutting ceremony was on August 18, 1994.
The 1994-95 season was the first year the Bulls played at the United Center. Jordan came out of retirement near the end of the campaign, and his inaugural game at the UC took place on March 24, 1995.
Even though the United Center was large and modern, MJ always preferred the Chicago Stadium.
Michael Jordan on the United Center: It won’t ever feel like Chicago Stadium
In 1996, SLAM Magazine asked Jordan if the United Center felt like home yet. The five-time MVP’s answer proved he still wasn’t over the Chicago Stadium getting destroyed.
“It won’t ever feel like Chicago Stadium,” Jordan said. “The United Center is like a mall. Chicago Stadium is like a gym.”
With standing room, the Chicago Stadium could seat 18,676 people for a basketball game. Between the Bulls and Blackhawks, the stadium hosted 10 Stanley Cup Finals and three NBA Finals. Jordan won the 1992 championship at the Chicago Stadium. He scored 33 points on June 14, 1992, to clinch the Bulls’ second title over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Chicago Stadium was demolished in February 1995. The Bulls began playing at the United Center during the 1994-95 season. They went 28-13 at home that season, including 7-1 once Jordan came out of retirement on March 18. The Bulls’ new home can seat around 23,500 people for a basketball game.
Jordan may not have been enamored with the United Center, but he had tremendous individual and team success there once he got used to the rims.
Michael Jordan won two championships at the United Center
The Bulls won the 1996 and 1997 championships at the United Center. Jordan also received his 1996 and 1998 regular-season MVP trophies at the Madhouse on Madison.
From 1995-96 to 1997-98, Jordan averaged 28.6 points in 123 games at the United Center. He won three league scoring titles, two regular-season MVPs, three championships, and three Finals MVPs during that span. The Chicago Stadium was his first love, but Jordan clearly got used to the rims at the UC.
The final Bulls game at the Chicago Stadium was on May 20, 1994. Scottie Pippen led the Bulls to a 93-79 victory over the New York Knicks in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Jordan wasn’t in the NBA and was playing baseball. His last contest at the old stadium was Game 5 of the 1993 Finals, an affair the Phoenix Suns won.
Fortunately for Jordan, he was able to play an exhibition game at the Chicago Stadium and properly say goodbye.
MJ dropped 52 points at Scottie Pippen’s All-Star Classic
In September 1994, the Chicago Stadium hosted the Pippen All-Star Classic. Jordan scored a game-high 52 points despite being a baseball player for the Birmingham Barons.
As he checked out of the game, Jordan kissed the Bulls logo at half-court, bidding his farewell to the Chicago Stadium, the arena he built so many wonderful memories in.
The Bulls’ six championship banners, along with Jordan’s No. 23 jersey, hang in the rafters at the United Center. The famous Jordan statue, which used to be outside the entrance of the UC, is now inside the atrium. Even though Jordan played the majority of his home games at the Chicago Stadium, the United Center is still called the house that Black Jesus built in Chicago.