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Bulls practice centers: Chicago to Deerfield and back again

The Sheri L. BerCenter Deerfield where Chicago Bulls have practiced for years now will close as Bulls will move their

The Sheri L. Berto Center in Deerfield, where the Chicago Bulls have practiced for years, now will close as the Bulls will move their practice facilities to the city of Chicago. | Al Podgorski~Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: July 15, 2012 3:26PM

As the star of Michael Jordan began to skyrocket in the mid-1980s, the Chicago Bulls found him a posher place to practice.

The team had been practicing at the far end of the city in Rogers Park, in the gymnasium of the old Angel Guardian orphanage at Devon and Ridge. It’s where Jordan drilled during his 1984-85 rookie season, which he dominated as Rookie of the Year.

The building, now known as the Catholic Charities Activities Center, was small; its gym dark and cramped, described by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf as “dingy.” The Bulls were on the rise. Before the end of the 1990s, they’d threepeat. Twice.

The old orphanage wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

Reinsdorf, who bought the team in 1985, moved his players north into Lake County that year to the Multiplex in Deerfield, closer to where many of his players lived.

Jordan had a townhouse in Northbrook, about three or four miles away. He liked the north ’burbs, he told the Sun-Times in 1986. He wanted little kids to trick or treat. He was single then and doing his own grocery shopping.

The Multiplex was a public club, where others could pay to work out, too. Aside from raising showerheads and erecting glass around the Bulls’ court, the club did little to accommodate the team.

So by 1992, once the Bulls began to win and win and win again, they moved across the street to a luxurious, custom-designed facility called the Berto Center. At the time, it cost $3.6 million; it signaled a new era in the team’s status as champions. Deerfield officials say no tax breaks were extended to the team at the time.

“We spent several wonderful years at the Multiplex,” Reinsdorf told the Sun-Times in 1992, “but as the team became popular and the players like cult figures, we had to find something for more privacy.”

Reinsdorf named the Berto Center for his longtime assistant who died very suddenly during surgery in November 1991. Sheri L. Berto was just 40. “Unfortunately it was all too easy to decide on a name,” Reinsdorf said around its opening.

But the Bulls have outgrown the Berto Center, they say, and plan to move back to Chicago and sell it.

Contributing: Bridget O’Shea

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