After Jordan retired, in the 1998-99 season (which was shortened by the lockout), the team only won 13 of their 50 games, a major slump for the Bulls. Only one highlight came from the disaster – the Bulls were awarded the draft lottery and the rights to power forward Elton Brand, who led all rookies that year in scoring, rebounds, blocks, and minutes. He was named co-Rookie of the Year, with Steve Francis of Houston. The following year, with the Bulls acquiring several new players to their line up, Brand was again the star of the court. Yet, the team still finished with a dismal record of 15-67, the worst record in team history.
The team continued to flounder when Brand was traded for a second and fourth round draft pick. Both picks (Tyson Chandler and Eddy Curry) were straight out of high school, and the team lacked any veteran leadership. In 2002, they picked Jay Williams, a brilliant college player, as the second pick of the draft, and the team showed some improvement with his addition. However, in the off season of 2003, Williams was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, and the season to follow was a dreadful disappointment.
Finally, after six years, the Bulls returned to the playoffs in the 2004-05 season, and they returned to the tradition started during the Jordan era of wearing black shoes regardless of whether home or away throughout the playoffs.