Long before celebs jumped on the LeBron bandwagon, they flocked to MJ and the Bulls

Carmen Electra and Dennis Rodman

Dennis Rodman (right) with then-wife Carmen Electra (left) during a press conference at the Planet Hollywood restaurant in Hollywood, Calif. in 1999. (STEVE GRAYSON /Allsport)

Celebrities like winners. And because the Bulls won six titles in the 1990s, celebrities really seemed to like the Bulls back then.

With former Bulls players getting together Wednesday at the Montgomery Club in River North for the Chicago Bulls Insider Session: Championship Edition, which benefited Chicago Bulls Charities, I decided to ask about the bold names in the crowd during their title runs.

“Leonardo DiCaprio came into the locker room after the Utah victory in '98 — that was just after ‘Titanic' came out,” said Bill Wennington, now the Bulls radio color commentator, adding that he and his teammates were too busy celebrating their title to get star-struck. “Everyone was celebrating and in the moment, so it was more like ‘Look whose here.' "

The Tribune quoted DiCaprio as saying "It's dope" when asked at the time what he thought of the Bullls championship.

"Penny Marshall was always around," Wennington said. "Eddie Vedder was around a lot, but he was one of us because he was always with Dennis (Rodman).”

In Wennington's 2004 book, "Tales from the Bulls Hardwood," he said actress Carmen Electra was also in the locker room for the '98 celebration: "It was pretty much the team, although I did get to douse Carmen Electra with water, because she was there hanging out with Dennis." Rodman spontaneously married Electra months later in Las Vegas, which is also where he partied with Smashing Pumpkins rocker Billy Corgan during the NBA Finals in 1997. Rodman and Electra divorced after six months of marriage.

“I remember with Dennis, having Madonna there,” said Randy Brown, now the Bulls assistant general manager. Brown said the famous fans sometimes came up during games. “We'd have moments where we'd lean over and have a conversation about who was in the crowd.”

Celebs these days have been flocking to the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, in large part because of megastar LeBron James. Pop stars Justin Bieber and Drake were spotted at Heat games last year, though they have no Miami ties. It's reminiscent of the '90s Bulls.

“We had Michael Jordan,” said Stacey King, now the Bulls TV color commentator. “Everyone wanted to come see those Bulls teams. We traveled well. It was like being in a rock band.”

lgomez@tribune.com | Twitter @TribLuis

For more celebrity news and sightings in Chicago, go to chicagotribune.com/luis

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