There is perhaps no greater dynasty in sports than the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s. Take any dynasty up until the 1980s in any sport, and you'll see there wasn't as much parity at the time. Ever since the '90s, all of the North American sports teams have expanded and winning championships has become tougher than ever before.
The '90s was arguably the greatest era of the NBA when it came to starpower. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dynasty dominated a league that included Charles Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and others. But despite all of the future Hall of Famers that stood in their way, the Bulls managed to cap off a pair of three-peats in the '90s; from 1991-93 and 1996-98. It's been nearly 30 years since the dynasty began and nearly 20 years since it ended. Nonetheless, NBA fans don't stop looking back on the excellence put on by MJ's bulls.
Even though it's a famous dynasty, there's a lot you don't know about the Bulls success from 20-plus years ago. Read on to learn some overlooked and interesting facts about this dynasty.
15 They Weren't Supposed To Win In 1991
With a 61-24 record and being carried by league MVP Michael Jordan, you'd think that the Bulls were a favorite to win it all in 1991. MJ's 31.5 points per game coupled with Scottie Pippen's 17.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game gave Chicago one of the league's most loaded lineups in 1990-91. However, the powerhouse Bulls had a tough task of knocking off their old-time Kryptonite, the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Detroit was going for its own three-peat after winning the 1989 and 1990 NBA Championship, but a passing of the torch moment took place as the Bulls swept the Pistons to reach their first-ever NBA Finals. Even then, nobody thought MJ's Bulls would beat Magic Johnson's Los Angeles Lakers.
Though the Lakers won three less games than the Bulls, Los Angeles had much more experience and veteran leadership. Johnson won the league MVP and future Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson was still in his prime. Nonetheless, the Bulls beat the Lakers in five games, beginning a dynasty nobody could have predicted before.
14 Denying A Pistons Dynasty
It's common knowledge today that a team can't be considered a dynasty in sports without winning at least three titles in a fairly short time frame. With the great Isiah Thomas, Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer, Detroit won the 1989 and 1990 NBA Championship after losing to the Lakers in seven games during the 1988 NBA Finals. 1991 provided a great chance for them to put a cherry on top of a potential dynasty.
But when the Bulls swept the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, nobody could have figured it was the end of Detroit's dynasty. Chicago was simply younger and far better and they pushed the Pistons away from NBA supremacy. Isiah Thomas' body betrayed him, Rodman pulled a Benedict Arnold by joining the Bulls in 1995 and the Pistons weren't able to replace the legends.
If Detroit had won the 1991 Eastern Conference Final, there's a chance they would have thwarted a Bulls dynasty while building one for themselves. But it wasn't mean to be.
13 John Paxson Was Part Of Original Three-Peat
Paxson has been the Bulls Vice President of Basketball Operations since 2009 and held the general manager position from 2003 to 2009. He helped restore glorious years in Chi-Town by drafting Derrick Rose, defensive standout Joakim Noah and former Pistons' star Ben Wallace. Paxson's work in the Bulls' front office has made them one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference since he joined the management team.
He was also part of the Chicago Bulls' original three-peat, winning the NBA Championship in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Paxson's career wasn't jaw-dropping by any means, averaging just 7.2 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. But in the 1991 playoffs, he did average a respectable 8.2 points and 3.1 assists per game. He provided nice depth on the Bulls roster and was an underrated part of their first three championship teams.
12 M.J. Wins It For His Dad
The Bulls entered the 1992-93 season with a chance to pull off a successful three-peat. It was business as usual for Michael Jordan, who scored 32.6 points per game. The Bulls met the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals, finishing them off in six games. But tragedy and hardships struck Jordan which would lead to a sequence of career-changing events.
A month after winning the championship, Jordan's father, James R. Jordan Sr., was murdered by a pair of robbers while sleeping in his car on a highway in North Carolina. The culprits were thankfully caught and are serving life in prison sentences, but the death of his idol forced Michael to briefly step away from the game. He also said he had lost the desire of playing and that his celebrity status was becoming rather tiring.
Jordan won his third championship for father before his untimely death, providing one of the most emotional and chills-inducing moments in sports.
11 John Paxson's Legendary Shot
When people talk about the Bulls dynasty, they'll talk about Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and head coach Phil Jackson. When they think of the great shots, they'll instantly think of MJ's game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. But many forget the iconic shot made by John Paxson to earn Chicago its first three-peat.
The Bulls trailed the Suns 98 to 96 in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, looking to secure the championship. Though we mentioned that Paxson didn't exactly have a star-like career, he took advantage of the one major opportunity life gave him.
Paxson sailed a clutch three-point shot with four seconds left to give the Bulls a one-point lead. The Bulls defence held on, and Paxson's game-winning three-pointer became an immortalized moment in Chicago sports.
10 Michael Jordan's Two Retirements
As we mentioned earlier, Jordan chose to retire for multiple reasons after the Bulls won their third championship in 1993. The death of his father was devastating for Jordan, given the circumstances and role that James played in his son's life. Jordan was also unable to handle the mega celebrity status that caused too many distractions in his life.
Jordan also said that he didn't have the desire to keep playing, and the Bulls legend retired at the young age of 30 despite having so much basketball left in him. Jordan tried an MLB career but eventually rejoined the Bulls in 1995.
MJ would help the Bulls to another three-peat from 1996-98, but retired a second time in 1999 which signaled the end of Chicago's dynasty. Jordan came out of retirement and played for the Washington Wizards from 2001 to 2003. But both of Jordan's retirements significantly impacted the Bulls and NBA landscape, as you'll learn should you keep on reading!
9 Randy Brown: You Look Familiar
After the 2009 season, the Chicago Bulls hired Randy Brown to be the team's director of player development. Four years later, Brown was hired to be the team's assistant general manager. He is now an assistant coach of the Bulls and has been subject to plenty of locker room tension between the players and coaches.
Brown was also part of the Bulls' second three-peat. After four seasons with the Sacramento Kings, Brown joined them in 1995-96 and was one of their bench players. He averaged just 2.7 points per game that season, but it was enough for the Bulls to win the 1996 NBA Championship.
He would then average just over four points per game in each of the next two seasons as the Bulls won the next two championships. Brown would play with the Bulls until 2000 before playing his final three seasons with the Boston Celtics
8 Defending The Bull's Pen
The Bulls got a huge break during the 1994-95 season when Jordan came out of retirement late in the season. He held a two-word press conference by simply exclaiming the following:
The Bulls went 47 and 35 but were eliminated by the Orlando Magic in the second round of the playoffs. Chicago did close out the season strong at the United Center -- winning their last seven games at home. The following season, they won their first 37 home games. Dating back to the previous season, that gave them a record of 44-straight home victories.
Though that record seemed unbreakable at the time, the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors broke the Bulls' record by registering 54-straight home wins. Though the Dubs also set a record with 73 wins (Chicago won 72 in 1995-96), they failed to do what the Bulls did: Set a wins record and then win the championship.
7 Jordan Won Triple Crown In 1996
1995-96 was hands-down the best of Jordan's career in terms of accomplishments. His Bulls set a then-record with 44-straight home wins, 72 victories in a regular season and would win their fourth NBA championship. But Jordan also won the "Triple Crown," in 1996. His 30.4 points and 4.3 rebounds per game were enough to land MJ his fourth league MVP.
Jordan also won the 1996 All-Star Game MVP with 20 points and four rebounds -- leading the Eastern Conference to a 129-118 victory. It was Jordan's first All-Star Game since coming out of retirement. And to put icing on the cake, Jordan won the 1996 NBA Finals MVP as his 33.5 points per game helped Chicago win its sixth championship, defeating the Karl Malone-led Utah Jazz in six games.
That helped Jordan win the Triple Crown. Not bad for a guy who hadn't played a full regular season in three years.
6 The Steve Kerr Connection
Though Kerr wasn't recognized the way Jordan, Rodman and Pippen were in Chicago's glorious years, he simply did his part in bringing five NBA Championships. The 1997 three-point shooting champion was like Ray Allen back in the day -- drilling threes from downtown and doing nothing but drill threes from downtown.
In his 16-year career, Kerr averaged just six points per game, but did shoot .454 from downtown. Kerr also shot .515 from beyond the arc during the Bulls' record-breaking 1995-96 season. He was by far the most underrated portion of Chicago's success in the '90s.
It's also fitting that Kerr, the current head coach of the Golden State Warriors, led his team into breaking some of the Bulls' 1995-96 records. As we mentioned earlier, the Warriors broke the record for most home wins and most victories overall in a season in 2015-16. Kerr played a big role in helping the 1995-96 Bulls and 2015-16 Warriors put their names in the history books.
5 Oh, Canada
The Bulls are based in Chicago, Illinois in the United States of America. Not much of a connection the country of Canada, except for Montreal, Quebec native Bill Wennington who was part of the Bulls' second three-peat. Wennington joined the Bulls in 1993 and helped solidify Chicago's bench so that they didn't have to rely so much on their top three stars.
In 1993-94, Wennington set career highs with 7.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. In 1995-96, Wennington averaged 5.3 points per game and the Bulls would go on to win the NBA Championship. He was so popular in Chicago that a local McDonald's restaurant sold the Beef Wennington sandwich.
Wennington was often on the floor with the Bulls' big three. He didn't put up great stats, but he did just enough to help Chicago win three-straight while representing his country proud. Oh, Canada indeed.
4 Denying NBA Legends A Ring
The Bulls pair of three-peats in the '90s was nothing short of amazing, but for casual NBA fans, it came with an expense of seeing some of the greatest ballers retire without a championship ring on their fingers. Charles Barkley, an 11-time All-Star who averaged 22.1 points and 11.7 points per game, never got a championship.
His Phoenix Suns lost to the Bulls in the 1993 NBA Finals, and Sir Charles would never get the golden chance to win a championship again. Chicago also beat the Utah Jazz in the 1997 and 1998 NBA Finals, ensuring that NBA icons Karl Malone and all-time assists leader John Stockton never won the championship either. The Bulls also eliminated the New York Knicks six times in the playoffs from 1989 to 1996, ensuring that the great Patrick Ewing never got his hands on a ring either.
3 Scottie Pippen Left After Second Three-Peat
Pippen was just as important to the Bulls' dynasty as Michael Jordan. He was part of all six championship teams and played in seven All-Star Games while being named to the All-NBA First Team in three different seasons. Pippen was also part of the All-NBA Defensive First Team eight times and averaged 16.1 points and 6.4 rebounds per game. But after the 1998 championship, the Bulls decided to part ways with the legend.
The Bulls traded him in 1999 to the Houston Rockets while earning a small return in Roy Rogers and a second-round draft selection in the 2000 NBA Draft. It was one of the many moves Chicago made in transitioning towards a new era. Pippen would rejoin the team in 2003-04, which would be his final season. Hard to believe Chicago willingly let him leave in the first place, though.
2 Dennis Rodman Leaves, Too
Rodman made a significant impact with the Bulls, winning the NBA Championship with them in 1996, 1997 and 1998. His slick defence helped the Bulls shut down some of the NBA's most prolific scorers -- ranging from the aforementioned Barkley, Malone, Stockton, Ewing and others. But the Bulls chose to move on from Rodman after their second three-peat, meaning Pippen wasn't the only Chicago legend to leave.
With Michael Jordan also walking away from the game, the Bulls decided it was time to start afresh. Rodman chose to join the Los Angeles Lakers for the 1998-99 season. He was released after 23 games and this is where his career started to go downhill. He played one last season with the Dallas Mavericks before retiring. But Rodman and Pippen weren't the only legends to go.
1 Bulls Blow It All Up
It's not often where a team decides to rebuild after winning a championship. It was even more shocking to see the Bulls move on from legends after six championships in one decade, considering that fans were accustomed to titles and seeing nothing but the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
But after the Bulls won the 1998 Championship, the whole franchise saw a massive overhaul. Along with Pippen and Rodman moving onto other teams, Jordan retired, Steve Kerr left and head coach Phil Jackson moved on as well. This was something we never saw in sports before -- a dynasty deciding to move on from all of its key pieces within a very short couple of months.
The Bulls probably regret doing that nearly two decades later. They haven't reached the NBA Finals since winning it all in 1998 and have left the fans wanting more. It's not as though the Bulls got old and stopped winning -- the front office just decided to transition into a new era that didn't go as planned.
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