How Did Michael Jordan's Bulls Play?
Without a doubt, the Jordan’s Bulls should be considered one of the best basketball teams of all time, along with Bill Russell’s Celtics and ‘Magic’ Johnson’s Lakers.
The constant changes in players, coaches and game styles, along with the constant in and outs of who is considered the best player of all times -Michael Jordan- make it difficult to classify a single team as ‘Michael Jordan’s Bulls’. However, there’s a wide consensus about it being the team that performed the most complete NBA season: the 96′ Chicago Bulls.
The members of Jordan’s Bulls
Six months after pronouncing his famous: ‘I’m back‘, Michael Jordan was joining the team that was led by Phil Jackson. The team was based on a simple formula. A returnee, a point guard that kept waiting for the returnee in the shadows, the arrival of reinforcement from the Balcanes and a player willing to do the dirty work.
The return of Michael Jordan and the prodigy child
The return of Michael Jordan happened one season prior when the mythical player aged 23, was about to turn 33.
It’s worth mentioning that the year-and-a-half-long retirement had not affected his talent. He scored 55 points to the Knicks in his fifth match.
His 17 games in the regular league, on top of 10 playoffs (before O’Neal and Hardaway’s team, Magic, eliminated them) were always the introduction to a dynamic summer, both inside and outside of the court.
Toni ‘the White Magic’ Kukoc had landed on the Bulls, coinciding with Jordan’s farewell, perhaps playing too hard to get. The Chicago team had owned his rights since 1990, which made other players not accept him too well. However, the Croatian player would be decisive in the second half of the ‘Jordan era’.
The reinforcement of Rodman and Harper
Dennis ‘The Worm’ Rodman came from winning two championship rings with the Detroit ‘Bad Boys’. The center was famous for his scandals and eccentricities outside the court more than for his work inside it. Only the abilities of the Zen master were able to recruit him for the cause. He took the place of another mythical player such as Horace Grant.
The other key reinforcement was Ron Harper, a player that averaged at 20 points per night in teams such as Clippers or Cavaliers, but who knew his place since the moment he arrived at the Bulls:
“When I got to the Bulls, Pippen, Kukoc and Jordan were coming back. What was I supposed to do? Shoot myself? I would’ve been stupid!”
Backed by Andrés Montes “bricklaying, plumbing, electrical… 24 hours at your service, Harper incorporated” he knew how to perform the job that players like Pippen, Jordan, Kerr or Kukoc were not willing to do. And, he did it in a wonderful way, in antipodes of “The Worm”.
The perfect machine
The Bulls quintet we can all cite by memory -even though we never saw them live in action. (Harper, Jordan, Pippen, Rodman, Longley) along with the invaluable contribution of the bench -Kukoc, Kerr, Wenington…- were a machine to destroy teams, and they drew in the attention of the media during that season.
A player wins games
With the number 23 on his back again, Michael Jordan played each and every one of the 82 encounters that compose the regular season, averaging on 38 minutes per night.
Jordan won (for the third time) the prize for the highest point scorer with 30,4 points per night, he wore the crown for the three MVP in the season (All-Star, season and playoffs) for the first time in history. He also had the third place in steals (for those who think his work was limited to the offense) and he was the headlight that led the Bulls to the best balance anyone had ever seen since Stephen Curry’s State Warriors arrived. The difference was that they also won the championship ring (it was the fourth one back then).
A team wins championships
It wasn’t only Jordan who was at his peak level during that season; most of his teammates secured the best numbers of their careers:
- Rodman led the season in rebounds with 14,9 per night.
- Kukoc won the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
- Kerr got an accuracy of 51,5 percent from the three-point line.
- Phil Jackson was awarded the prize to the best coach.
- Krause was named Executive of the Year.
This team, with the same base, rose up with two more championship rings to complete the six that Michael Jordan won and it became a dynasty, only within reach of the greatest.It might interest you...