This Week in Chicago Sports History: Paxson, Bulls Complete”3-Peat” in Phoenix Thriller

By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)

WARR producer and Blackhawks reporter Sid “The Kid” is a reliable source of information when it comes to Chicago sports throughout the ages. Now every #throwbackthursday Sid gives you some of the top moments to remember for each week forward.

After losing two of three middle games of the 1993 Finals, which all took place at home in the old Chicago Stadium, the Chicago Bulls were reeling in their series with Phoenix but still had a chance to make history if they could only survive a trip back to the desert. 

On June 20th, Game 6 tipped off and the host Suns were intent on taking back all momentum in a series they fell behind 0-2 while hosting the first two games, but the Bulls put on a hot first half and led 56-51 after two quarters. Thanks mostly to Charles Barkley’s 21 points and 19 from Kevin Johnson, the Suns put on a strong second half to bring things to their dramatic conclusion. A suffocating defense helped Phoenix keep the Bulls in check in the fourth quarter, holding Chicago to nine points and three shot clock violations.

Trailing by four late in the fourth, Michael Jordan scored two of his game-high 33 points to cut the Suns’ lead to 98-96. After an airball by Dan Majerle, the Bulls regained the lead thanks to John Paxson nailing the game-winning three point shot. Chicago defeated the Suns for the third time on their court 99-98 and made history by winning their third consecutive NBA championship, the first team in 27 years to win three titles in a row.  Jordan won his third straight NBA Finals MVP award with these stellar numbers: 41.0 points per game, 8.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists.

Following the death of his father in August of that year, Jordan announced his retirement on October 6, 1993 at the age of 30.

17 Seconds and A Second Title

The 2013 edition of the Stanley Cup Finals featured two of the “Original Six” franchises and fittingly the Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins turned in a classic series with a historic ending.

Facing elimination on their home ice on June 24th, the Bruins would score the first goal courtesy of Chris Kelly, giving the home team a 1-0 lead. The Hawks would respond thanks to “Captain Serious,” Jonathan Toews, who tied the score 1-1 at the end of two periods. Milan Lucic stepped up for Boston with a goal midway through the third to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.

Facing a possible Game 7 at the United Center, the Hawks set the stage for a furious finish. Bryan Bickell scored the game-tying goal with less than 90 seconds remaining.

The game winner would come only 17 seconds later, thanks to Dave Bolland, who gave the Hawks a 3-2 lead and their second Stanley Cup in four years. Patrick Kane totaled nine goals and 10 assists in the ’13 postseason to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (Playoff MVP) over teammate Corey Crawford, who had a stellar playoff run in net.

1984 NBA Draft Defines Opens Up New Era

After finishing with the second-worst record in the NBA in 1984 with a record of 27-55, the Bulls held the No. 3 selection in the annual NBA Draft, which took place on June 19th. With Houston selecting Hakeem Olajuwon with the top pick and Portland selecting fellow big man Sam Bowie, Chicago general manager Rod Thorn would change the course of the Bulls franchise, and NBA history, by selecting Michael Jordan out of North Carolina. 

Despite not being the most heralded member of his class, Jordan’s impact on the Bulls paid off instantaneously. The team made an eleven game improvement, finishing with a compitive record (38-44) and qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 1981. Jordan won Rookie of the Year with a brilliant season stat-line (28.2 PPG, 5.9 AST, 6.5 REB, 51.5 FG%, 84.5 FT %) while making the Bulls worth mentioning again.

Other notable players selected in the 1984 draft included Charles Barkley, Sam Perkins, John Stockton, Kevin Willis and Jerome Kersey.

Sidney Brown is WARR Media's resident Chicago sports historian 

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