With ESPN’s much-anticipated, 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan and the 1990s Chicago Bulls, “The Last Dance,” premiering this Sunday, we at WARR Media want to take you through each of the six championship seasons that made up that unprecedented (at least in Chicago) and still-unrivaled decade long run.
Members of the WARR.com staff, The D & Davis Show and some of our close friends will touch on the six title runs with the specific talking points that you see below.
We start in 1991, a time when pressure was starting to really exert itself on Michael Jordan — who had shown himself to be the NBA’s greatest player by that time, but had nowhere near the postseason success of prior MVPs Larry Bird and Magic Johnson.
Similar pressure was on Scottie Pippen, who was the clear No. 2 and an emerging All-Star, but hadn’t especially asserted himself in the postseason, especially in the physical encounters with long-time tormentors, the Detroit Pistons.
The Bad Boys were looking to three-peat and the Bulls were the only team who could really stop them. It took some time out the gate for the team to find itself, but when it did it secured home court throughout the playoffs and set the stage for a dominant 14-2 postseason that pushed the Bulls not only past Isiah and crew, but past Magic Johnson himself and the team that defined the 1980s, ensuring that a new decade was at hand with a new franchise steering the direction of the NBA.
MFP (Most Favorite Player): The GOAT was No. 1 (of course, that’s why this section is MFP, not MVP — ed. note), but definitely had a lot of love for Scottie Pippen at the time too. (Ryan Bukowiecki)
— Tie between Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. MJ for scoring like crazy and Pip for locking down Magic in the Finals. (Demonze Spruiel)
Most Memorable Game: The mind being what it is, it’s gonna be hardest to single out a singular game from this season than the others given its furthest proximity to the present.
Basketball Reference is a blessing, it reveals such standouts as the Bulls’ season-high 155 points in a 155-127 win at home to Phoenix in December of 1990, only a couple weeks after they scored 151 in a six-point win at Denver. Interestingly enough, that Denver game was the last game in the ’90-91 season the Bulls entered without a record over .500. They were 6-6 and playing the last game of their routine “Circus” West Coast road trip.
After beating the Nuggets, the Bulls extended what was then a two-game win streak to seven and they didn’t lose more than two games in a row for the rest of the season, including the postseason (they actually had their season-long losing streak, a three-gamer, in the first three games of the season).
Arguably the most memorable regular-season loss occurred in a two-overtime affair where Boston prevailed 135-132. The Bulls lost the only other OT game they played in the regular season about a week later against the 76ers.
Once more with their backs against the wall, the Bulls produced what would probably be the easiest answer to this section — their dominant 107-86 win over the Lakers in Game 2 of the Finals. After losing Game 1, Chicago proved that the Lakers were closer to being a fluke in this series than the Bulls were in their first championship series. Pip flailed out his long limbs at Magic and frustrated him from half-court on and Mike stunned the world with his mid-air acrobatics on several plays, including THAT play.
Of course, they didn’t lose again in the series, winning in five games and winning by no less than seven points in those four wins. (Kyle Means)
Favorite Stat of the Season: Michael Jordan averaging over 31 points per game in the Finals after leading the league in scoring during the season (31.5 per), disproving the belief that a high-volume scorer couldn’t lead a team to a championship. (D)
— Until the Warriors breakthrough in 2015, the Bulls were the last team to win an NBA championship despite fielding an entire roster lacking in championship or Finals experience. None of the Bulls players had logged even one minute of NBA Finals experience prior to Game 1 against the Lakers. (RB)
Most Hated Opponent: Definitely the Detroit Pistons. The Bulls were finally able to slay their biggest foe, who never challenged them again after being forced to walk out early after the sweep in Game 4. (D)
Favorite Personal Moment: The walk out, of course — not only did it satisfy the Bulls and their fans after three straight years of playoff eliminations to Detroit, it pretty much fueled the franchise through the rest of that title run and five more. Never would Jordan allow him and his team to be disrespected again. (D)
— A small moment, that only me and my moms seemingly remember — one of the older kids on my block, a cool guy but also an affable tormentor at times, loved Magic and the Lakers more than anything. Given his age, it made sense, but his devotion led him to stand out in the middle of the street crying in his Magic jersey after the Game 5 clincher, while I and everyone else celebrated the Bulls win.
Didn’t know it at the time but I learned so much about what basketball and sports would come to mean to me in that moment. I also learned for the first time how much of a benefit it is to root for Michael Jordan and not against him. (KM)
Bulls Pop Culture Moment: Michael Jordan crying and holding the Larry O’Brien Trophy. You still see that video and photo as a representative moment for when someone accomplishes a long-held goal. (D)
— The September after the title win, MJ gets to host the season premiere of “Saturday Night Live” with Public Enemy as musical guest. What had to have been a top-3 Blackest SNL ever at the time and still maybe a top-5 in that category.
Mike’s mere presence elevates the episode. He wasn’t a natural for the stage, but he was game — like the competitor he always is, he was gonna make sure whether you were entertained or not it wasn’t going to be for lack of effort on his part. Plus, he looked like he had fun the whole time, which was a good thing to see after how hard he worked to get where he was. (KM)
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