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.
’92, huh!/One year later! – Greg Nice, “DWYCK”
All you need to know about instant gratification in regards to 1992 compared to today is that Greg Nice’s famous refrain on the GangStarr classic, now suffers from a bit of cognitive dissonance cause the album it would be officially released on, “Hard To Earn” would not be released until 1994, this was in spite of Guru and DJ Premier having an album, “Daily Operation,” out in ’92.
By the time most Hip-Hop heads who didn’t frequent record stores or lived in East New York could hear the track consistently, Michael Jordan was a baseball player.
In 2020, a track like DWYCK, no matter the time of its release, could be tacked digitally onto an existing set of songs and a long-awaited documentary series — say “The Last Dance” — could be moved up a month and a half despite not being totally done. What a time…
Anyway, back to ’92, which was one year later from the Chicago Bulls’ breakthrough in the ’91 Finals. The NBA was officially for the taking at this point — the Pistons were fading as a factor, Magic Johnson tragically retired and Larry Bird could barely keep his back in one piece and couldn’t sit up on the bench when he rested.
The Bulls were looked at as a prime contender for their second-straight championship, but MJ and crew being automatic in June wasn’t something that could be taken for granted yet. There was, as they say in the business world, “proof of concept” that Jordan was a winner now, that Pippen could compete at a high level consistently and Phil Jackson could lead an elite team with Tex Winter’s triangle offense in tow.
Yet, the Eastern Conference had gotten grimier, informed with the influence and knowledge of the “Bad Boy” Pistons — with Jordan and the Bulls getting more powerful someone had to find a way to both out-play them and knock them around and one team in New York particularly relished that challenge.
And in the end, things came down to an anticipated match with the best Western team of the moment — Portland, who had their own high-flying two guard and became a late playoff season regular after making the Finals in ’90 and getting upset by the Lakers in the ’91 Western Conference Finals after compiling the league’s best regular season record. The Trail Blazers had chips on all their shoulders and they arguably made up the toughest challenge the Bulls faced in a Finals series.
MFP (Most Favorite Player): Got little response from this. The answer, of course, is always Jordan, but this section was made to create some more discussion of the Bulls beyond him and even Scottie. Feel free to leave comments under this post on your favorite Bulls from this or any other championship season.
I’ll choose to shout-out Horace Grant here for being the only Bull in the first three-peat to average a double-double. Putting up 14.2 points and 10 rebounds a game, the Goggled One boosted both per game stats up a point and a half from 90-91, giving the team the kind of extra boost that B.J. Armstrong would provide the following year and Pippen provided the previous year.
Speaking of Scottie, he had one of his most futuristic years in ’91-92 with a 21 point-7.7 assist-7 rebound line that would likely have been a triple-double line in today’s game. Btw, Pippen, Grant and Jordan all averaged at least 1.2 steals per game this season. The Dobermans were off the chain all year. (Kyle Means)
Most Memorable Game: Game 6 of the Finals. (Chris Pennant)
— Game 6, where Scottie Pippen leads the comeback for back to back championships. (Ryan Bukowiecki)
The time Scottie Pippen keyed a 4th quarter comeback to clinch the 1992 NBA Finals (Blog-a-Bull/SB Nation)
— Given the momentum of the series and the overall talent and postseason experience of Portland, their being down 3-2 to Chicago and going here in Game 6 was even more dangerous than Phoenix being in the same position and going to its home arena a year later.
The Blazers were able to win and lose in different ways against the Bulls. After winning in a slowed-down affair (93-88) to tie the series in Game 4, the Bulls used a classic 46-point performance from Jordan to push Portland to its brink in a 119-106 win.
Game 6 was certainly a ramped-up elimination game where one team saw a chance for itself to clinch a championship at home and solidify itself as one of the great modern NBA teams while the other team just wanted one more chance to keep from losing its best opportunity for a long-awaited title.
To see the Bulls under the pressure they were in this game, down as much as 15 to begin the fourth quarter, was eye-opening.
Even more eye-opening was the depth and determination the team showed in overcoming that deficit with the greatest quarter in the franchise’s history — out-scoring Portland 33-14 in the last 12 minutes and bringing a live celebration to the Madhouse on Madison for the first time since the Hawks won the Stanley Cup at home in 1938. (KM)
Favorite Stat of the Season: In the Bulls’ first round series against Miami, Mike posted a 45-9-6 line with a 67 percent TS. None of his shots were threes — for comparison, Steph Curry averaged 34-5-7 on 61% TS in the 2015 first round. (CP)
Most Hated Opponent: The Knicks. There’s no other answer. Cleveland started to get annoying too by ’92 and Detroit still hung around the Central division with some negativity, but only the Knicks were a true threat, though they were still a year from beginning to reach their zenith with coach Pat Riley.
The ’92 Eastern Conference semifinal series went seven, and though the Bulls won that deciding game going away, it was the hardest series for the Bulls since the last playoff series they lost, the ’90 ECF.
Favorite Personal Moment: Bobby (or Bob) Hansen visiting Wharton Elementary, my grade school, during the summer of 1992. He was getting all he can out of his shared role in the Game 6 comeback.
And no, he wasn’t an impersonator. (KM)
Bulls Pop Culture Moment: The Jordan 7s dropped in ’92 and Nike subbed in Bugs Bunny for Spike Lee’s Mars Blackmon character for this release commercial. This inspired paring of child-friendly entertainment icons sets the stage for “Space Jam.” (CP)
— Mike wasn’t lacking for dance partners off the court in ’92, when you can argue his status as an untouchable cultural icon was at its peak. His collaboration with Bugs was proof and even better was his collab with the only other MJ on his level — Michael Jackson.
The video for “Jam” marked the fourth single off Jackson’s “Dangerous” album, which released in the fall of ’91. Jackson’s last worldwide smash album, he marked his previous videos by sassing Eddie Murphy and slow grinding with Naomi Campbell, guess playing ball with Jordan was the only direction he could go in after all that. Also, Long Live Heavy D and Chris Kelly. (KM)
Oral history: MJ meets MJ for ‘Jam’ video (ESPN)
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