“Last Dance” Week: In 1997, Utah Stepped Up and a New Generation Peeped Game

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.

MFP (Most Favorite Player): Oddly enough, it’s between Jason Caffey and Ron Harper. (Chris Pennant) (Ok… — ed. note)

Bison Dele (f.k.a. Brian Williams) deserves a shout-out too. A very talented player who stood out among many others in the 90s, Williams was a mystery to say the least. Him coming on with the Bulls with nine games left in the 96-97 regular season provided a spark and through the 19 games he played in the postseason he helped Chicago with his athleticism and nose for the ball in the front court.

Though only 27 when he joined the Bulls, Williams only played two more seasons in the NBA, using his playoff run here to get a nice payday with the Pistons for the next season. As Dele, his life ended tragically in 2002 after being shot by his brother. (Kyle Means)

Lost Soul (SI Longform)

Most Memorable Game: Michael Jordan buzzer-beater to end of Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. (Demonze Spruiel)

Favorite Stat of the Season: The record-setting year, the Bulls lost to Orlando after winning their first five. The next year, they started 12-0 and I swore they were going to win 75 or something silly like that. Bulls won three fewer games and they somehow felt more untouchable than in ’96. (CP)

— Michael Jordan shot 48 percent and Scottie Pippen shot 47% from the field and both took over 3,000 shots. Best duo ever! (D)

Most Hated Opponent: Miami Heat! Talked big ‘ish and played a little too hard throughout the regular season just to lose 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. (D)

— Utah, and that was before I found out Stockton was dirtier than Chris Paul could ever dream to be (Malone too). (CP)

Favorite Personal Moment: Growing up a huge Bulls fan, I was a huge Scottie Pippen fan. It was great to see Jordan acknowledge what Scottie meant to him after winning his fifth NBA Finals MVP. Jordan pulled Scottie over and said,You hold this, too. You deserve this, too. You my MVP, dog.” (D)

“Michael, six seconds, five. Michael in traffic, to Kerr! Fifteen footer — YEAAAAAAAAHH! Stevie Kerr, he took the pass from Michael, and he stuck the jumper!” Second best is Mike dunking on Mutombo during the playoffs and getting teched up for doing the finger wag. (CP)

Bulls Pop Culture Moment: The Flu Game. Everyone wants to play great when hurt or sick but no impaired effort will ever top MJ’s Flu Game, its lasted as the most legendary, folk-tale moment of his career. (D)

— Rodman and foolishness were becoming quite a tag team by ’97, but the main tag partner The Worm dealt with during this time was “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. By spring of ’97 Rodman was starting to make appearances on WCW Monday Nitro and “Two Sweet”ing it up with the NWO as they ran roughshod over the good guys in the then-top wrestling promotion.

There’ll be more on “Rodzilla” and the WCW in our next post, where Rodman takes his on-court rivalry with Karl Malone to the ring. (KM)

— Finally, by the summer of 1997 much was being made about the eventual “Last Dance” of the Bulls over the course of the coming season. In the offices of the NBA entertainment division, Mychael Thompson’s brother (and Klay Thompson’s uncle) had the keen idea that someone should document the Bulls over the course of the next year just in case this Last Dance was really meant to be. It was, of course, and the filming took place, the beginning of a 20-year process that brings us to Sunday and the premiere we’ve all been waiting for. (KM)

An all-access Michael Jordan documentary? How ‘The Last Dance’ was made possible (ESPN)

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2 responses to ““Last Dance” Week: In 1997, Utah Stepped Up and a New Generation Peeped Game

  1. Pingback: “Last Dance” Week: In 1998, The Bulls Dance Once More, Prove Teams Win Championships | WARR - We Are Regal Radio·

  2. Pingback: ICYMI: WARR Takes You Through The Bulls Dynasty Years | WARR - We Are Regal Radio·

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