Ranking of Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ top 10 opponents in the Chicago two-three

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Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were hugely successful in the 1990s. They reached the finals six times over the decade and walked away with six NBA titles – including two triple rounds – arguably becoming one of the biggest NBA history dynasties in the process.

While the Bulls’ success has been great for the city of Chicago, it has come at the expense of other teams in the league landscape, as the Bulls have prevented a plethora of great teams from hoisting the title trophy during of their six championship seasons. Some of these teams had the opportunity to win a ring before or after the Bulls’ epic race, while others did not. With that said, here’s a look at the top 10 teams the Bulls have beaten in the playoffs in their six league seasons.

10. Detroit pistons (1990-1991)

The feud between the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls in the late 1980s and early 1990s has been well documented, and has been echoed by ESPN’s new documentary series on Michael Jordan and the Bulls, “The Last Dance ”. Episodes three and four of the series focused on the playoff fights between the two teams and how the Bulls had to overcome the Pistons to become champions. In 1991, they finally did, beating the Pistons 4-0 in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Pistons ’90 -91 iteration was fresh from three consecutive appearances in the finals, so they were older – and a bit more beaten – than they were when they were at the top of their team power. They were still solid as they had defensive player of the year at Dennis Rodman, won 50 regular season games and qualified for the conference finals before meeting a team of Bulls prepared for their first championship round .

9. Orlando Magic (1995-96)

It’s hard to talk about 95-96 magic without thinking about what could have been, as it was the last season that Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway played together in Orlando. If the two had played together longer, the course of NBA history would have been different, and Orlando might have a championship banner, or two. Instead, O’Neal signed with the Lakers in free agency after being swept by Jordan and the Bulls in the 1996 Eastern Conference final.

For the Bulls, the 96 series between the two teams was personal, as the Magic had eliminated them from the playoffs the year before, after Jordan returned from his time as a baseball player, and then progressed to the final. (In all honesty, Jordan was probably still a little rusty at the time after a long period of absence from court.) The Magic won a franchise record of 60 games in 1995-96, which was the third best record in the league that year, but in the end, they weren’t up to a Bulls team who was about to launch a second hat-trick.

8. New York Knicks (1992-93)

After losing to Chicago in consecutive playoffs in 1991 and 1992, the Knicks finally felt like they had a team capable of beating the Bulls in 1992-93. Before the season started, they traded Mark Jackson with the Los Angeles Clippers for Charles Smith, Doc Rivers and Bo Kimble. They also acquired the quadruple All-Star Rolando Blackman from the Mavericks. Things went well for the Knicks in the regular season, as they tied a franchise record with 60 wins and finished with the best record in the East. Pat Riley was also named Coach of the Year.

The Knicks managed to overtake the Pacers and Hornets with relative ease in the first two rounds of the playoff season, and even took a 2-0 lead over the Bulls in the Eastern Conference final. . In the end, however, they couldn’t maintain that success, as the Bulls won the next four games to advance to the NBA Finals, where they would win their third straight title. The Knicks would get another shot at a title the following year after Jordan retired for the first time, but fell to the Rockets in the 1994 NBA Finals in seven games.

7. Indiana Pacers (1997-98)

The 1997-1998 Pacers were a muscular team with a solid defense and two All-Stars in Reggie Miller and Rik Smits, and they pushed the Bulls about as hard as any team in their title seasons. In fact, they were the only team (of the 24 the Bulls faced in the playoffs in their six league seasons) that forced a seventh game against Chicago; which they did in the 1998 Eastern Conference finals. Former Bulls goaltender Steve Kerr even called the seventh game against the Pacers in 1998 “the scariest” of the Bulls. In the end, the Bulls emerged victorious in Game 7 and then won their sixth title. The Pacers, meanwhile, are still waiting to win their first NBA championship.

6. Los Angeles Lakers (1990-91)

Just as the Pistons were no longer at the top of their team power when the Bulls finally defeated them in 1991, the same could be said of the Lakers this same season. In 1991, Magic Johnson and the Lakers came out of a decade in a row in the playoffs, and while they are still excellent, they just weren’t the same team as before. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was gone, while Johnson and James Worthy both declined athletically. The Lakers were still good enough to win 58 regular season games and advance to the NBA Finals, but once there, they couldn’t keep up with the young and hungry Bulls, who won the series in five games. It was Chicago’s only series of finals in the decade that didn’t span six games.

For the Lakers, the Bulls’ 1991 loss turned out to be the end of an era, as it was the last time they qualified for the final in nearly a decade, and it was the last Johnson’s playoff run as he retired from the NBA before the start of the 1991-92 season.

5. Utah Jazz (1997-98)

After losing to the Bulls in the NBA finals in 1997, the Jazz got another shot in 1998. They weren’t as good at records as the previous season (62 wins in 1997-1998 versus 64 victories in 1996). -97), but they were practically the same team as the previous year. In the end, they also suffered the same fate, losing in the final in six games against Jordan and the Bulls. This time, the Jazz were able to take the first game in the series, but the Bulls quickly rebounded and took a 3-1 lead. The Jazz eventually lost the streak to Jordan, winner of the game against Byron Russell in the sixth game, which became one of the most famous shots in NBA history.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (1991-1992)

The 1992 NBA final between the Bulls and the Blazers was particularly intriguing due to media rivalry between Jordan and Blazers goalkeeper Clyde Drexler. Jordan and Drexler had similar skills, and the Blazers had even passed on Jordan’s editorial staff because they already had Drexler on the list. While Drexler was a great player and a future Hall of Fame member, Jordan did not like being compared to Drexler, and he used comparisons as motivation in the 1992 final. Jordan averaged 35, 8 points per game over the series Chicago won in six games. ESPN recently ranked the Trail Blazers from 1991 to 1992 as the 37th best NBA team of all time; the highest ranking of any opponent in the Chicago final. Here’s what they said about the Blazers:

“Making their second appearance in the final in three years, the Blazers faced a team from Bullgernaut Bulls in the middle of their first hat-trick. The Blazers still managed to steal a game from Chicago and were even 2-2 halfway through the series, but a return of the Bulls in game six prevented Portland from becoming the only team to take Chicago at a distance. final. ”

3. Seattle Supersonics (1995-96)

The Supersonics were a force to be reckoned with in the Western Conference in the 1990s, and 1995-96 was their best team season. Led by defensive player of the year Gary Payton, the Sonics had a dominant defense and they were also electrically offensive, largely thanks to Shawn Kemp, one of the most explosive dunkers the league has ever seen. Kemp and Payton were both named to the All-Star Game in 1996 and the Sonics won a franchise record of 64 games, which was enough for the best Western record.

The Sonics beat defending champion Rockets and a jazz team that would win the conference for the next two years on their way to their final showdown with Chicago. Unfortunately for the Sonics, they couldn’t quite keep up with the Bulls, who had won a league record of 72 games in the regular season. Chicago took a 3-0 lead in the Sonics series, and eventually took the 4-2 series to claim their fourth title.

2. Phoenix Suns (1992-93)

The Suns turned things up before the 1992/93 season, when they traded with the Philadelphia 76ers for star striker Charles Barkley, and added Paul Westphal as their new coach. The changes largely paid off, with the Suns winning a franchise record of 62 games during the season, and Barkley was named MVP NBA. The Suns then eliminated the Lakers, Spurs and Sonics en route to their first final appearance since 1976. Although the Bulls eventually won the series in six games, it took a Herculean effort from Jordan, who average 41 points per game over the course. of the series, and lost 55 points in a match 4 win.

1. Utah Jazz (1996-97)

After several appearances in the Western Conference finals and more than a decade in the playoffs, the Jazz finally broke through and reached the NBA finals in 1997. They were the best team Utah record, since they won 64 regular season games. , which was good for the Western seed. Karl Malone had another stellar season for Jazz and was named the NBA MVP in the process.

Once the playoffs were over, the Jazz had no problem getting past the Clippers, Lakers and Rockets to make it to the finals for the first time. Once there, the Jazz fought well against Chicago, as three of the Bulls’ series wins were four points or less, including Game 1, which the Bulls won with buzzer Jordan. The Bulls finally won the series 4-2 to win their fifth title.



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