The Chicago Bulls are one of the most celebrated franchises in basketball. As an organization, the Chicago Bulls have won 6 Championship Titles. All 6 Championships came in the 1990s, when the Chicago Bulls dominated the league.
The Chicago Bulls joined the National Basketball Association before the start of the 1966-67 season. The Bulls would struggle early in their history to find team success. By the middle of the 1970s, the Bulls started to become competitive. They had an impressive roster of players that included Jerry Sloan, Bob Love, Norm Van Lier, Artis Gilmore, and Chet Walker. That squad was defined by hard work and defense. The toughness of the team lined up well with the persona of Chicago. Despite finding success in the 70s, the Bulls were far from a contender.
By 1984, the Bulls had not accomplished much as a franchise. They were a long way from relevancy, and appeared to have no shot at winning an NBA Championship.
Michael Jordan was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. MJ going third in the draft is now considered one of the biggest steals in the history of the NBA. When MJ was entering the league, there were legitimate questions about his game. He was not a great long range shooter, and his man to man defense was not strong. Mike quickly turned those weaknesses into strengths.
Mike’s impact in his rookie season was immeasurable. His charisma, his showmanship and his skill level made him the number one attraction in the NBA. Home attendance for the Chicago Bulls went up dramatically. When Mike went on the road, fans of the opposing teams came out in droves to watch him play. The artistry of MJ was second to none. His aerial exploits, and passion for the game, made him magnetic to watch.
With Jordan, the Bulls would become relevant. But they still were not considered contenders in the early days of MJ’s career.
Michael Jordan was the face of the NBA when Scottie Pippen joined him in Chicago in 1987. Jordan was a one man wrecking crew, but the talent around him was lacking. MJ did not trust his teammates, and it hurt the Bulls success as an organization. Pippen showed signs of being the kind of partner Jordan needed. Pippen could score, handle the ball, and was a tremendous defensive talent. He took a lot of the pressure off Jordan and helped him become a better player. Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen might be the greatest one-two punch in NBA history.
Phil Jackson was named the Head Coach of the Chicago Bulls in 1989. Phil Jackson put emphasis on the team. He wanted everyone to be involved in the game. Pippen was an excellent facilitator and seemed more comfortable involving others rather than scoring on his own. Jordan’s acceptance of Jackson’s philosophy, and Pippen’s role, helped the Bulls become a legitimate contender.
1990-1991 NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls vs Los Angeles Lakers
When the Bulls faced the Los Angeles Lakers in their first Finals appearance, nobody gave them much of a chance to defeat Magic Johnson and his squad. Magic had already won 5 championships when he matched up against the Bulls in 1991. The Lakers had experience on their side, and many felt that would be the difference maker in the series. Jordan and the Bulls were able to rise the occasion and defeat the Lakers 4 games to 1. Not many would ever doubt the Bulls again after that defining series.
1991-1992 NBA Finals : Chicago Bulls vs Portland Trailblazers
The Bulls dominated the regular season during the 1991-1992 campaign. The championship they earned the previous season seemed to fuel their confidence and make them unbeatable. Michael Jordan’s first title showed the world he was more than just an individual talent—he was also capable of making everyone around him better. Chicago would defeat the Blazers for back to back championships. The Bulls were becoming a dynasty.
1992-1993 NBA Finals : Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns
After winning two championships in a row, Charles Barkley and his Phoenix Suns were the Bulls next opponent in the Finals. The matchup between Jordan and his good friend Barkley was something the world was excited to see. As always, MJ did not disappoint, and the series was a thrilling one from start to finish. Only 2 teams prior to the 1992-1993 squad accomplished the “three-peat.” Chicago defied the odds and won 3 titles in 3 years when they beat the Suns in the 1993 finals.
1995-1996 NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls vs Seattle Supersonics
Michael Jordan’s retirement and foray into baseball postponed his next Finals appearance until 1996. When the Bulls returned to the NBA’s biggest stage, they had to take on the young and motivated Seattle Supersonics. The Shawn Kemp & Gary Payton led Sonics were a worthy opponent, but in the end, MJ was able to lead Chicago to victory. The Bulls won 72 games during that 1995-1996 campaign and winning the series versus Seattle cemented that team as one of the best of all time.
1996-1997 NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz
Their 1996 championship got Chicago back on track after Jordan’s short retirement. His efforts in 95-96 verified Michael Jordan was back and better than ever. In pursuit of their 5th ring, the Bulls had to face off against John Stockton, Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz. Michael Jordan and the Bulls were able to best the hungry Hall of Fame duo and win the series 4 games to 2 in the 1997 Finals. The Bulls were now being looked at as one of the best teams of all time.
1997-1998 NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz
The 97-98 season was widely believed to be the last time the Chicago Bulls core unit would play together. It was there “Last Dance.” Michael Jordan and his teammates made the most of what proved to be their final run together. For the second straight year they defeated the Utah Jazz in the 1998 finals. Following that championship Michael Jordan retired for the second time with 6 titles in 8 years on his resume.
Next to the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, the two most successful franchises in the history of the NBA, the Bulls have the most championships in league history. What is rare about the Bulls titles, is all of them came during the 1990s with Jordan, Pippen and Phil Jackson as the mainstays. That 90s Bulls era is one of a kind.
- Adam C. Better
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