- Michael Jordan says the Chicago Bulls could have won a seventh title had the team stuck together for one more season.
- In the final moments of “The Last Dance,” Jordan addressed the team’s decision to head into a rebuild, arguing that the core of the team would have come back on one-year contracts if given the opportunity.
- “It’s maddening because I felt like we could have won seven,” Jordan said. “I really believe that. We may not have, but man, just not to be able to try, that’s just something that I can’t accept, for whatever reason. I just can’t accept it.”
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Michael Jordan believes the Chicago Bulls should have run it back for one more season.
In the final moments of “The Last Dance,” ESPN’s docuseries covering the Jordan era Bulls through the lens of their sixth championship run in 1998, Jordan said it was “maddening” that the team didn’t stick together for one more season.
At the start of the season, Bulls general manager Jerry Kraus had made clear he was ready to head into a rebuild at the end of the year, the thinking being that it would be too expensive to keep the team together for another year.
“In ’98 Kraus, already said at the beginning of the season, Phil could go 82-0, and he was never going to be the coach,” Jordan said. “So when Phil said it was the last dance, it was the last dance – we knew they wasn’t going to keep the team. Now they could have nixed all of it at the beginning of ’98. Why say that at the beginning of ’98?”
After the Bulls won their sixth title in eight seasons, the Bulls stuck to the plan and blew it up, with Jordan retiring for a second time, head coach Phil Jackson leaving the team and surrounding stars Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, and Steve Kerr all leaving for new beginnings.
But Jordan believes it didn’t have to be that way.
“If you asked all the guys who won in 98 … ‘We give you one year contract to try for the seventh,’ you think they would have signed? Yes, they would have signed,” Jordan said.
“Would I sign for one year? Yes, I would sign for one year. I had been signing one year up to that. Would Phil have done it? Yes. Now Pip, you would have had to do some convincing. But if Phil was going to be there. If Dennis was going to be there. If MJ was going to be there to win our seventh, Pip was not going to miss out on that.”
Jordan said that letting go at that point was especially maddening, as he felt he was at the height of his powers.
“In ’91 and ’92 I was young, full of energy, hungry,” Jordan said. “In ’98, when we won six out of eight, and yet still being just as dominant as we were in ’91, that’s where the craftsmanship came in. I think ’98 was much better than any of the other years because of how I was able to use my mind as well as my body.”
“It’s maddening because I felt like we could have won seven,” Jordan said. “I really believe that. We may not have, but man, just not to be able to try, that’s just something that I can’t accept, for whatever reason. I just can’t accept it.”
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