It has been a tough 20 years for the Bulls. In the twenty-three seasons since Michael Jordan retired for his second time, they have made the playoffs in only eleven of those years, with the team never making it past the Eastern Conference Finals. The team did not always fall short like this.
How many championships have the Chicago Bulls won? The Bulls have six championships, all won within the same decade. They were dominant throughout the 1990s, creating one of the greatest dynasties of all time.
The Bulls haven’t seen much success outside of the 1990s, but their dynasty was powered by one man really, Michael Jefferey Jordan. Jordan was instrumental in the Bulls six championships, and the Bulls have struggled since, with no player coming close to having the impact he did on the franchise.
How did the Bulls win their championships?
Through the 1990s they were the dominant team in the NBA, making the playoffs 14 years in a row from 1985 to 1998. Their path to success really began in 1984, when with the third pick in the draft, they took UNC star Michael Jordan. It was unsurprising that after drafting arguably the greatest player of all time, the Bulls’ run of making the playoffs began in his rookie year. Jordans right hand man Scottie Pippen was added in the 1987 draft. Phil Jackson also joined the team in 1987, before taking over as head coach in 1989. Bulls general manager at the time Jerry Krause also did well to surround Jordan and Pippen with some excellent role players. Adding Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen in the same draft of 1987 was massively important to the Bulls championships. Big center Bill Cartwright was acquired a year later in a trade, giving the Bulls the starting line-up required to win in the NBA. They had two of their starters for the future in Jordan and Paxson before Jerry Krause joined, and he drafted and dealt well to produce a squad worthy of winning multiple titles.
The team’s breakthrough came in the 1990-1991 season, where they secured the number 1 in the east, winning 61 games in the process, led by MVP Michael Jordan. The Bulls then took the playoffs by storm, sweeping the Knicks and the “bad boy” Pistons on the way to the final. In those finals, they met an ageing Lakers squad and dominated the series despite losing the first game. They went on to win the next four and claim their first title, Michael Jordan won his first finals MVP, averaging 31 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds, shooting a monster 56%. 1992 was more of the same for the Bulls, Jordan won his second finals and regular season MVP as the Bulls won their second title, while also setting a regular season record, winning 67 games, a record only bested by the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors team. Unlike that Warriors team, they beat Cleveland on their way to beating the Trail Blazers in the finals in six games. Jordan bested Clyde Drexler and won finals MVP after averaging 36 points a game. 1993 saw a new team dethrone the Bulls in the regular season, the New York Knicks led by Patrick Ewing and John Starks. The Knicks won 60 games, 3 more than the Bulls. The two teams ended up meeting in the Eastern Conference finals, with the Bulls running away with the series in six games. Jordan and Pippen had both played in the dream team in the 1992 Olympics. The pair played phenomenally throughout the finals, with Jordan averaging an insane 41 points per game, the finals record still held today. However, it was a different player who scored the game-winning shot in game 6, with John Paxson writing his name into Bulls history, with a game-winning three with 3.9 seconds remaining.
Having shocked the world with his retirement in 1993 and move to Baseball, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995, saying simply “I’m back”. They were able to return to the top of the NBA a year later, boosted by the addition of rebounding monster and friend of Kim Jong Un, Dennis Rodman. The Bulls finished their 1995-1996 season with the second-best regular-season record of all time at 72-10. They went the entire playoffs only losing three games and Jordan won his fourth finals MVP as the Bulls beat Gary Payton and the Seattle Supersonics to their fourth NBA title. The Bulls followed that up by winning 69 games the next year and breezed their way through the playoffs once again to meet a new opponent, the Utah Jazz, lead by all-stars Karl Malone and John Stockton. Neither team could gain the advantage over the first four games, with both teams winning their home games. Game 5 went down in history as one of the greatest performances of all time in any sports. “The Flu Game” is undoubtedly, one of the greatest individual performances we have ever seen. The night before the game, Michael Jordan woke up at 2am, complaining of a huge amount of weakness in his body and uncontrollable sweating. He was lethargic throughout the first half, with the Jazz racing to a 16 point lead. Jordan went off, scoring 38 points as the Bulls overcame everything to beat the Jazz by 2, with big thanks to a clutch three from Jordan with 25 seconds remaining.
The Bulls would go on to win in game six, thanks to Jordan passing it to teammate and future Warriors coach Steve Kerr, who hit a huge three with 5 seconds left to win the game and the series. The Bulls would once again be the number 1 seed coming out of the east, and for one of the few times throughout their dynasty, struggled slightly to get to the finals. Reggie Miller helped to take the Bulls to a game seven where the Bulls ended up winning. They once again met the Utah Jazz and once again Michael Jordan played outstanding, scoring 45 points in the deciding game six, including his last shot playing for the Bulls being a 20 footer over Bryon Russell to seal the win. The Bulls got their second three-peat, and Jordan once again retired at the top of the NBA.