The 1996/1997 Chicago Bulls could arguably be the greatest team to ever play. Compiling a record of 69 wins versus 13 losses, close to the record setting 72 wins in 1995/1996.
The team averaged 103.1 points per game, first in the NBA and they dominated at the United Center with 39 wins against only two losses. They beat the Washington Bullets in the first round, Atlanta Hawks in the second round, Miami Heat in the conference finals and the Utah Jazz four games to two in the championship series. When you evaluate the roster it is no shock this team was so powerful.
The team, led by the greatest player of all time Michael Jordan also had Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, Steve Kerr, Jason Caffery, Luc Longley, Ron Harper, Randy Brown, Dennis Rodman, Bill Wennington, Robert Parrish, Jud Beuchler Dickey Simpson, Bison Dele and Matt Steigenga.
Yes, there are names that have been forgotten by history but the top names will be immortalized. Despite the fabulous record, defending the title wasn’t easy for this Bulls team. Led by Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the Bulls were able to win the Central Division by 13 games over the Atlanta Hawks. Jordan made more NBA history along the way, becoming the first player in league history to record a triple-double at the All-Star Game (14 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists).
Teammate Steve Kerr reigned on All-Star Saturday as the winner of the AT&T Shootout. Jordan led the league in scoring (29.6 ppg) and set an NBA record with 2,000 points for the 10th time in his career. Despite that late losing streak, the Bulls were prepared for the playoff run.
They held off a pesky Washington Bullets team to record a first-round sweep, and then disposed of the Atlanta Hawks and the Miami Heat in five games apiece, setting up the series with the Jazz.
In the NBA Finals, Jordan was in the spot light once again. He won Game 1 with a buzzer-beater, then posted 38 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists to give the Bulls a 2-0 series lead.
After the Jazz won twice at home to tie the series at 2-2, Jordan added another performance to his legacy; playing with a stomach virus, Jordan poured in 38 points, including a three-pointer in the final minute to give the Bulls a 90-88 win in Game 5. He added 39 more points in the Game 6 clincher and fed Kerr for the game-winning shot with only five seconds to play. For the fifth time in five championship seasons, Jordan was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player.
At season’s end, Jordan and coach Phil Jackson signed new one-year contracts, providing the Bulls an opportunity to ‘three-peat’ for the second time in the decade. This team was a highlight reel every night. Any team the has Michael Jordan is going to score tons of points. The 1996/1997 Bulls scored at a prolific pace.
In the fifth year of playing Tex Winter’s triangle offense the Bulls were unstoppable. But more important than offense was the defense led by Michael Jordan and the rebounding by Dennis Rodman. They held the opponents to a 6th best 92.1 pts per games.
Michael Jordan was named to the 1st Team All Defensive Team for the eighth time and Rodman was the rebounding champion and also named to the 1st Team All Defensive Team. They could score, defend and rebound; they were the greatest team in NBA history.