Very few NBA franchises have been able to match the run as dominant as the Bulls’ in the 1990s. Six NBA Championships over the span of 8 years, a 72-win season, and a perfect 6-0 record in the Finals.
With success like that, it’s a wonder why they never stuck around longer to win more. What ended the Bulls’ historic run? The easy answer is MJ’s retirement in 1999 — but in a recent interview from Scottie with Bleacher Report, he revealed it was money that truly tore their team apart.
“Me and Mike and Scottie have so much love for each other now because we’re not haters with each other. We embrace the fact that we had a chance to play with each other. We’re friends. We’re not calling each other every day and hanging out, but when we see each other, we share the love. Like, ‘Hey, appreciate you, man. I’ve got your back.’ Stuff like that. That’s how we love each other now.
We embrace it because we put the NBA back on the map in the ’90s. Me and Mike and Scottie revolutionized the game. The way everyone plays now, that’s how we played then. And now all of a sudden everyone’s talking about Big Threes. Now? Really? We were the Big Three. We were the main three. We consistently won, we consistently won championships. And the only reason we didn’t repeat four in a row is because Mike said, ‘I want X millions of dollars.’ And they didn’t want to pay him, so he left, I left, Scottie left and Phil Jackson left. We were all waiting on Michael. That’s how the run ended.”
Michael would later return to the NBA and play for the Wizards from 2001-2003 at the ripe age of 38 years-old. Obviously, things were not the same. Michael was not the same, and the Wizards were unable to replicate anything close to the success of the Bulls.
If he could return and averaged over 22 points per game at almost 40, it’s hard not to think he could have been at superstar form a season after his retirement at 35. For whatever reason, Chicago wasn’t willing to pay Mike what he thought he was worth, and he quite because of it.
Now we’re left to think about what could have been had they ran it back just one more year.