Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominated an entire decade of basketball. Winning six titles in a span of eight years, their greatness has yet to be matched in today’s NBA.
In that span, however, Michael Jordan retired from the game for two seasons before eventually making his comeback and winning three more titles from 1996-1998.
With the world reflecting on Jordan and the 90s Bulls, many have posed the question: what if MJ hadn’t retired for those two seasons? Could they have won eight straight Championships?
7-time NBA champ Robert Horry claims that answer is no.
Let’s do some digging. In the two years between the Bulls three-peats, it was the Houston Rockets who won both titles, beating the Knicks in 1994 (in seven games) and then the Orlando Magic in 1995 (a clean 4-0 sweep).
Had Jordan stayed, his Bulls would have been pitted up against Hakeem — one of the few players who actually routinely got the better of MJ. Out of 23 matchups, Olajuwon won 13 of them. It’s also important to remember that the Bulls were showing signs of weakness during their third title run. It was MJ’s retirement that allowed them to reset and reshape their roster in their first place.
So there’s reason to believe that the Rockets would’ve fared pretty well against the Bulls, but we’ll never know. By the time Jordan returned, the roster was better than ever and Houston was never able to make it to another Finals.
While it’s easy to give the benefit of the doubt to the Bulls, Steve Kerr himself (who played with the team) said it’s ridiculous to think they would’ve won eight straight.
“Sometimes people say to me, ‘If Michael had stayed, you guys would’ve won eight in a row.’ That’s the most preposterous thing I have ever heard. People have no idea how emotionally draining it is for a team to keep winning,” Kerr told David Aldridge and Michael Lee of the Athletic.
It’s hard to argue with that. In all of NBA history, only three teams have ever won three-straight titles and it’s only ever been done five total times. There’s a reason for that.
In the end, it’s easy to just assume that Jordan alone would have been enough to get the Bulls eight-straight. But if we look to history, and the testimony of former players, we might discover that not even MJ could’ve pulled that one off.