Even though Michael Jordan showed his willingness to continue with the Chicago Bulls, not everybody was on the same page as him, especially the team’s owner Jerry Reinsdorf. After winning their sixth title in 8 years, Reinsdorf believed it was complicated to keep the Bulls’ core together beyond the 1997/98 season. But, for Michael, everybody would make the sacrifices to keep their dominance in the league.
“It was maddening. Because I felt like we could’ve won seven… I really believe that,” MJ said about retiring in the middle of his peak, with the Bulls dominating the NBA.
Reinsdorf explained that it would’ve been hard to keep the team together given the boost some players, especially Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman got in their market value after the great seasons they had in Chicago. Jordan reacted to that saying he was willing to make things work if that meant they had another chance to win the NBA title. In the end, it wasn’t like they had a lot of competition in the league.
“In ’98, Krause already said at the beginning of the season Phil could go 82-0 and he was never going to be the coach,” Jordan said, as transcribed by UPROXX. “When Phil said it was the last dance, it was the last dance. we knew they weren’t going to keep the team. Now, they could’ve nixed all of it at the beginning of ’98. Why say that statement at the beginning of ’98? If you asked all the guys who won in ’98, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, blah blah blah, we give you a one-year contract to try for seven, do you think they would’ve signed? Yes they would’ve signed. Would I have signed for one year? Yes I would’ve signed for one year. I’ve been signing one-year contracts up to that. Would Phil have done it? Yes. Now Pip, you would’ve had to have some convincing, but if Phil was gonna be there, if Dennis was gonna be there, if MJ was gonna be there to win our seventh? Pip wasn’t going to miss out on that.”
Jordan made it clear that as long as they kept winning, they should have had another shot to try to defend their title. Still, we’ll never know what would have happened with that team. The 1998/99 season saw the San Antonio Spurs become NBA champions for the first time ever after they beat the New York Knicks in 5 games.
MJ believed Chicago could have added another Larry O’Brien trophy had they stayed together, but that never happened.