The 1997-98 Chicago Bulls became an instant classic among NBA fans all over the world. They featured Michael Jordan for the last time before his second retirement, but also legends of the game like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.
That team beat the odds, overcame the off-court issues between Phil Jackson and Jerry Krause and the media pressure on their stars. They all knew that it was going to be their final year together, but they put everything aside, competed, and got the job done.
However, the Bulls roster looked quite different just a couple of months after winning their second three-peat. Krause was eager to kickstart a rebuilding process and he knew most of his players were going to demand a lot of money that season, so he made plenty of moves.
So, what happened to those guys who beat the Utah Jazz in the Finals? Let’s take a look at where the 1997-98 Bulls played just a year after winning the Championship:
Dickey Simpkins – Stayed with the Bulls
Dickey Simpkins’ NBA journey took a couple of turns. He was first drafted by the Bulls in 1994, then traded to the Warriors for Scott Burrell, but Golden State waived him midseason and he returned that very same year to Chicago, something the league doesn’t allow anymore.
Simpkins’ contributions to the title run were modest, to say the least, but they still kept him until the 1999-20 season. He was then signed and waived by the Sonics, Lakers, and Hawks before retiring in 2002.
Randy Brown – Stayed with the Bulls
Just like Simpkins, Brown wasn’t exactly the Bulls’ biggest contributor in the playoffs, although he did play over 14 minutes off the bench during their three-peat run. That number bumped to 29 minutes during their first rebuilding year.
Brown stayed with the team until the end of the 1999-00 season, then joining the Boston Celtics for two years before retiring as a member of the Phoenix Suns. He never averaged more than 8.8 points per game on his career.
Bill Wennington – Stayed with the Bulls
Bill Wennington was one of the first guys off the bench for Phil Jackson and the Chicago Bulls during their second three-peat. His contributions were far beyond the stat sheet, as he was more of a locker-room veteran presence kind of guy.
Wennington and his team-friendly deal stayed with Jerry Krause and the Bulls for another season. He made 38 appearances (3 starts) with the team before joining the Sacramento Kings for the final year of his career.
Jud Buechler – Detroit Pistons
Jud Buechler didn’t find many minutes during his stint with the Chicago Bulls, as he had Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc hogging most playing time at the small forward spot and Ron Harper and Steve Kerr at the two.
So, he decided to join the Bulls’ lifelong rivals Detroit Pistons the year after their three-peat. He’d stay with them for three seasons with averages of 3.6 points per game before playing for the Suns and finally the Magic.
Scott Burrell – New Jersey Nets
Most people got to know Scott Burrell during ‘The Last Dance’ as Michael Jordan’s favorite victim in practice, although he never seemed to care. It was clear that he needed a change of environment after the 1997-98 season.
Burrell joined the New Jersey Nets as a free agent in the summer and averaged 6.3 points per game over a two-season span with them. He then went full-circle and retired with the Charlotte Hornets, the team that drafted him in the first place.
Luc Longley – Phoenix Suns
Even though his name isn’t often mentioned, Luc Longley actually played a huge part in the Bulls three-peat, as he even started all 6 games of the NBA Finals ahead of Dennis Rodman, as he was a better matchup due to his offensive skills.
Longley didn’t hesitate to leave the team as he didn’t want to be a part of a rebuilding process towards the final passage of his career. He was traded to the Suns and stayed there for a couple of seasons before being waived by the Knicks on his final year.
Steve Kerr – San Antonio Spurs
Steve Kerr knew how to make the most of his talents and surround himself by elite company. That’s why he joined Gregg Popovich and the San Antonio Spurs via trade following their three-peat to keep on his Championship streak alive.
Kerr became the last player to ever win four straight Championships in NBA history. His hard work and three-point shooting were tailor-made for the Spurs system. He stayed with them for three seasons, played for the Blazers, and came back to the Spurs to win his 5th ring before retiring.
Ron Harper – Stayed with the Bulls
Ron Harper played a huge part in the Chicago Bulls’ final three Championships. He was a reckless defender that could guard multiple spots on the court and he didn’t hesitate to embrace a lesser role in the offense in order to help the team win.
Harper stayed with the Bulls for another season, although he only made 35 appearances with the team that year. He was later released by the team and reunited with Phil Jackson by joining the Lakers, where he won a couple of more rings.
Toni Kukoc -Stayed with the Bulls
Toni Kukoc made it to the league at 25-years old so obviously, he wasn’t that team-saving prospect they hoped him to be once Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman left the team. He was more of a savvy veteran that could score in bunches.
So, Krause decided to keep his favorite European player around for an extra year-and-a-half. He then bounced around the league for a little while, playing for the Philadelphia 76ers, Atlanta Hawks, and finally Milwaukee Bucks.
Dennis Rodman – Los Angeles Lakers
There were some concerns about Rodman’s capacity of playing at the highest level without the motivation of playing for a Championship and his teammates pushing him. Eventually, the time proved he was right about this one.
Rodman joined the Lakers for half of the lockdown season in 1998-99, but only made 23 appearances (11 starts) with the team. He was released at the end of the season and then he signed with the Dallas Mavericks but was waived shortly after.
Scottie Pippen – Houston Rockets
The Chicago Bulls finally did Scottie Pippen right and helped him out with a sign-and-trade to join the Houston Rockets on a very lucrative deal. The Rockets wanted to pair him with Charles Barkley and make the most of Jordan’s retirement again.
There was some bad blood between the two superstars and that experiment didn’t pay off. Pippen was traded to the Blazers a year later and he stayed there four years before coming back to retire as a Chicago Bull.
Michael Jordan – Retired
On an unsurprising note, Michael Jordan announced that he was leaving the game again. This time, he would never come back, at least to the Chicago Bulls. He stood off the grid for some time before joining the Wizards.
Jordan came back to the league as the Wizards’ president of basketball operations and claimed that he was 99.9% sure that he’d never play again. He decided to suit up in 2001 for his final two seasons.