1996–97 Chicago Bulls season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Bulls' 31st season in the National Basketball Association. The Bulls entered the season as defending NBA champions, having defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 NBA Finals in six games, winning their fourth NBA championship. During the offseason, the Bulls signed free agent Robert Parish, who won championships with the Boston Celtics in the 1980s. Coming off of one of the greatest seasons in NBA history, The Bulls, on the backs of recording another first-place finish in their division and conference, repeated as NBA champions. The Bulls were led by Michael Jordan, perennial All-Star small forward Scottie Pippen, and rebound ace Dennis Rodman, with the former two (Jordan and Pippen) both being selected for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. Other notable players on the club's roster that year were clutch-specialist Croatian Toni Kukoč, and sharp-shooting point guard Steve Kerr.
|1996–97 Chicago Bulls season|
|Head coach||Phil Jackson|
|Place||Division: 1st (Central)|
Conference: 1st (Eastern)
|Playoff finish||NBA Champions|
(Defeated Jazz 4–2)
The Bulls got off to a fast start winning their first twelve games, while posting a 42–6 record before the All-Star break. During the final month of the regular season, the team signed free agent Brian Williams, who played in the final nine games. Though, the Bulls look to make history against the New York Knicks in their final regular season game of the year, Pippen missed a game-winning 3 and they finished with a 69–13 record, just missing out on becoming the first team in NBA history to have back-to-back 70 wins seasons. Jordan led the league in scoring once again averaging 29.6 points per game.
In the playoffs, the Bulls would sweep the Washington Bullets in three straight games in the first round. In the semifinals, they defeated the Atlanta Hawks in five games, despite losing Game 2 at the United Center 103–95. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they defeated the Miami Heat in five games to advance to the NBA Finals, where they defeated the Utah Jazz in six games for their fifth title in seven years. Following the season, Parish retired, and Williams signed as a free agent with the Detroit Pistons.
|1||29||Travis Knight||C||United States||UConn|
Chicago Bulls roster
|3||x-New York Knicks||57||25||.695||12|
|13||New Jersey Nets||26||56||.317||43|
Record vs. opponentsEdit
|1996–97 NBA records|
|1997 playoff game log|
Total: 15–4 (Home: 10–1; Road: 5–3)
First Round: 3–0 (Home: 2–0; Road: 1–0)
Conference Semifinals : 4–1 (Home: 2–1; Road: 2–0)
Conference Finals : 4–1 (Home: 3–0; Road: 1–1)
NBA Finals : 4–2 (Home: 3–0; Road: 1–2)
East First RoundEdit
|1||April 25||Chicago||98||Washington||86||1-0||United Center, Chicago||1||TNT|
|2||April 27||Chicago||109||Washington||104||2-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||2||NBC|
|3||April 30||Washington||95||Chicago||96||3-0||US Airways Arena, Landover, Maryland||3||TNT|
|Chicago wins series 3–0|
East Conference SemifinalsEdit
|1||May 6||Chicago||100||Atlanta||97||1-0||United Center, Chicago||1||TNT|
|2||May 8||Chicago||95||Atlanta||103||1-1||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||2||TNT|
|3||May 10||Atlanta||80||Chicago||100||2-1||Omni Coliseum, Atlanta||3||NBC|
|4||May 11||Atlanta||80||Chicago||89||3-1||Omni Coliseum, Atlanta, Georgia||4||NBC|
|5||May 13||Chicago||107||Atlanta||92||4-1||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||5||TNT|
|Chicago wins series 4–1|
East Conference FinalsEdit
|1||May 20||Chicago||84||Miami||77||1-0||United Center, Chicago||1||TNT|
|2||May 22||Chicago||75||Miami||68||2-0||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||2||TNT|
|3||May 24||Miami||74||Chicago||98||3-0||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||3||NBC|
|4||May 26||Miami||87||Chicago||80||3-1||Miami Arena, Miami, Florida||4||NBC|
|5||May 28||Chicago||100||Miami||87||4-1||United Center, Chicago, Illinois||5||NBC|
|Chicago wins series 4–1|
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
- Game 1 – June 1, Sunday @Chicago, Chicago 84, Utah 82: Chicago leads series 1-0
- Game 2 – June 4, Wednesday @Chicago, Chicago 97, Utah 85: Chicago leads series 2-0
- Game 3 – June 6, Friday @Utah, Utah 104, Chicago 93: Chicago leads series 2-1
- Game 4 – June 8, Sunday @Utah, Utah 78, Chicago 73: Series tied 2-2
- Game 5 – June 11, Wednesday @Utah, Chicago 90, Utah 88: Chicago leads series 3-2
- Game 6 – June 13, Friday @Chicago, Chicago 90, Utah 86: Chicago wins series 4-2
The Finals were played using a 2-3-2 site format, where the first two and last two games are held at the team with home court advantage's (Chicago's) home court (United Center).
Sunday, June 1, at the United Center
Wednesday, June 4, at the United Center
Friday, June 6, at the Delta Center
Sunday, June 8, at the Delta Center
Game 5: The Flu GameEdit
Wednesday, June 11, at the Delta Center
Game 5, often referred to as "The Flu Game", was one of Michael Jordan's most memorable. Just 24 hours earlier, on June 10, 1997, Michael Jordan woke up nauseated and sweating profusely. He hardly had the strength to sit up in bed and was diagnosed with a stomach virus or food poisoning. The Bulls trainers told Jordan that there was no way he could play in the game. The Jazz had just won two in a row to tie the series, and Chicago needed their leader in this critical swing game. Against all odds, Jordan rose from bed at 3:00 p.m., just in time for the 6:00 tip-off at the Delta Center.
Jordan was visibly weak and pale as he stepped onto the court for Game Five. At first, he displayed no energy whatsoever, and John Stockton, along with reigning MVP Karl Malone, quickly led the Jazz to a 16-point lead. But in the second quarter, Jordan started to sink shots despite lacking his usual explosive speed and hardly being able to concentrate. He scored 17 points in the quarter as the Bulls hit the front before halftime.
Luc Longley and Scottie Pippen did their best to keep the Bulls in the game while Jordan was fatigued again in the third. But Jordan turned it on again, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, including a clutch rebound and three-point shot with the game tied and under a minute left that put the Bulls up by three points. Chicago held on for a narrow victory.
Jordan finished the game with 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block. Malone was the highest-scoring Jazz player with 19 points but suffered from some dreadful shooting. Jordan stayed on the court for 44 minutes, resting for only four minutes while being perpetually at the brink of fainting. With only a few seconds remaining and the game finally at hand, Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen's arms.
Friday, June 13, at the United Center
Michael Jordan was not fully recovered from the flu, but was feeling much better and led the Bulls with 39 points. In the third quarter Michael Jordan dunked after a steal, bringing the crowd to its feet. The Bulls trailed by 9 points early in the fourth quarter but went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes when Steve Kerr hit a 3-pointer, but the Jazz would regain the lead. In the final minutes, Jordan's fadeaway on the baseline put the Bulls up by 3, before Bryon Russell hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 86-86. The two teams would fail to score on their next possessions. With 28 seconds left after Shandon Anderson missed a reverse layup, the Jazz expected Jordan to take the final shot. Instead, Jordan passed off to Steve Kerr, who hit a shot with 5 seconds left to send the United Center crowd into a frenzy. The Jazz looked for one final shot to stay alive, but Scottie Pippen made a massive defensive play as he knocked away Bryon Russell's inbound pass intended for Shandon Anderson and was able to pass the ball over to Toni Kukoč, who dunked the final 2 points of the game to bring the Finals to an end. Afterwards, Jordan was named the NBA Finals MVP.
Awards and honorsEdit
- Scottie Pippen, Forward, NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
- Michael Jordan, Guard, NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
- Robert Parish, Center, NBA's 50th Anniversary All-Time Team
- Michael Jordan, All-NBA Team, First Team
- Michael Jordan, Guard, NBA Finals MVP
- Michael Jordan, NBA All-Defensive First Team
- Michael Jordan, Regular season leader, Field Goals (920)
- Michael Jordan, Regular season leader, Field Goal Attempts (1892)
- Michael Jordan, Regular season leader, Total Points (2431)
- Michael Jordan, Regular season leader, Scoring Average (29.6 points per game)
- "1996-97 Chicago Bulls Roster and Stats - Basketball-Reference.com".
- "Knicks Shock the Bulls to Sew Up Third Spot". New York Times. April 20, 1996. Retrieved July 21, 2017.
- "Ex-Celtic Parish Ends His Career After 21 Years". Los Angeles Times. September 7, 1997. Retrieved July 21, 2017.