The 1995-96 season was a legendary one for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The team not only won 72 games and defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in the ’96 NBA Finals, but Jordan also captured his fourth MVP and fourth Finals MVP and re-established himself as the best player in the world after losing to the Orlando Magic in the second round the previous year.
Jordan was an efficient scorer during his Hall of Fame career. He shot 49.7% from the field and is the NBA’s all-time leader in player efficiency rating. However, the five-time MVP did have one of the worst shooting nights of his career during a “special” game. Fortunately for Jordan, the ending turned out well.
Michael Jordan shot 26.3% in Game 6 of ’96 Finals
Jordan had an atrocious shooting night in Game 6 of the ’96 Finals. He shot 5-of-19 from the field, although he did hit 11-of-12 shots from the free-throw line. MJ also grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists. The Bulls defeated the SuperSonics by a final score of 87-75, but it was clear Jordan wasn’t at the top of his game offensively.
Gary Payton did a tremendous job guarding Jordan in Games 4-6. He limited the Bulls superstar to 36.7% shooting overall in the final three games. Payton’s defense took a toll on Jordan’s legs, which is probably why His Airness struggled with his jump shot in Game 6.
Fortunately for Jordan, his teammates stepped up while his shot was off. Scottie Pippen finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, and five assists, Luc Longley chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds, Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc produced 10 points each, and Dennis Rodman had nine points and 19 rebounds.
Along with being tired from Payton’s defense, Jordan may have also struggled with his jumper due to how emotional he was during Game 6.
Michael Jordan had his father on his mind
Jordan’s father was tragically murdered in the summer of 1993. MJ certainly had a lot of things on his mind as he tried to win his fourth title on Father’s Day in 1996, a goal he achieved. After beating the SuperSonics, Jordan ran into the Bulls locker room to cry and then spoke about how exceptional it was to win a championship on Father’s Day.
“Who would have ever written this season? Who could have predicted this? But things work in mysterious ways,” Jordan said in 1996. “I was blessed to be able to be healthy all season, to bring a championship back to the city of Chicago. It happened on Father’s Day, which made it even more special for me.”
James Jordan was basically Michael’s best friend. It was devastating for the 10-time scoring champion to lose his father, but he honored him in the best way possible by winning a ring on Father’s Day.
NBA legend never shot as poorly as he did in Game 6 of ’96 Finals in any other Finals game
Jordan averaged 33.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in 35 games in the Finals in his career while shooting 48.1% from the field. Game 6 of the ’96 Finals was the worst shooting game of his Finals career.
Payton’s defense and Jordan thinking about his late father certainly played a role in the poor shooting. However, the 14-time All-Star still found a way to score 22 points and lead the Bulls to victory.
Jordan not only went 6-0 in the Finals, but he also never played in a Game 7. We may never see another player accomplish both of those feats again.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.