We all know that once NBA playoff time rolled around, Michael Jordan was on another level with the Chicago Bulls, as his dominance helped them win six NBA championships throughout his career. However, not many people are aware of how hard it actually was to face the Bulls in the postseason.
Recently, though, their playoff dominance was summed up perfectly by one of their former foes: Rex Chapman.
Rex Chapman had a successful NBA career
After going to the Charlotte Hornets with the No. 8 overall pick in the 1988 NBA draft, Chapman had a decent amount of success in the NBA. He earned All-Rookie honors in 1988-89 and eventually averaged 14.6 points per game over the course of his 12-year career. His best season, though, probably came in 1993-94 with the Washington Bullets. He averaged 18.2 points per game that season to go with 3.1 assists.
The former Kentucky star also had some success against Jordan and the Bulls throughout his years in the league. His 39 points against them in a 1996 game while playing for the Miami Heat gave the Bulls one of their only 10 losses that year. Chapman ultimately outscored Jordan in the game and made nine-of-ten 3-point attempts.
However, later that season, Chapman quickly found out that facing Jordan and the Bulls in the playoffs was much different than playing against them in the regular season.
Michael Jordan and the Bulls were dominant in the playoffs
Chapman had never played in the postseason until that 1995-96 campaign, which was his eighth year in the league. He and the Heat ultimately faced Jordan and the Bulls in the Eastern Conference first round that year, and saw a much different result than when they faced them in the regular season. Chicago swept Miami 3-0 and Jordan averaged 30 points throughout that series while the Bulls held Chapman to 9.0 points per game. Chicago also won each game by double digits and even won Game 2 by 31 points.
“I had played against those guys for six or seven years and had some success here and there,” Chapman said on the May 28 episode of The Rich Eisen Show. “… I wasn’t on very good teams. They didn’t have to be engaged to beat my teams; we weren’t playing them in the playoffs. But when I saw those guys in the playoffs and saw how engaged they were, it gave me a way better appreciation for the teams that were really doing battle with those guys; the Knicks and those teams from back in Detroit.”
Chapman then used one word to perfectly describe just how dominant Jordan and the Bulls were in the postseason: unbeatable.
“Michael and Scottie and that squad were so damn good. When they were engaged, they were damn near unbeatable,” Chapman said.
He didn’t battle against Chicago in the playoffs nearly as much as other players did during those years, but Chapman was right — Jordan and the Bulls were nearly unbeatable in the postseason.
Michael Jordan won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan and the Bulls ended up winning one of their six NBA championships that year, as they beat the Seattle SuperSonics 4-2 in the NBA Finals. It was ultimately their first of three straight titles from 1995-96 through 1997-98.
Overall, Jordan led the Bulls to two separate three-peats during his time in Chicago, and put up some massive numbers during those playoff runs. He averaged no fewer than 30.7 and as many as 35.1 points per game, which helped him win six Finals MVP awards.
Jordan was as dominant a player as anyone in the playoffs throughout his career, and the Bulls were one of the greatest teams of all-time. Chapman didn’t play in too many postseason games against them, but he saw first-hand just how great the Bulls were once the playoffs rolled around; they were unbeatable.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference