One of the reasons Jordan and Pippen were dominant was they could take over games offensively and defensively. However, former NBA star Kendall Gill believes another factor contributed to the Bulls’ success in the ’90s.
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were given the benefit of the doubt by refs
Gill told Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein that Jordan and Pippen routinely got away with blatant fouls on defense and were given the benefit of the doubt on offense by refs.
“I can remember playing him (Jordan) in ‘98, and they were blatantly fouling, but the ref would not call it,” Gill said. “They’d have to call the obvious ones, but they would not call the ones inside. I was fouled by Michael several times, I was fouled by Scottie several times, I was fouled by Dennis (Rodman) several times — no calls whatsoever. But if you sneeze anywhere near Michael or Scottie, there’s going to be a foul on. The NBA knew where the bread was buttered. They weren’t cheating, but we knew they were given the benefit of the doubt.”
Behind Jordan and Pippen, the Bulls defeated Gill and the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the 1998 playoffs in three games. From 1991 to 1998, Chicago only lost one playoff series in which MJ and Pip played together, and Gill wasn’t surprised.
Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen were almost impossible to beat in a seven-game series
The Bulls only lost four playoff series during the Jordan-Pippen era. Once they finally got past the Detroit Pistons in 1991, Chicago three-peated twice and became one of the best dynasties in sports history.
Gill told Silverstein that the Bulls were almost impossible to beat in the postseason since they not only had Jordan and Pippen, but they also sort of had the refs on their side.
“Not only are you playing against two of the greatest players of all time, one perhaps the greatest, between him and Kareem Abdul Jabbar — but Scottie’s top 50 — then you throw in the greatest offense the game has ever seen, then you throw City Hall in there,” Gill said. “We know you can’t beat City Hall, right? We always knew that to beat the Bulls — I’m a boxer, so I use a fight analogy — you had to knock them out twice to get a draw. That’s how hard it was to beat them. It was almost impossible to beat those guys in a seven-game series.”
The lone playoff series Jordan and Pippen lost together during the dynasty years was the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Orlando Magic. The Bulls lost in six games, and Jordan was devastated his comeback from baseball didn’t result in a title.
Fortunately for Chicago fans, Jordan and Pippen came back with a vengeance in 1995-96 and reclaimed their stranglehold on the NBA.
Bulls won 72 games in 1995-96
The Bulls went a remarkable 72-10 in 1995-96. The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors broke Chicago’s record by going 73-9. However, they lost the 2016 Finals to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Meanwhile, the 1995-96 Bulls took care of business by defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in the 1996 Finals to cap off their magical season.
Jordan had a record of 119-60 in the playoffs with the Bulls. He’s the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game and player efficiency rating in both the regular season and postseason.
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