Most basketball fans know that Michael Jordan won six championships with the Chicago Bulls in the ’90s and went 6-0 in the Finals. His Airness three-peated twice and won all six Finals MVPs for the Bulls.
While it took seven years for Jordan to win his first championship, he never looked back once he got to the top of the mountain. Hall of Famer Maurice Cheeks, a one-time champion and Chicago native, knew a lot about Jordan during his playing career since he watched the superstar from afar. However, he admitted in 2020 that he never expected the Bulls to win six rings during the MJ era.
Maurice Cheeks on Michael Jordan winning six rings: I don’t know if anybody ever thought that
Cheeks understood Jordan was a brilliant player and intense competitor. However, he told Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman in May 2020 that he didn’t expect the UNC product to lead the Bulls to six championships.
“You knew at some point they were going to be good because Jordan was that good,” Cheeks said. “Six championships? I don’t know if anybody ever thought that.”
Cheeks only faced Jordan once in the playoffs during his career. It came in 1991 when the Bulls and New York Knicks met in the first round. Chicago swept New York, with Jordan averaging 29.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.0 assists and Cheeks putting up 10.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game.
Jordan and Cheeks never had a close relationship despite the two being on three All-Star teams together. However, the latter will never forget how competitive the former was.
Maurice Cheeks on Michael Jordan’s competitive drive: He was on a whole different level
Like most of the sports world, Cheeks watched The Last Dance docuseries during the summer of 2020. The four-time All-Star believes Jordan’s competitive nature was on another level.
“I don’t think people that played against him and watching this realize the level of competitor he was,” Cheeks said. “When you’re watching this, you can see it. But when you’re playing, maybe somebody playing against him could see it, but I don’t know. He was on a whole different level than most people are used to.”
Jordan’s mentality was to win at any cost. He took every challenge personally and never shied away from confronting his teammates when he felt they weren’t giving it their all like he was.
His leadership style certainly wasn’t loved by everyone on the Bulls since Jordan ridiculed teammates and crossed the line several times. However, the results show that it worked.
Bulls won six titles in eight-year span
The Bulls won their first three titles in 1991, 1992, and 1993 and their final three in 1996, 1997, and 1998. Several people in Chicago believe Jordan could have won eight championships in a row had he not retired in 1993 and played baseball.
In 35 career Finals games, Jordan averaged 33.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists. He only trailed a series twice and never had to play in a Game 7. Once he figured out how to beat a team, the Bulls basically became unbeatable.
Winning six rings in any sport is an incredible achievement. However, never losing in the championship round is a feat Jordan should take tremendous pride in since it’s nearly impossible to do and may not be matched by another player in NBA history moving forward.