Jordan prevented several All-Stars from winning titles under his watch, most notably Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and John Stockton. While Clyde Drexler and Gary Payton lost to the Bulls legend in the Finals, both Hall of Famers won a ring later in their careers.
The Bulls three-peated twice during the Jordan era and are one of the greatest dynasties in sports history. They won so much with MJ leading the way that a Hall of Famer questioned whether it was worth it to play and compete for a championship.
Michael Jordan faced a Hall of Famer in all six Finals he won
The Bulls defeated the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers, Phoenix Suns, Seattle SuperSonics, and Utah Jazz in the Finals during the ’90s. Jordan and Co. faced at least one Hall of Famer in every Finals they played in.
In the ’91 Finals versus the Lakers, Jordan got past Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Vlade Divac to capture his first championship. The Bulls won the series in five games, with His Airness averaging 31.2 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 11.4 assists.
The following Finals featured Jordan going up against Drexler and the Blazers. The Bulls superstar was upset pundits were comparing Drexler to him, and he used that as motivation to attack the Portland guard. Chicago won the series in six games, and Jordan torched Drexler by averaging 35.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 6.5 assists.
To finish off the first three-peat, the Bulls got the best of the Suns in the ’93 Finals. Jordan beat Barkley in six games and put up 41.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. He retired from the NBA in the summer following the tragic murder of his father and played minor league baseball before returning to basketball near the end of the 1994-95 season.
After losing to the Orlando Magic in the second round of the ’95 playoffs, Jordan and the Bulls won 72 games in 1995-96. They met Payton and the SuperSonics in the ’96 Finals and won the series in six games. Chicago then beat Malone, Stockton, and the Jazz in the ’97 and ’98 Finals to finish off the dynasty.
Jordan faced eight Hall of Famers in the Finals. Divac, Malone, Stockton, and Barkley finished their careers with zero rings, and one of them was quoted as saying it may not be worth it to play as long as MJ was in the NBA.
John Stockton had an honest quote about Michael Jordan
After the Bulls beat the Jazz in the ’98 Finals on a Jordan jumper over Bryon Russell, Stockton had an honest quote about the six-time Finals MVP. It sounded like the point guard was tired of losing to MJ.
“As long as he decides to play, you have to wonder if there’s any reason for the rest of us to play,” Stockton said. “It’s not a matter of being disheartened, but you know that as long as he’s breathing, he will not let his team lose.”
Stockton and Malone didn’t get back to the Finals even after Jordan retired in ’98. They are two of the best players in NBA history to have never won a title. Stockton was interviewed for the Last Dance docuseries, but Malone chose not to be in the documentary even though he and Jordan are friends.
Jordan returned to the NBA in 2001-02 to play with the Washington Wizards. He didn’t make the playoffs, but it was fun to watch him average 20.0 points and get standing ovations in every road arena he played in.
Sometimes you have to pinch yourself when you look at MJ’s career accomplishments
Jordan’s accomplishments were so great that you sometimes have to pinch yourself when you look at them because they almost seem unattainable. Along with his six rings and six Finals MVPs, the Bulls icon won five regular-season MVPs, 10 scoring titles, one Defensive Player of the Year Award, and three All-Star Game MVPs.
Jordan is the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game. He averaged 30.1 points with the Bulls and Wizards. The UNC product also has the highest PER in NBA history at 27.9 and is one of three players to win MVP and DPOY in the same season.
Even after he retired for the final time, Jordan still made history. After buying the Charlotte Hornets in 2010, he became the first former player to hold the title of majority governor of an NBA team.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.