The Chicago Bulls saw their dynasty come to an end after the 1997-98 season as their entire core group was disbanded. Michael Jordan stepped into retirement while head coach Phil Jackson departed along with Scottie Pippen being traded and Dennis Rodman getting released. It’s a move forward in the rebuilding mode that has drawn much criticism as it essentially guided Jordan away from the Bulls. However, there was one aspect to the entire matter that drove Jordan absolutely crazy.
Bulls’ dynasty comes to an end
The writing had been on the wall before the 1997-98 season had even begun that started with Jackson being told by general manager Jerry Krause that he was in his final year.
The tension there had been underlying throughout the last couple of years, which led Krause to his breaking point. That alone pushed Jordan decree that he wasn’t going to play for another head coach if Jackson was gone.
That entire campaign had the center of focus around Jordan’s long-term future as the speculation was that it was his last season. Things were falling at the seams that only added to the perception that this was going to be the Bulls’ final run with their current core group.
Despite all that being the case, one part of the situation pissed Jordan off the most about how things transpired.
Michael Jordan wanted to vie for seventh title
The Bulls knew that the 1998 Finals would be their last chance to compete for a championship with Jordan and Jackson leading the charge.
However, The Last Dance documentary shed more light on the internal dealings with the situation as team owner Jerry Reinsdorf offered Jackson a return for another season. He turned down Reinsdorf’s offer by voicing that he needed to take a break and that it wouldn’t be fair to Krause.
That led to Reinsdorf to state in the documentary that their run ended on its own, and that had Jordan come back he believes Krause could have built a championship team in a couple of years. It was the first time that Jordan had heard that explanation from the Bulls owner, which he voiced that he believes that everyone would have come back for one more year that only drove him mad that they didn’t get that opportunity.
“It’s maddening,” he said. “Because I felt like we could’ve won seven. I really believe that. We may not have, but man, just to not be able to try, that’s something that I just can’t accept for whatever reason. I just can’t accept it.”
There was undoubtedly that needed to unfold in a manner that would have been conducive to that scenario playing out, but the team wasn’t given that opportunity. Krause wanted to move in another direction by rebuilding the Bulls almost entirely.
Jordan’s perspective on the matter does open up some eyes, but things had reached a point where relationships had been damaged and hit a breaking point that wouldn’t have allowed it to all work out in that manner.
Could the Bulls had competed for another NBA title?
The Bulls had a strong core group put together with Jordan heading the charge could have put them in a spot to be a top team in the league.
The primary concern would have been the team’s health as Jordan was wearing down a bit from the mileage over the second three-peat. Pippen was breaking down physically while he demanded a trade, and the team was nearing wit’s end with Rodman’s antics off the court.
Despite that, it’s hard not to imagine that the Bulls wouldn’t have been in the picture to compete for an NBA title. There were just so many factors at play that make it difficult to predict if they would have finished onto for a fourth straight year.
Nonetheless, it’s one of the most discussed “what-if” scenarios in league history.