1990–91 NBA season was the Bulls’ 25th season in the National Basketball Association. The Bulls finished in first place in the Central Division, as well as first overall in the Eastern Conference with a 61–21 record, surpassing their previous franchise-best from the 1971–72 season. Michael Jordan won another scoring title and his second MVP award, while being selected for the 1991 NBA All-Star Game.The
In the first round of the playoffs, the Bulls swept the New York Knicks in three straight games. Then in the semifinals, they defeated the 5th-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in five games. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they swept the defending champion Detroit Pistons in four straight games, and advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time. The Bulls would go on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals in five games, winning their first ever championship in franchise history. This season was the first of three consecutive NBA titles for the Bulls, as well as marking the beginning of the legendary Bulls Dynasty, which would net the team another five more championships throughout the 1990s.
There are 10 takeaways from ‘The Last Dance’ teaser, ESPN’s docu-series on Michael Jordan’s final championship run with the Bulls
The mid-1990s Bulls were a cultural phenomenon, and the 1997-98 season completed their second three-peat, their sixth championship in eight seasons and sixth straight in seasons unaffected by Jordan’s bid to compete in baseball.
“The Last Dance” looks to focus on the ’97-98 season as well as events leading to the scattering afterward of the team’s core — Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and coach Phil Jackson, all Hall of Famers.
1. The famously competitive Jordan cops to being competitive.
“I am cursed with a mentality of competitiveness,” Jordan says.
In case you missed that, Jackson adds, “Competition was an addiction.” But it’s not clear if he’s speaking specifically about Jordan.
2. That competitive drive sometimes may have made Jordan a pain to be around.
“I’m going to ridicule you until you get on the same level as me,” Jordan says in a sound bite presented without context.
Jordan, however, leaves no doubt what he’s talking about when he says, “My mentality was to go out there and win, at any cost.”
3. Did we mention Jordan could be competitive?
There’s a clip of him throwing a ball off the head of Pacers guard Mark Jackson, now an ESPN game analyst.
It is from a game at the United Center in April ’98 in which the Pacers effectively double-teamed Jordan.
Jordan had driven to the hoop after a steal, and Jackson fouled him hard. Jordan was called for a technical foul after nailing Jackson in the back of the head in response.
Not only did Jordan lose his cool, the Bulls lost that game 114-105.
4. There are other examples of frustration being vented.
Jackson can be seen slamming a door. Another clip shows Jordan kicking what appears to be an empty Miller Lite box.
5. Budweiser makes an appearance too.
“That’s waterproof color, right there,” Jordan says as he pours champagne on Rodman’s hair, dyed a mottled green and black, as others laugh. “That’s waterproof!”
Someone between Rodman and the camera is seen adding a can of Bud to the celebratory rinse job.
6. The film crew’s unprecedented access 20-plus years ago is touted.
Jordan — who’s competitive, remember — is shown playing cards on the team plane with Ron Harper seated across the table, beer in hand.
7. There are shots of an NBA film library that evokes the warehouse scene at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
Labels on archival film canisters include “MJ with Press,” “Bulls Closed Practice,” “5-31-98 Pacers Gm. 7” and something with the notation “Do Not Release.”
8. Rodman could be disruptive.
Jordan recalls Rodman disappearing: “We don’t see or hear Dennis for 48 hours.”
“No matter what we did, it seemed like he was the story,” says teammate Steve Kerr — wearing a T-shirt of the Warriors, the team he coached to three NBA titles in the last four seasons — presumably referring to Rodman.
9. Pippen’s complicated relationships with teammates and role with the team are explored too.
Rodman, a former member of the “Bad Boy” Pistons that bedeviled the Bulls earlier in the decade, says he “never hated” Pippen.
It’s left to the imagination what Jordan is referring to when he says, “Scottie was being selfish.”
Pippen, likely referring to Jordan, says, “It was his team.”
Absent context, however, it’s also possible Pippen meant Jackson, Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf or someone else.
For all we know, Pippen could be talking about 1994, when Jordan was playing baseball, and referring to Toni Kukoc in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Knicks.
While Pippen was the putative leader of that Bulls team, he infamously refused to take the court when Jackson assigned Kukoc to take what proved to be the game-winning shot.
10a. For all the quick cuts, random quotes and vaguely haunting musical strains, at the heart of this promo is a quote from Pippen.
“We were the greatest team ever,” Pippen says.
10b. Oh, and also the fact Jordan’s competitive nature drove the team.
“Our biggest challenge is us,” Jordan says in a postgame interview clip.
“The top 20 moments of the Chicago Bulls historic 1990-91 season that culminated in the franchises first NBA Championship.”
1. Jordan’s switch hands layup (Game 2 of NBA Finals versus Lakers)
It was an iconic moment, even if it didn’t carry in game significance. The Bulls had the so-called must win Game 2 well in control with a 19-point lead after three. Early in the fourth quarter, Michael Jordan took off down the right side after an A.C. Green miss and was driving in for a right handed slam dunk. Sam Perkins appeared and went up, causing Jordan to hesitate-in the air-and actually switch the ball into his left hand as Perkins went by to lay the ball in. Bulls coach Phil Jackson said he’d never seen anyone do anything like it before. The Bulls easily won the game, but, significantly, Chicago sent a message to the Lakers in evening the series at 1-1 that you’ll see things you’ve never seen before from this Bulls team. Jordan would go on to be regular season and Finals MVP, all-defensive first team and win his fifth straight scoring title in his run to seven until leaving the game for the first time in 1993.