Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were an impressive dynasty during the 1990s, capturing six NBA championships. The team’s final run in 1998 was captured on ESPN’s The Last Dance 10-episode docuseries, and there was even a tease that the team could have won a seventh title.
Not so fast, says former San Antonio Spurs guard Avery Johnson. He recently went on record to say why the Bulls wouldn’t have been able to get another title even if they’d stayed together.
Former Spurs Player Avery Johnson on Bulls’ 7th Title Opportunity
Avery Johnson, aka “The Little General,” played with San Antonio for about 10 years and captured his one and only NBA title for the 1998-99 season. That was the season after the Bulls’ dynasty disbanded, with Phil Jackson leaving, Michael Jordan heading into retirement, and Scottie Pippen getting traded.
Michael Jordan mentioned in ESPN’s Last Dance that he still has that thought in his head of the team capturing their seventh championship. He believes had the Bulls been able to keep the core of their roster together, they would have done it.
However, Avery Johnson recently spoke about it on The Zach Gelb show, suggesting his belief that the Bulls would not have been able to do it.
“Even though Michael is incredible, unbelievable, the Bulls just wasn’t going to have an answer for Tim Duncan and David Robinson,” Johnson said as he gave his reasons for why the Bulls wouldn’t have won that seventh title.
“I know Dennis [Rodman] was a good defender, but Dennis wouldn’t have been able to slow down Tim Duncan, and nobody on their roster could guard David,” Johnson added.
“Mario Elie and Sean Elliott were incredible defenders. Just to make it tough on Michael, we had multiple guys that we could throw at him. So I just think it would have been a tough series, [but] I’m picking the Spurs in seven,” the former Spurs guard said.
That would certainly have been an entertaining Finals, if the Chicago Bulls had everyone back for the matchup.
Spurs Were on the Cusp as Bulls Won No. 6
Fans nearly got to see that Chicago Bulls vs. San Antonio Spurs matchup for the Bulls’ run at No. 6. Big man Tim Duncan was drafted in 1997, and immediately showed he was a special player. He averaged a double-double and helped bring the team to the Western Conference semi-finals alongside David Robinson.
The team that defeated them was a hungry and more experienced Utah Jazz squad with John Stockton and Karl Malone. They’d reach the NBA Finals for the second-straight year only to fall to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. In the year after that, Duncan, Robinson, and the Spurs emerged as the new dominant force, even though some people, including Shaquille O’Neal, point to the shortened season.
Still, fans have to wonder “what if” the Bulls and Spurs had ended up competing in that finals, or the one after. Avery Johnson certainly brings up some great points and even mentioned that it wasn’t a given that Scottie Pippen would’ve returned if Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman remained on the roster.
Unfortunately, fans will never know if MJ and his Bulls would’ve had the ability to handle an opponent like Tim Duncan and David Robinson’s San Antonio Spurs. Visit our Spurs news page to get more of the latest team and player updates.