Jay C. Brandriet
Just to remind ourselves… Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls teams won three straight championships from 1991-93. Michael then played baseball for essentially two seasons. He went on to lead the Bulls to three more titles in a row from 1996-98. There are many Jordan observers and lovers who are sure if he had not stepped away in 1993, he would have won eight consecutive championships.
I was taught to talk about what I know. Here, we would all be doing a lot of guessing. His two three-peats, and undefeated Finals record is the most incredible team sports feat in my lifetime. The guy won 25 of his last 26 playoff series. That said, I never considered MJ could have won eight straight.
While he was staying in athletic condition, getting away from the game was vital for him. As the months went on Michael became re-charged, and fully in love with basketball again. A new fire for the sport came over him at the age of 32. He had to get away, to rediscover his art.
The three-peats were both hard! Despite what you have been told, Michael had many elite players and teams in his way. He had to extinguish the Pistons when they were the “Bad Boys.” The New York Knicks and Pat Riley became very familiar with Jordan. There were new age monsters like Shaq and Penny. The Pacers were a smart, physical test.
Beating Magic Johnson in the Finals was a symbolic result and considered a passing of the torch. The Trail Blazers were strong world title contenders for a good window of time. The 1993 Suns could hang with anyone in history. Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and the 64 win Supersonics were no joke. Beating Stockton, Malone, and the Jerry Sloan led Jazz, was difficult. Doing it back to back was amazing. I thought the Bulls were the underdog the second time they met. It took every bit of Michael’s and his teams brilliance and energy to get it done.
The 1994 and 1995 Houston Rockets won back to back titles. Those teams are underrated for the most part. They did not get full credit because of Jordan’s absence. Hakeem Olajuwon took over the NBA. The Bulls did not match up well against Houston. They were 1-5 against the Rockets when Mike was at his very best (1991-93).
What about the loud whispers that Michael was forced to leave the league? What if his gambling caused serious trouble for him, and he simply could not add to his first three titles? The 1998 version of MJ was still the worlds greatest player, but he was tired. If he plays in 1994 and 1995, I imagine he’s more tired.
“Air Jordan” is the best I’ve ever seen. Let’s not forget, he gave up the chance to win at least four straight a second time when he retired again in 1998. I understand why some may feel he could have strung together eight straight. To me, that mostly feels like Jordan worship. Two three-peats will have to do.
Jay C. Brandriet