There was a fever sweeping through Chicago. The buzz flooded the city as newspapers, radio stations, news channels, friends and neighbors talked. It was inescapable. This fever that was taking over the Windy City was the 1995-‘96 Chicago Bulls. They captured the love and attention from the entire city; old and young, black and white, and everyone in between. They would end the ‘95-96 NBA season as World Champions and with a 72-10 record, the best in NBA history. Is it safe to say the 1996 Chicago Bulls were the best basketball team to ever lace up a pair of basketball shoes and step foot on the court? Plain and simple, the answer is yes.
The greatest NBA team in history was led by who most would call the greatest player ever, Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Having already led the Chicago Bulls to three consecutive championships, and pilling up numerous awards, ‘95-96 would be the start to another “three-peat”. Jordan’s unique combination of offensive fire power, grace, speed, strength, improvisational ability and his unrivaled competitive desire made him impossible to guard and one of the best defenders at his position. Jordan led the league in scoring with an average of 30.38 points per game, not to mention second in steals with an average of 2.2 per game during this historic season. However, M.J. was not alone. He had two future Hall-of-Famers by his side in Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.
The best way to describe Scottie Pippen would be a “freak of nature.” Standing at six foot eight and weighing two hundred and ten pounds, Pippen could guard positions one through four on the court. As if his size were not enough, he had a wingspan that reached over seven feet! This alone made him a premier defender for the Chicago Bulls’ record season. Although Pippen was mainly known for his lock down defense, he was no slouch on the offensive end. In the ’95-96 season, Scottie Pippen averaged 19.4 points per game along with 6.4 rebounds and 5.9 assists. Pippen was the perfect complimentary player. He played Robin to Michael Jordan’s Batman.
As if the dynamic duo listed above was not enough to make the ’95-96 Chicago Bulls the greatest basketball team, they also had Dennis Rodman to add into the mix. He was one of the most colorful and free-spirited athletes to ever play the game, not to mention an artist when it came to rebounding a basketball. Rodman led the league in the ‘95-96 season in rebounding with an average of 14.9 per game. His defensive presence was also a big contributor to the success of this team. Standing at six foot eight, Rodman was considered undersized for his position. He used sheer hard work and determination to outsmart and out work his opponent. Rodman’s outstanding passion for the game often got him into trouble, in one instance even being suspended for kicking a camera man. Even though his behavior got the best of him sometimes, this same behavior gave the ’95-96 Chicago Bulls an edge and attitude that played a huge role in their success.
Together, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman were the key elements to the historic success of the’ 95-96 World Champion Chicago Bulls. As expected the entire season, they swept through the playoffs and beat the Seattle SuperSonics in the championship. I can recall being a 15-year old boy present at Game 2 in Chicago for the finals. Only after spending hours in the Ticketmaster line with my family did I get a hold of a standing room-only ticket. They beat Seattle 92-88 that night. It was an indescribable feeling of victory that brought the entire city of Chicago together. I felt like I suddenly had twenty-three thousand best friends celebrating in the stands with me. Seventeen years later, this team is still talked about and remembered. I still see old t-shirts and hats scattered throughout the city. I personally have a trunk full of old photographs and newspaper clippings that mark the history of this incredible team. I am sure the entire city of Chicago would join me in saying that the 1995-1996 Chicago Bulls are the greatest team in history.