1996 NBA Finals
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2008)|
|Dates||June 5 – 16|
|Announcers||Marv Albert, Matt Guokas and Bill Walton|
|Announcers||Brent Musburger and Jack Ramsay|
|Hall of Famers||
Michael Jordan (2009)
Scottie Pippen (2010)
Dennis Rodman (2011)
Gary Payton (2013)
Phil Jackson (2007)
Tex Winter (2011)
Dick Bavetta (2015)
|Eastern Finals||Bulls defeat Magic, 4–0|
|Western Finals||SuperSonics defeat Jazz, 4–3|
The 1996 NBA Finals was the championship series of the 1995-96 NBA season of the National Basketball Association. The Seattle SuperSonics (64–18) of the Western Conference took on the Chicago Bulls (72–10) of the Eastern Conference, with the Bulls holding home court advantage. The teams' 136 combined regular season wins shattered the previous record of 125 set in 1985. The series was played under a best-of-seven format.
Chicago won the series 4 games to 2. Michael Jordan was named Finals MVP.
Hal Douglas narrated the season-ending documentary Unstopabulls for NBA Entertainment.
This was the 50th NBA Finals played.
- 1 Background
- 2 Starting Lineups
- 3 1996 NBA Finals Roster
- 4 Series summary
- 5 Aftermath
- 6 See also
- 7 Notes and references
- 8 External links
In the playoffs, the Bulls lost only three games in four series, defeating Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, head coach George Karl and their Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship. The Bulls won the first three games of the best-of-seven series, but the Sonics rallied back to win the next two at home. Eventually, the more experienced Bulls proved to be too much as the Bulls captured their fourth title (after a two-year hiatus). For his performance in the series against Seattle, Michael Jordan was named the Finals MVP.
Michael Jordan decided to return to basketball in 1995, after a short stint as a baseball player. Although he failed to lead the Bulls to the Finals in that year, he returned to pre-retirement form the next year and led the Chicago Bulls to one of the most memorable seasons ever. Freshly motivated by the playoff defeat against the Orlando Magic, the Bulls trained aggressively in preparation for the 1995–96 season. By then most of the members of the first three-peat were gone, either through retirement (John Paxson, Bill Cartwright) or free agency and trades (Horace Grant, Scott Williams, Stacey King).
In the off-season, the Bulls lost B.J. Armstrong in the expansion draft, but Bulls general manager Jerry Krause pulled off a masterful deal by trading Will Perdue to the San Antonio Spurs for notorious rebounder Dennis Rodman, who had won the past four rebounding titles. Many doubted whether Rodman, who as a member of the "Bad Boys" Detroit Pistons teams of the late 1980s played a key role in the Jordan Rules defense the Pistons implemented during their fierce rivalry with the Bulls, would fit in with his former rivals. However, those questions were put to rest once the season began.
That year, strengthened by the addition of Dennis Rodman, the Bulls dominated the league. With a lineup of Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Luc Longley, and perhaps the league's best bench in Toni Kukoč, Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler, Jason Caffey, Bill Wennington, Dickey Simpkins and guard Randy Brown, the Bulls posted one of the best single-season improvements in league history and the best single-season record. They moved from 47–35 to 72–10. Jordan won his eighth scoring title, and Rodman his fifth straight rebounding title, while Kerr led the league in three-point shooting. Michael Jordan won the league's regular season and All-Star Game MVP awards.
Jerry Krause won the executive of the year award, Phil Jackson won the coach of the year award, and Toni Kukoč was the sixth man of the year. Both Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan made the all-NBA first team, and Jordan, Pippen, and Dennis Rodman all made the all-defensive first team, the only time three players from the same team had done so.
The Chicago Bulls had no problems during the playoffs. After demolishing Miami by over 15 points per game in the first round, they would go 4–1 against the Knicks in the semifinals to get revenge and sweep the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Seattle SuperSonics, coached by George Karl and led by All-Stars Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, emerged as contenders in the Western Conference by 1992. The Sonics broke through in the 1993 NBA Playoffs, pushing the eventual Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns to a seventh game in the conference finals. Then in the 1993–94 season, the Sonics finished atop the league with 63 victories. However, in the greatest playoff upset in NBA history, the Sonics lost 3 games to 2 to the eighth seeded Denver Nuggets, who finished 21 games behind Seattle in the West. Seattle would once again be upset in the first round of the 1995 playoffs against the Los Angeles Lakers. By this time, Seattle had a formidable All-Star duo in Payton and Kemp, plus role players in Detlef Schrempf, Nate McMillan, Sam Perkins and Hersey Hawkins.
After two first round defeats, Seattle would make a major comeback in the 1996 season, finishing with a 64–18 record to lead the Western Conference, and setting the record for highest single-season win total in SuperSonics history. Seattle blew through Sacramento in the first round; 3 games to 1. It also had no problems with defending champion Houston Rockets, sweeping them. However, their playoff troubles re-emerged after dropping two games to the Utah Jazz to bring the series to 3–3. However, Seattle took game 7 and won what was one of the most exciting series of the 1996 playoffs. Seattle would finally play in its first NBA Finals since 1979.
Road to the Finals
|Seattle SuperSonics (Western Conference Champion)||Chicago Bulls (Eastern Conference Champion)|
1st seed in the West, 2nd best league record
|Defeated the (8) Sacramento Kings, 3–1||First Round||Defeated the (8) Miami Heat, 3–0|
|Defeated the (5) Houston Rockets, 4–0||Conference Semifinals||Defeated the (5) New York Knicks, 4–1|
|Defeated the (3) Utah Jazz, 4–3||Conference Finals||Defeated the (2) Orlando Magic, 4–0|
Regular season series
Both teams split the two meetings, each won by the home team (Which was one of the ten Bulls losses of the season):
|Ron Harper||PG||Gary Payton‡|
|Michael Jordan‡||SG||Hersey Hawkins|
|Scottie Pippen‡||SF||Detlef Schrempf|
|Dennis Rodman‡||PF||Shawn Kemp|
|Luc Longley||C||Ervin Johnson|
1996 NBA Finals Roster
1996 Chicago Bulls