Michael Jordan was extremely bullish on his chances to three-peat again after coming back from retirement, and he reveals why.
The path to the Bulls three-peat was extremely difficult. The 1991-93 Bulls were aiming to overcome longtime adversaries in the the Detroit Pistons. The homegrown trio of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Horace Grant had to fight hard every series to secure the 3 straight championships.
When MJ shockingly announced his retirement after the 1993 Finals, the Bulls found it hard to cope. The front office traded away key pieces including Grant while still in the dark about their future. Hence when MJ made a surprise comeback in 1995, the situation wasn’t ideal.
Chicago now had Scottie Pippen as their front-man, and popular Euro-star Toni Kukoc had finally joined the team three years after being drafted in 1990. The team chemistry wasn’t right since MJ had joined mid-season, and this was a factor in the team’s collapse against Orlando Magic in the Semifinals.
Before the legendary 1995-96 season where the Bulls went 72-10, MJ discussed how himself, Pippen, and Kukoc could be a fearsome trio when they were clicking. “When you have good basketball players playing all together, it looks great when everybody’s clicking,” Jordan had said.
Jordan and Pippen’s relationship with Kukoc had started on a bad note after USA’s demolition of Croatia in the 1992 Olympics.
MJ added, “We have to be in a compromising situation here: Somehow, we have to bring Kukoc’s game to meet our game. He has to understand that, too, to push himself on days that he doesn’t want to push so that we don’t lose the continuity of this threesome.”
He revealed how his experience during the first three-peat was similar. “Quite frankly, myself, Pippen, and (Horace) Grant were the same way in the years we won championships. Whenever that was disrupted, we lost that connectiveness. Somehow, we have to maintain that to win it all.”
The result was apparent from the start of the season. MJ won MVP and Finals MVP, Pippen got selected as an all-star, and Kukoc was named the 6th Man of the Year for his impressive outings from the bench. MJ surely has an eye out for talent.