Michael Jordan made it clear in Episode 10 of The Last Dance that he regrets not getting a chance to go for championship No. 7 in 1999.
The Chicago Bulls’ dynasty came to an end after the 1998 NBA Finals win over the Utah Jazz. Jerry Krause made sure Phil Jackson didn’t return, which led to Jordan’s retirement. The Bulls let Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr leave for other teams, as well.
What if the Bulls decided to give it one more run in 1998-99, though? Could they have won a seventh championship?
The San Antonio Spurs won it all that year. David Robinson and Tim Duncan led the way for San Antonio, which beat New York in the NBA Finals.
Former Spurs guard Avery Johnson admitted on Zach Gelb’s radio show if they would’ve beaten the Jordan-led Bulls.
“Even though Michael is incredible, unbelievable, the Bulls just wasn’t going to have an answer for Tim Duncan and David Robinson,” Johnson said on the show. “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. 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.”
"I'm picking the Spurs in 7." – Avery Johnson if the '99 Spurs played the '98 Bulls pic.twitter.com/lj2g1Sm8SF
— Spurs Nation (@SpursNationCP) May 20, 2020
The 1998-99 season was shortened due to the strike, which likely would’ve helped the aging Bulls team.
Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf brought up another point earlier this week, though.
“The thing nobody wants to remember,” Reinsdorf told ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, “during lockout, Michael was screwing around with a cigar cutter, and he cut his finger. He couldn’t have played that year. He had to have surgery on the finger, so even if we could’ve brought everybody back, it wouldn’t have made any sense.”
Would that have happened if Jordan knew he was coming back? Who knows.
The Spurs beat the Knicks, 4-1, in the NBA Finals that year. Maybe the Jordan-led Bulls wouldn’t have won, but they probably would’ve lasted more than five games.