The Chicago Bulls lineup in the 90s was one of the most incredible lineups in professional basketball history. Let’s take a look at why.
The Last Dance
There are a lot of incredible things that happened in the 90s for us to look back on fondly here in the 2020s; The Spice Girls, The Mickey Mouse Club, Furbies, and definitely the Chicago Bulls 90s lineup. This lineup was the beginning of a dynasty that would go on to define basketball as a sport and what teams should look for in their players. It was the pinnacle of the sport’s popularity and the height of the Michael Jordan craze. Anyone betting on NBA odds back then would have favored the Bulls a hundred to one, and they most likely would have won that bet. The 90s set the pace, and the 90s Bulls set the bar for what a basketball team should be, and it’s a goal that no one has really ever reached since that lineup was on the court. These legendary players created a cultural phenomenon that is still felt within the sport to this day. Let’s take a look at precisely what it was about the Bulls in the 90s that made them what they were as a team.
The Stars Aligned
The set of circumstances that had to conspire to create the perfect storm for the Chicago Bulls was something truly unique. Sure, they aren’t the only team that has ever created a lasting dynasty that would serve them for years. They aren’t even at the top of the pile of impressive sports dynasties in the US, but there’s a special kind of perfection that the Bulls attained that no one has come close to since.
One aspect that fueled the almost mythical quality surrounding the team was the conspicuous lack of real injuries dragging them down. Sure there were minor things, as with any team of hard-hitting athletes, but the Bull’s reign was largely unhampered by any devastating injuries to any of their players. Some might say this was luck, some might say it was due to the incredible skill and training of skilled athletes, and some might say the Bulls were just blessed by the divine.
For a time, it seemed that the Bulls had no weaknesses. They lacked the inferiorities that brought down some of the most successful teams of their day. One aspect of this was their coach Phil Jackson and his incredible ability to manage the huge personalities within the team. Everyone knows that any chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and Jackson knew that his job was to make sure that every link in that chain felt and acted like the strongest possible link.
While the Bulls remained largely intact, losses to other teams like the Pistons were barely a stone in the team’s shoe. Losing players from their teams, whether permanently or for a short period, is a part of the game. It was a shock when the Bulls lost Michael Jordan to another sport entirely (baseball) for two long years, but the team was such a well-oiled machine that it chugged along until his return. Jordan’s rusty return could have sparked a downward spiral, but the Bull’s ability to move as one unit with a hive mind saved them yet again. Sometimes you have to lose to win; the team turned those losses into lessons and used those lessons on the following teams that they faced to prove their apparent invincibility.
The crowd doesn’t clap and chant DEFENSE for nothing, and the Bulls knew it. Both Pippen, Jordan, and Rodman made the All-Defensive team more than once. The team, on the whole, was known for being able to defend against any attack. The 90s Bulls were unselfish in a way that few teams, especially today, seem to be. A win was for the team, by the team, not for a singular player.
Even in a star-studded lineup like the one the Bulls had in the 90s, there are always some players who are a little more backstage and a few who are more center stage. These backstage players, though still in the public eye, are the glue that holds any good team together, players like Ron Harper, who joined the Bulls from the Cleveland Cavaliers. An athlete almost of the same caliber as Michael Jordan but never entirely in the same sort of spotlight. Players like Dennis Rodman, who, some might argue, was hardly a backstage player, had the hard-nosed tenacity needed to push through difficult moments.
The 1990s Chicago Bulls were the pinnacle of basketball. They’re an impossible standard but a standard nonetheless, and it’s easy to see why they’ve gone down in history as one of the greats.
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