This is a rather simple tribute to one of the greatest teams in NBA history, if not the greatest; the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls. I've been a fan of "Da Bulls" since I was in grade school. My basketball life was opened up, not by "Air Jordan", but by John Paxson, the Bulls guard famous for hitting the clutch 3-pointer in the Game 6 of the 1992 NBA Finals against the Phoenix Suns. After that, I was introduced to the Bulls' brand of balling, and I've constantly rooted for them even during the time that Jordan was away to try his luck in baseball.
The 1995-96 Season
The 1995-96 season was much hyped because it's going to be the first full season of the returning Michael Jordan, who had a disappointing playoff series loss to Orlando in the 1995 NBA Playoffs. Including Jordan's hype, the NBA season featured 2 new teams in Canada - the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Toronto Raptors.
For all of you baller kids out there, Kobe Bryant was just about to graduate from Lower Merion High School and LeBron James was barely 12 during this time, not to mention this was the time when basketball card collecting went into its renaissance and Grant Hill (before becoming somewhat the Benjamin Button of the NBA in the present time )and Penny Hardaway were in the regular ESPN nightly highlight reels.
The Bulls' Season Summary
In the offseason, the Bulls acquired Dennis Rodman and Jack Haley from the San Antonio Spurs for center Will Perdue and cash considerations. Dennis Rodman wore #91 (9+1 =10, his old Pistons and Spurs jersey number) since Bob Love's #10 has been hung up above the rafters. Rodman was acquired in order to fill up the power forward void left by Horace Grant, who left for the Orlando Magic before the start of the 1994-95 season.
The Bulls started the season going 10-1, then 23-2, then surging to 41-3 during the middle of the season. They were able to hit 70 wins with a win over the Milwaukee Bucks, 86-80, on April 16, 1996.
Michael Jordan won triple crown honors as the regular season, All-Star Game, and Finals MVP honors, not to mention winning his eighth scoring title. Scottie Pippen, along with Jordan, was named to the All-NBA First Team and Dennis Rodman won his 5th consecutive rebounding title to go along with his inclusion in the All-Defensive Team with Jordan and Pippen, and it was the first time that three players in the same team were named All-Defensive. Toni Kukoc, after being relegated to the bench in place of "The Worm", was named Sixth Man of the Year and Phil Jackson won the Coach of the Year honors.
In the playoffs we saw the Bulls coast to the NBA Championship, culminating with a win over the Seattle Supersonics, 4-2. Before that, it was redemption of sorts for Michael Jordan and the Bulls after they swept the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals after being humiliated by the Magic in the previous playoffs. Remember when they first wore black socks? This was the season.
The Bulls finished a combined regular season and playoff record of 87 wins and 13 losses, which is still unprecedented as of the present day. The Bulls would then go to win 2 more championships until Michael Jordan's retirement in 1998.
Where are they now?
Michael Jordan ('95-96 Stats: 30.4 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.2 spg)
Michael Jordan came back for a third time in a Washington Wizards uniform back in 2001. He played for 2 seasons, failing to make the playoffs each year. He is currently the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, having wrestled the controlling stake from BET and former Bobcats owner Robert Johnson. He was recently named the 20th Most Powerful Celebrity in the World by Forbes Magazine. According to the Forbes article, Brand Jordan generates $1 billion in sales for Nike. His two sons, Jeffrey and Marcus, both play college basketball at the University of Central Florida.
Scottie Pippen ('95-96 Stats: 19.4 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 5.9 apg, 1.73 spg)
Recently named to the 2010 Basketball Hall of Fame, Scottie Pippen was also recently made The Chicago Bulls ambassador to the team. He had his jersey #33 retired by the Bulls, joining Michael Jordan, Bob Love and Jerry Sloan for the honors.
Dennis Rodman ('95-96 Stats: 5.5 ppg, 14.9 rpg)
"The Worm" was very much in the media after his NBA career. He appeared in shows such as "Celebrity Apprentice", being the fifth contestant to be eliminated, and has keeps a blog at DennisRodman.com . According to his book Bad As I Wanna Be, which was published around the late '90s, he said after playing his last NBA game, he will strip naked and run around the court. He's unable to fulfill that vow.
Toni Kukoc ('95-96 Stats: 13.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.5 apg)
Toni Kukoc retired from professional play in 2006 when he was unable to land jobs with either Milwaukee Bucks or Chicago Bulls, as he was seeking for a team that's close to his home in Highland Park, IL. His son, Marin, has committed to play for the University of Pennsylvania after a standout career at the Highland Park High School team.
Steve Kerr ('95-96 Stats: 8.4 ppg, 92% ft, 51% 3pt)
After a stint as the President and General Manager of the Phoenix Suns, Steve Kerr recently returned to TNT as an NBA analyst for the 2010-11 season. He was reportedly being eyed by the Golden State Warriors for a front-office position.
Luc Longley ('95-96 Stats: 9.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 1.35 bpg)
In addition to his membership in the Australian Basketball Hall of Fame, Luc was also inducted to the Sport Australia Hall of Fame. He is now a marine conservation advocate in his country, and won the rights to name a shrimp in an eBay auction. He named the shrimp, Lebbeus clarehanna after his daughter, Clare Hanna Longley, as a birthday present to her.
Jud Buechler ('95-96 Stats: 3.8 ppg, 44% 3FG)
A former standout volleyball player back in his high school days, Jud Buechler currently serves as a coach for the Encinitas Volleyball Club in California.
Bill Wennington ('95-96 Stats: 5.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg)
Bill Wennington currently serves as a radio color commentator for the Chicago Bulls.
Randy Brown ('95-96 Stats: 2.7 ppg, 1.1 apg)
In July 2009, Randy Brown was hired as the Chicago Bulls' director of player development. Prior to that, he served as an assistant coach for the Sacramento Kings for 2 seasons.
John Salley ('95-96 Stats: 2.1 ppg, 25. rpg)
John Salley currently hosts a podcast named Spider and the Henchman along with sportswriter Kevin Hench in Adam Carolla's ACE broadcast network. He also did bit roles in movies such as Confessions of a Shopaholic and Black Dynamite. He also served as one of the hosts of The Best Damn Sports Show Period on Fox Sports Network.
Jason Caffey ('95-96 Stats: 3.2 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
He was a rookie for the Bulls in the '95-96 season. As of the present time, Jason Caffey is still having legal woes as he was sued for not rendering child support to 10 children by 8 women.
Dickey Simpkins ('95-96 Stats: 3.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg)
Dickey is currently a training facility called "Next Level Performance". Simpkins himself serves as head trainer, and has four facilities in various parts of Illinois.
James Edwards ('95-96 3.5 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
James Edwards, along with former NBA forward Jerome Kersey, runs a player agency called Premier Sports International based in Portland, OR.
Coach Phil Jackson
"The Zen Master" is currently the winningest coach in NBA history, grabbing 11 championships while beating the record of Pat Riley on the fastest coach to achieve 1000 wins. In addition, he is considered to be the winningest coach in all of North American professional sports leagues.