Chicago Bulls secrets of 72-10: beyond Jordan

The Illinois franchise broke the NBA winning record in the 1995-96 season. Phil Jackson remembers what the keys were.


Chicago Bulls became the first franchise in history in the 1995-16 season to win 72 games in the Regular Season. They were, until the emergence of the Golden State Warriors and their 73-9, the best team that the NBA had seen on a basketball court. But what was his secret? Just the limitless power of Michael Jordan? The magic of the offensive triangle? According to Phil Jackson, in his book Eleven Rings, All and None of It. It was a global, a set of ingredients that allowed the group to go from the idea of "we are great and they are not" to "life is great", following the perspective of tribal leadership that marked the personal and sporting life of the great Zen Master.

Apart from the spiritual, the former coach highlights four significant advances and two keys in relation to a Bulls that lost in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference in 1995 to the Orlando Magic of Shaquille O'Neal. The pivot, Jackson's future pupil with the Lakers (three rings together), crushed the Illinois team with 24.3 points and 13.2 rebounds on average in the series.First advance - change of vision

After that loss and with Jordan since the beginning of the season (he played the last 17 games of the previous Regular Season after his adventure in baseball), Jackson and the Bulls changed the vision of the point guard. "The dogma of the NBA held that unless you could find another Magic Johnson, the best strategy was to place small men as bases (...). I wondered what would happen if we simultaneously placed three tall and arm bases on the court. long ", says the technician in his book. For this reason, he decided together with Jerry Krause (general manager) to send BJ Armstrong (1.88 meters and 79 kilos) to the expansion draft of that year and stay with Ron Harper (1.98 meters and 84 kilos), who modified his scorer facet for that of great defender.

Thus, the outer line was formed by the conductor, Scottie Pippen (2.03 meters), Michael Jordan (1.98 meters) and Harper himself. This allowed for mismatches in rival defenses and a substantial improvement in their own by being able to change and cover larger posts without the need to double the marking.Second advance - the arrival of Rodman

El Gusano arrived that season from some San Antonio Spurs where he never adapted and in which he had more than one problem due to his constant departures from the established order. He was "last on the list" for those sins and for not knowing if Jordan and Pippen would admit it because of their past in Detroit's Bad Boys. There was risk, but it was right, because Rodman was not a simple rebounder. "He was a smart, hypnotic defender who could take care of anyone, including Shaq, who was weighing six inches and 40 pounds out of him," recalls the man who took over the reins of the Bulls in 1989 by replacing Doug Collins.

Third Breakthrough - Jordan's Leadership

After his return from baseball, Jordan faced the harsh reality: he was unaware of most of his new teammates. There were remnants of that three-time champion team like Pippen, but men like Horace Grant, John Paxson and Will Perdue were gone. His departure also caused the squad to have to look for a larger unit to supply him. George Mumford's work was the key to that new connection between the members of a franchise that once again had the greatest among them. Many feared him and there were big frictions (fight with Kerr), which made a transformation of MJ urgent. "That situation (with the current Warriors coach) forced me to look at myself and I told myself that I was behaving like an idiot. I knew I had to be more respectful with my teammates. And also with what happened to me in the I was trying to get back to the team. I had to look more inward, "recalls Jordan.

His Airness had to find, together with Mumford himself, a new way of relating and becoming intimate with his colleagues. Change that leading by example to leading from unity. The defiant gaze no longer worked as before. "He stopped judging others so much and became more aware of his limitations. By playing baseball on smaller teams and spending many hours with his teammates, he rediscovered the joy of engaging with other men and, more than anything, he wished he could have it again. that experience, "emphasizes Jackson.

The Forgotten Breakthrough - Phil Jackson

Jackson was the real cornerstone of the project. Without him, it would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for these huge Bulls to have stormed the sky. His knowledge of the game, the profound changes he made in it and that philosophy of life between humanistic psychology, Zen meditation and Native American philosophy allowed the adaptation of the pieces and achieve greatness. "I think in the second triplet we need Phil more than in the first. In the first triplet the egos had not yet settled and in the second we had to intertwine different personalities and the egos were really powerful. Phil had to come together as a brotherhood", recognized the mythical 23 over the years.

The perfect union

"Talent, leadership, attitude and common goals". Those were the ingredients that some Bulls had that formed with the following quintet: Pippen (looser without having to impersonate Jordan), Rodman (exceeded expectations, absorbed the triangle as his own and adapted to the three exteriors wonderfully) , Jordan (what else to say), Harper (multipurpose point guard and reinvented defensive bulldog) and Luc Longley (with 2.18 and 120 kilos he gave presence and inner strength). "You had four bulldogs in the starting lineup and they could all hold four or five positions on the track. It was incredible," Kerr explains at the time. In attack you just had to wait for the magic to do its part of the work.The details make the champion

Behind those five, there were other quality men who were waiting to write his name on the best pages of history such as Kukoc and his role as sixth man (both in scoring and organization of the game) and Kerr and his danger Exterior. In addition, the Chicago team featured Bill Wennington and James Edwards (centers and former bad boy), Randy Brown (offensive specialist), Jud Buechler (talented forward) and Dickey Simpkins and rookie Jason Caffey (backup power forward). These were the 72-10 Bulls and their secrets.

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