Michael Jordan and his 1998 Chicago team wrapped up their final year together with a sixth championship ring, but one wonders what would’ve happened if the team had came back for more season.
The following season was shortened to 50 games due to a strike and the San Antonio Spurs ended up winning the title.
Jordan believes the Bulls would have won the 1999 NBA title, but Avery Johnson says otherwise.
The former Spurs star believes San Antonio would have ended any shot Chicago had at a 4-peat. Johnson spoke with “The Zach Gelb Show” about a hypothetical Spurs-Bulls 1999 NBA Finals and said San Antonio could have sent the Bulls their first NBA Finals series loss.
“The Bulls didn’t have that many Game 7s,” Johnson said.
“They had one against Reggie Miller and the Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals. But we were an unbelievable defensive team. Obviously the game was played in the low-90s, high-80s. That was our tempo. We made it tough. Obviously when we beat the Knicks in the Finals with Allan Houston and [Latrell] Sprewell, no, those guys aren’t Jordan, but those guys were [really good] wing players that we had to slow down and contain. We had some really good defenders, we had a lot of rim protection with David and Tim, [and] we had a young guy in his head-coaching tenure, Gregg Popovich, that could match wits with anybody. Again, we will never see it, but I like our chances.”
Tim Duncan versus Dennis Rodman would’ve a great matchup.
“Even though Michael is incredible, unbelievable, the Bulls just wasn’t going to have an answer for Tim Duncan and David Robinson,” Johnson said. “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.
The Spurs would defeat the New York Knicks 4-1 in the NBA Finals to win their first of five titles and start the franchise’s dynasty.
San Antonio ranked first in Defensive Rating (95.0) and 11th in Offensive Rating (104.4) in 1999.
“So I just think it would have been a tough series, [but] I’m picking the Spurs in seven.”