1996 Bulls Win NBA Championship

"I've reached my pinnacle."

Those were the words uttered by Michael Jordan during the October 6, 1993 news conference where he announced his retirement from basketball.   After the three-peat and the murder of his father, Jordan was physically tired, and it seemed that his retirement would be permanent. In one of the great surprises of all sports, Jordan signed a minor league baseball contract to play baseball for the Chicago White Sox in February 1994. Later that year, Jordan's No. 23 would be retired, and a statue commemorating his excellence would be unveiled outside the newly minted United Center.  Surely fans were convinced they'd seen the last of Air Jordan.

Without Jordan, the Bulls struggled in the 1993-94 season. The Bulls wouldn't struggle for long, though.

Everything would change on March 18, 1995, when Jordan proclaimed, "I'm back," and returned to play for the Bulls. The following day Jordan suited up wearing No. 45 and made an immediate impact. That year the Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals, but they were bested by the Orlando Magic.

The 1995-96 season began with an intriguing acquisition by the Bulls. After careful consideration, the Bulls traded their center Will Perdue to the San Antonio Spurs for defensive phenom Dennis Rodman. The addition of Rodman was a huge boost for the Bulls, who dominated the 95-96 season. The triangle offense between Rodman, Pippen and Jordan was unstoppable. The Bulls also featured one of the best benches, including the likes of Steve Kerr and Toni Kukoc. Their 72 wins during the regular season would set a record that still stands.

The Bulls breezed through the playoffs and met the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA finals. After the Bulls won the first three games, the Supersonics found themselves in a hole from which no NBA team has ever emerged. Despite the odds, the Supersonics bounced back and won two games on their home court. Returning to Chicago for game six, the Bulls put on a defensive show and held the Supersonics to 75 points on their way to win their fourth NBA title.

To learn more about one of the best teams in NBA history, take a look at Bull Run! by Roland Lazenby or The Chicago Bulls Encyclopedia by Alex Sachare.

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