Michael Jordan and the Postseason Bullies
When looking at Michael Jordan's basketball resume, it's hard not to notice the 6-0 finals record. The Chicago Bulls of the 90's were one of the greatest teams of all-times, lead by the greatest player of all-time. The modern NBA may never witness a playoff run like Jordan accomplished ever again.
Landing a matchup against the Bulls in the postseason did not fair well for most teams. If Jordan was playing, it pretty much did not matter who they were facing, chances are, Jordan wasn't going to lose. Below are teams that got bullied by Chicago.
The Bulls and the Heat met three times in the playoffs and the Heat only won one game. It's not quite a rivalry and can't really be even considered a battle. In fact, the Heat were swept the first two series.
The Heat rolled out lineups with Glen Rice, Ron Seikaly, Tim Hardaway, Alonzo Morning, and others. Unfortunately, they'd need all of those players on the same roster, not spread out over three different teams, to make it past the Bulls. A playoff matchup with the Bulls was a death sentence for most, for the Heat, it was a guarantee.
Like the Heat, the battles against the Hornets barely qualify due to the dominance of the Bulls. Also like the Heat, the Hornets would roll out lineups centered around either Glen Rice or Alonzo Morning, but you and I both know how that would end up.
Imagine being as skilled as Glen Rice or Alonzo Morning and being rostered on two different teams that keep running into Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Fortunately for both, they either won a championship before Jordan's reign began, or after it ended.
The biggest knock on the career of Charles Barkley was that he never won a championship, that's partly due to Michael Jordan. The Bulls and 76ers only faced off twice in the 90's, where the 76ers would only win two out of the 10 games. For the 76ers, it wasn't due to a lack of talent.
Built around the Mound Round of Rebound, Charles Barkley, the 76ers supporting cast featured Hersey Hawkins, Armen Gilliam, Johnny Dawkins, Ron Anderson, Mike Gminski, Rick Mahorn, and Manute Bol. Unfortunately, facing off against Michael Jordan takes more firepower.
New York Knicks
The Bulls and the Knicks faced off five times during Jordan's reign. Like Barkley, Patrick Ewing's illustrious career is missing one key piece, a championship. Ewing can thank Jordan for that blemish too.
The Bulls won 19 out of 27 games against the Knicks. It didn't matter if the Knicks won 50 games or 60 games each season, or who they rostered around Ewing, Jordan's Bulls would always have their number. The closest they got was in 1992, pushing the Eastern Conference Semi-finals to a game seven. The Bulls won by 29 points and Jordan scored 42 in the elimination game.
While the Cavs teams of the 90's may not have featured Hall of Fame name players like Barkley or Ewing, they were stacked in their own right. They were led by Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, and for a few years, a young Ron Harper.
Jordan actually kicks off his playoff dominance by leading the Bulls past the Cavs in Round 1 of the playoffs in 1988. That would be the first playoff series win in Jordan's career. He'd never look back. He'd play them three more series, where the Bulls would sweep the Cavs during their last battle.
Dominating one conference wasn't enough for the Bulls. They also met the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals two times, both resulting in Jordan killing the dreams of other Hall of Fame players on their quest to a championship. While Karl Malone and John Stockton would go down in history as one of the league's greatest duo's, even having two Hall of Famers on your roster in their primes, it wasn't enough.
To make matters worse, it was back-to-back finals that the Jazz would lose, and so far, they have yet to even make it back to the Western Conference Finals. Both of those Finals teams won 60+ games in the regular season too. Many teams throughout the 90's were close, and if it weren't for those pesky Bulls, they would have gotten away with it.
The Bulls also put a beating on other teams, but never as often as the ones above. After Jordan got over the hump of the Detroit Pistons, it was full steam ahead. The Bulls would do go on to have one of the most dominate playoff runs in the history of the league.