Michael Jordan already had proven he could reclaim his position as the NBA's leading scorer after nearly two seasons away from the game, and in doing so he had led the Chicago Bulls to a 72-10 record, the best in NBA history. But without the ultimate prize, an NBA Championship, his comeback would not be complete.

That was the personal challenge facing Jordan as he led the Bulls into the NBA Finals against the Seattle SuperSonics, a team led by All-Stars Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and Detlef Schrempf that was making its first appearance in the title series since 1979, when the Sonics beat Washington for the crown. From a team perspective, Chicago knew that to fall short of the championship would take the lustre off its magnificent season and negate the Bulls' claim to being the best team in NBA history.

The Bulls, who lost just one game in breezing past Miami, New York and Orlando in the first three rounds of the playoffs, swept the first two games of the Finals at home. They then took a commanding 3-0 lead with a 108-86 victory at Seattle's Key Arena as Jordan poured in a series-high 36 points.

No team has come back from a 3-0 deficit to win an NBA Playoff series, but the Sonics were not about to give up on their home floor. With Kemp leading the way they gamely fought back, winning the next two games 107-86 and 89-78 to send the series back to Chicago for a Game 6 that nobody had expected would be necessary.

But that's as close as Seattle would come. Behind the all-around brilliance of Jordan, who had 22 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists, and the tenacity of Dennis Rodman, who grabbed 19 rebounds, the Bulls easily captured Game 6 at the United Center 87-75. Chicago had its fourth title in six years, and Jordan, who fell to the floor in tears as the final buzzer sounded, was named Finals MVP for the fourth time.

"The historians will decide our place among the greatest teams," said Jordan, who averaged 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists in the Finals. "But we certainly accomplished everything we set out to do."