Top 20 moments of Bulls' 1992-93 championship season

Twenty years after John Paxson’s go ahead three late in Game 6 of the NBA Finals helped propel the Bulls past the Phoenix Suns for the franchise’s third straight NBA championship, Sam Smith of takes a look back at the top 20 moments from the 19

1992-93 Chicago Bulls: 20th anniversary of 1st three-peat

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Chicago Bulls’ third consecutive NBA championship. It wasn’t, perhaps, as famous as the first in 1991, or the fourth when the team won a season record 72 games. Championships may be a little like your children. You love them all, and it’s difficult to pick a favorite.

But that 1992-93 championship was special. That’s because it officially made the Bulls an NBA dynasty. Only three franchises in NBA history have won at least three consecutive championships, the Celtics, the Lakers, both in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and the Bulls. And when the Bulls finally did it in 1993—before doing it again in 1996, 1997 and 1998—no team had won three consecutive titles in almost 30 years, not since the great Celtics’ dynasty of the 1960’s. It’s often said if it’s worth doing, it should be hard.

Scottie Pippen
Pippen and the Bulls lost their first two games against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in the Eastern Conference Finals, but didn't lose to New York again as they won the series 4-2.

(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

The 1992-93 title was in many ways the most difficult after two grueling, if wonderful, seasons that followed the disappointments of the previous years against the Detroit Pistons. With the Dream Team Summer Olympics added for Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, it had also become a drain on the players.

In some respects, it was the catalyst for the first retirement of Michael Jordan. It also was the only one of the six in which the Bulls didn’t have the best record in the Eastern Conference.

Plus, a transition in the core of the team was beginning. B.J. Armstrong took over as a starter for John Paxson, who would retire after the following season. Bill Cartwright would miss 19 games with injuries and then play limited minutes the following season like Paxson and mostly be replaced as a starter.

It was also the most difficult playoffs in some respects. Although the Bulls lost more games in the playoffs in other of the title series, especially in 1991-92 with a 15-7 overall record, 1992-93 was the only season when the Bulls fell behind two games in a playoff series. That was the Eastern Conference finals to the Knicks.

So if 1992-93 was not artistic, it was gritty, which was just as meaningful for a team coming from Chicago. Here’s a look at the highlights of that 1992-93 championship season.

Horace Grant
Playing in his sixth professional season, starting power forward Horace Grant averaged 13.2 points and 9.5 rebounds for the 1992-93 Bulls. (Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images)

20. June 18, 1993. Michael Jordan scores 41 points and leads the Bulls with seven rebounds, seven assists and two blocks. But it is not enough to clinch the third championship in Chicago as the Bulls lead is cut to three games to two. The Bulls have to return to Phoenix to wrap up the three-peat with John Paxson’s winning three-pointer. It would be Jordan’s final game in the Chicago Stadium as the Bulls prepare to move to the United Center for the 1993-94 season.

19. Nov. 20, 1992. The Bulls lose in overtime, but Michael Jordan has the Hollywood hit of the season with 54 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. It is the most points Jordan ever scored against the Lakers.

Michael Jordan
On May 31, 1993, Michael Jordan scored 54 points as the Bulls evened their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Knicks at 2-2.

(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

18. Feb. 21, 1993. Michael Jordan carries an overmatched Eastern squad with 30 points (no other Eastern player scores 20) and a team high five assists, though the East All-Stars lose in overtime to the West All-Stars 135-132 as John Stockton and Karl Malone share MVP honors. Jordan also adds four steals.

17. B.J. Armstrong scores a team-high 27 points to lead the Bulls and outduel Reggie Miller, who scores 26. The Bulls are in the midst of winning six of seven on the road on the way to 26 road wins to again lead the Eastern Conference in road wins with 26. Armstrong would hit two of four threes as he went on to lead the NBA in three point shooting that season at 45.3 percent.

16. May 4, 1993. Michael Jordan scores 39 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists in outdueling Dominique Wilkins to lead the Bulls to the Game 3 first round victory for the 3-0 sweep over the Atlanta Hawks. Jordan had 35 in Game 1 in a 24-point rout to start off the third championship playoff run in style.

15. Jan. 16, 1993. Michael Jordan scores his second most points ever in a game with 64 points in one of the most entertaining games of the season, a back and forth 128-124 loss in Orlando as future Bulls coach Scott Skiles lead the Magic with 31 points and Shaquille O’Neal has 29 points and 24 rebounds. Jordan also adds five steals.

14. March 15, 1993. The Bulls kick off their fifth of six winning streaks of at least five games as B.J. Armstrong scores a career-high 28 points in a Bulls come from behind fourth quarter win over the Clippers. Horace Grant adds 15 points and 17 rebounds, including 10 offensive, as the Bulls close in on another Central Division title.

13. Jan. 26, 1993. Starting for the injured Bill Cartwright, Stacey King leads the Bulls with 19 points and 11 rebounds. King also has three assists. It is the second game of a nine-game Western conference road trip as the Bulls finish 6-3. King leads eight Bulls scoring in double figures.

Scottie Pippen
At the age of 27, Scottie Pippen averaged 20.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 5.6 assists and 2.2 steals per game during the 1993 NBA Playoffs.

(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)

12. Dec. 26, 1992. In the midst of a season long equaling seven game winning streak, the Bulls win in Indiana against Reggie Miller’s Pacers as Horace Grant establishes career highs with 30 points and 20 rebounds, 11 offensive. Scottie Pippen adds four steals, seven assists and eight rebounds.

11. Nov. 22, 1992. In a classic shootout which would be a harbinger of the great NBA Finals series and Michael Jordan’s scoring prowess and domination of elite defender Dan Majerle, Jordan leads the Bulls with 40 points in a 128-111 win over the Suns. Later in the season in Chicago, the Suns win 113-109 though Jordan scores 44 points. Scottie Pippen adds 19 points and 10 assists, while three Suns score at least 23 points. John Paxson shoots eight of 12 in the two games to presage his Finals heroics.

10. April 2, 1993. Michael Jordan scores 40 points in a victory over a playoff bound Nets team. It is Jordan’s fourth game of at least 40 points in the team’s last six with games of 43, 44 and 47. Jordan goes on to win his seventh straight NBA scoring title to tie Wilt Chamberlain’s record for consecutive scoring championships.

9. Dec. 23, 1992. Michael Jordan scores 57 points in a victory over the Washington Bullets to set up his big Christmas Day game against the Knicks. Jordan hits six three pointers and also records 10 assists, accounting for about 80 points in the Bulls’ 107-98 second half come from behind victory. It is Jordan’s seventh highest regular season scoring game and seventh most in franchise history.

8. Dec. 25, 1992. Michael Jordan scores 42 points in the big holiday matchup between the two rivals of the era after the Bulls had beaten the Knicks in seven games in the previous season’s conference semifinals. This revenge win comes after an earlier season loss in New York as the two teams remain on course for a classic playoff series. This would be the only season among their six championships when the Bulls didn’t have the conference’s best record, which went to the Knicks.

7. June 4, 1993. Michael Jordan scores a team-high 25 points and also leads the Bulls in assists, steals and blocks in a 96-88 victory to knock the favored Knicks out of the playoffs in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Bulls’ win is their fourth straight after falling behind 2-0 and eliminates the Knicks, who were the only Eastern Conference team to win 60 games in the regular season.

John Paxson
In Game 6 on June 20 in Phoenix, John Paxson hit a three pointer with 3.9 seconds left and then Horace Grant blocked Kevin Johnson to wrap up the Bulls' third consecutive title.

(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)

6. May 31, 1993. Michael Jordan scores 54 points to even the Eastern Conference finals with the Knicks at 2-2. After being dunked on by John Starks to end Game 2 in New York and fall behind 2-0, Jordan does virtually all his scoring against Starks, including six of nine three pointers.

5. June 21, 1993. An estimated record 150,000 fans come to Grant Park, many there since the previous evening, for the Bulls three-peat championship celebration. Two years after Scott Williams declares, “Real men do it twice” following the first title in 1991, Phil Jackson declares, “Three sure is nice.”

4. May 17, 1993. It’s The Shot II as Michael Jordan effectively ends the Cavaliers’ hopes of the 80’s and 90’s with a fadeaway as the buzzer sounded for a 103-101 victory and 4-0 sweep in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Dubbed the team of the 90’s by Magic Johnson in 1988, the Cavs would not win a playoff series for the next 13 years. It is the fourth time in six seasons the Bulls have eliminated the Cavs from the playoffs. Jordan finishes with 31 points and nine rebounds as he applies the final breakup to that once promising Cavs team.

3. June 16, 1993. Michael Jordan scores 55 points, tying Rick Barry for the second most points ever in an NBA Finals game as Jordan goes on to break Barry’s record for most points in a six-game Finals series. The 111-106 Bulls win comes after the Suns’ triple overtime win in Chicago in Game 3 to cut the Bulls series lead to 2-1. Leading by a point with 30 seconds left, Jordan drives and is fouled for a three-point play to clinch the win against Charles Barkley’s triple-double with 32 points.

2. June 2, 1993. It’s the block among Michael Jordan, Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen on Charles Smith that stuffs several Smith attempts at a layup in the last seconds to preserve a 97-94 victory and 3-2 series lead over the favored Knicks. Jordan gets a triple-double with 29 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds and is supported by Scottie Pippen’s 28 points.

1. June 20, 1993. It’s a three for the third championship. John Paxson hits a three pointer with 3.9 seconds left and then Horace Grant blocks Kevin Johnson to wrap up the Bulls' third consecutive title. Before Paxson’s three, only Michael Jordan had scored for the Bulls in the fourth quarter as the Suns seems about to send the series to a Game 7 in Phoenix. It is Paxson’s second three of the game as the Bulls are 10 of 14 on threes in the game. Jordan leads all scorers with 33 points to average 41 points in the series.

Bulls celebrate their third championship
Jordan led all scorers with 33 points in the decisive Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to average 41 points in the series, breaking Rick Barry’s record for most points in a six-game Finals series as the Bulls celebrated their three-peat.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)


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