John Paxson

John Paxson's three-point field goal with 3.9 seconds left in Game 6 gave Chicago a 99-98 victory and its third straight championship.

The Phoenix Suns had won 50 or more games four straight years from 1988 to 1992 under veteran coach Cotton Fitzsimmons. The Suns made a major leap in 1988, trading for point guard Kevin Johnson and signing free agent Tom Chambers. With the development of young guards Jeff Hornacek and Dan Majerle, the Suns seemed assured of being in the Playoff picture for years to come. But just making the Playoffs wasn't what the Suns had in mind. Three days after the 1992 Finals ended, Phoenix announced it was trading Hornacek, starting forward Tim Perry and backup center Andrew Lang to Philadelphia for superstar Charles Barkley, who was about to star on the Dream Team that would win the gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games.

Immediately, the Suns were in a position to challenge for the NBA title. They won a league-best 62 games, survived a First Round scare against the Lakers, then defeated San Antonio to meet Seattle in the Western Conference Finals. The SuperSonics, a 12-deep unit with no top star, pushed the Suns to seven games before losing in Phoenix.

1992-93 Season in Review
The Bulls celebrate their third straight title.

The Bulls, who had set as a goal a third straight NBA Championship, coasted through the regular season with 57 wins, but lost the homecourt advantage to New York, which surged to a 60-22 record. After the Bulls and Knicks easily advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, the two teams split the first four games with the home team winning each time. Chicago won a pivotal Game 5 in New York and closed out the Knicks back in Chicago. Chicago won the first two games in Phoenix, prompting predictions of a sweep, but the Suns won two of three in Chicago before bowing out in Game 6 at home. The series would be remembered for the home team winning only one game, Chicago in Game 4. The Bulls became only the third team in NBA history to win as many as three consecutive Championships, joining Boston (1959-66) and Minneapolis (1952-54).

Michael Jordan had been warned by Dream Team teammate Magic Johnson before the season even began.

"If they (the Bulls) thought winning two in a row was hard," Magic said, "they'll find out that winning three in a row will be the hardest thing they ever do."

When Chicago appeared on the brink of becoming the third team to accomplish that feat, slogan writers worked overtime to dream up a suitable title.

"I think the motto that struck me the most was `Three the Hard Way,'" said victorious Bulls coach Phil Jackson when it all was over.