|Record 69–13 (.841)|
Televisions FSN Chicago, WGN-TV
|Head coach Phil Jackson|
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf
Arena United Center
|Place Division: 1st (Central)
Conference: 1st (Eastern)|
Playoff finish NBA Champions (Defeated Jazz 4-2)
Similar 1997–98 Chicago Bulls sea, 1995–96 Chicago Bulls sea, 1990–91 Chicago Bulls sea, 1996–97 NBA season, 1985–86 Chicago Bulls sea
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Bulls' 31st season in the National Basketball Association. During the offseason, the Bulls signed free agent Robert Parish, who won championships with the Boston Celtics in the 1980s. The Bulls, on the backs of recording another first-place finish in their division and conference, repeated as NBA champions. The Bulls were led by Michael Jordan, rebound ace Dennis Rodman and perennial All-Star small forward Scottie Pippen, with the latter two (Jordan and Pippen) both being selected for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. Other notable players on the club's roster that year were clutch-specialist Croatian Toni Kukoc, and sharp-shooting point guard Steve Kerr.
- East First Round
- East Conference Semifinals
- East Conference Finals
- Game 1
- Game 2
- Game 3
- Game 4
- Game 5 The Flu Game
- Game 6
- Awards and honors
The Bulls got off to a fast start winning their first twelve games, while posting a 42–6 record before the All-Star break. Late in the season, they signed free agent Brian Williams, who would play in the final nine games of the regular season. Though, the Bulls look to make history against the New York Knicks in their final regular season game of the year, Pippen missed a game-winning 3 and they finished with a 69–13 record, just missing out on becoming the first team in NBA history to have back-to-back 70 wins seasons. Jordan led the league in scoring once again averaging 29.6 points per game.
In the playoffs, the Bulls would sweep the Washington Bullets in three straight games in the first round. In the semifinals, they defeated the Atlanta Hawks in five games, despite losing Game 2 at the United Center 103–95. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they defeated the Miami Heat in five games to advance to the NBA Finals, where they defeated the Utah Jazz in six games for their fifth title in seven years. Following the season, Parish retired and Williams went off to sign with the Detroit Pistons.
East First Round
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (8) Washington Bullets Last Playoff Meeting: Not available (first playoff series)
East Conference Semifinals
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (4) Atlanta Hawks Last Playoff Meeting: 1993 Eastern Conference First Round (Chicago won 3-0)
East Conference Finals
(1) Chicago Bulls vs. (2) Miami Heat Last Playoff Meeting: 1996 Eastern Conference First Round (Chicago won 3-0)
The Finals were played using a 2-3-2 site format, where the first two and last two games are held at the team with home court advantage's (Chicago's) home court (United Center).
Sunday, June 1, at the United Center
Wednesday, June 4, at the United Center
Friday, June 6, at the Delta Center
Sunday, June 8, at the Delta Center
Game 5: The Flu Game
Wednesday, June 11, at the Delta Center
Game 5, often referred to as "The Flu Game", was one of Michael Jordan's most memorable. Just 24 hours earlier, on June 10, 1997, Michael Jordan woke up nauseated and sweating profusely. He hardly had the strength to sit up in bed and was diagnosed with a stomach virus or food poisoning. The Bulls trainers told Jordan that there was no way he could play in the game. The Jazz had just won two in a row to tie the series, and Chicago needed their leader in this critical swing game. Against all odds, Jordan rose from bed at 3:00 p.m., just in time for the 6:00 tip-off at the Delta Center.
Jordan was visibly weak and pale as he stepped onto the court for Game Five. At first, he displayed no energy whatsoever, and John Stockton, along with reigning MVP Karl Malone, quickly led the Jazz to a 16-point lead. But in the second quarter, Jordan started to sink shots despite lacking his usual explosive speed and hardly being able to concentrate. He scored 17 points in the quarter as the Bulls hit the front before halftime.
Luc Longley and Scottie Pippen did their best to keep the Bulls in the game while Jordan was fatigued again in the third. But Jordan turned it on again, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, including a clutch rebound and three-point shot with the game tied and under a minute left that put the Bulls up by three points. Chicago held on for a narrow victory.
Jordan finished the game with 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block. Malone was the highest-scoring Jazz player with 19 points but suffered from some dreadful shooting. Jordan stayed on the court for 44 minutes, resting for only four minutes while being perpetually at the brink of fainting. With only a few seconds remaining and the game finally at hand, Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen's arms.
Friday, June 13, at the United Center
Michael Jordan was not fully recovered from the flu, but was feeling much better and led the Bulls with 39 points. In the third quarter Michael Jordan dunked after a steal, bringing the crowd to its feet. The Bulls trailed by 9 points early in the fourth quarter but went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes when Steve Kerr hit a 3-pointer, but the Jazz would regain the lead. In the final minutes, Jordan's fadeaway on the baseline put the Bulls up by 3, before Bryon Russell hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 86-86. The two teams would fail to score on their next possessions. With 28 seconds left after Shandon Anderson missed a reverse layup, the Jazz expected Jordan to take the final shot. Instead, Jordan passed off to Steve Kerr, who hit a shot with 5 seconds left to send the United Center crowd into a frenzy. The Jazz looked for one final shot to stay alive, but Scottie Pippen made a massive defensive play as he knocked away Bryon Russell's inbound pass intended for Shandon Anderson and was able to pass the ball over to Toni Kukoc, who dunked the final 2 points of the game to bring the Finals to an end. Afterwards, Jordan was named the NBA Finals MVP.