‘Sweet Sixcess’ at 20: The anniversary of the Bulls’ last NBA title

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SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 14: Phil Jackson of the Chicago Bulls celebrates after winning Game Six of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz on June 14, 1998 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Utah Jazz 4-2 to win the 1998 NBA Championship. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1988 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Throughout the month of June, there are a number of anniversaries that can bring a smile to a Bulls fan’s face. You can thank the 1990s dynasty for that.

Yet one stands out among the rest – June 14, 1998.

That’s because it was the last one in a memorable run in which the Bulls captured six championships in eight seasons, twice winning the NBA title three years-in-a-row. The unpresidented success began in 1991 and concluded in 1998, 20 years ago on Thursday to be exact.

This markes two decades since the Bulls were last an NBA champion, having defeated the Utah Jazz 87-86 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at what was then called the Delta Center.

It remains the last championship won by the organization.

The run was fittingly capped by Michael Jordan, who knocked down the go-ahead, game-winning shot with over five seconds to go to provide the final margin of victory. It was the last of his 45 points on the evening and the final make of his remarkable Bulls career, which ended with his second retirement in January of 1999.

As it would turn out, this game was indeed the “last dance” for the dynasty, which slowly broke up over the coming months following Phil Jackson’s departure from the team. Jordan’s retirement, the trade of Scottie Pippen to the Houston Rockets, the release of Dennis Rodman along with a few other departures that sent the Bulls quickly into a rebuild.

It would be seven years before the team would make the playoffs again, and only once in 2011 have they made the Eastern Conference Finals. Yet then the Bulls only one a single game against the Heat, never coming close to the success they had 20 years ago today.

That’s what makes this contest so special. It was one of many back then, but it’s the last time the franchise would taste victory for a few decades. As the team continues another rebuild, many wonder when it will happen again, while looking back at June 14th with a smile from when it did.


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