CHICAGO — Michael Jordan believes the Bulls championship dynasty ended a year too soon.
In ESPN’s final installment of “The Last Dance” docuseries Sunday night, Jordan got a chance to hear why Jerry Reinsdorf allowed the team to go their separate ways.
“We’ve never had any dialogue about why. I’ve made my own assumptions why.” remarked Jordan before watching a clip of the Bulls owner’s explanation.
Reinsdorf said: “After the sixth championship, things were beyond our control because it would have been suicidal at that point in their careers to bring back Pippen, Steve Kerr, Rodman, Ron Harper. Their market value, individually, was going to be too high.”
Despite Bulls GM Jerry Krause’s insistence that Phil Jackson wasn’t coming back regardless of the outcome of the season, Reinsdorf says he offered Jackson the job, but he didn’t want to go through a rebuild and coach a bad team.
“Had Michael been healthy and wanted to come back, I don’t doubt that Krause could have rebuilt another championship team in a couple years. It wasn’t going to happen instantly,” Reinsdorf explained.
“If you asked all the guys that won in ’98 – Steve Kerr, Jud Buechler, blah, blah, blah – ‘We’ll give you a one-year contract to try for seven,’ do you think they would have signed? Yes, they would have signed. Would I have signed for one year? Yes, I would have signed for one year.” Jordan said. “It’s maddening because I felt we could have won seven. I really believe that. We may not have, but not being able to try is something that I just can’t accept for whatever reason. I just can’t accept it.”
Instead, Jordan retired for a second time at the age of 35 after averaging 28 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists a game in his final season in Chicago.
The Bulls didn’t make it back to the playoffs the next six years.