Chicago Bulls: The 5 biggest “what-ifs” in history

PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 30: Joakim Noah
PHOENIX, AZ - JANUARY 30: Joakim Noah /
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(Photo by Lou Capozzola/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo by Lou Capozzola/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2. What if Michael Jordan never retired the first time?

Following the third Bulls Championship of the first three-peat in 1993, Michael Jordan was at the height of his powers. Leading the team to the title averaging 35.1 points per game in the Playoffs, it seemed as though Jordan and the Bulls would not be beaten in the foreseeable future – that notion was quickly squashed when Jordan abruptly retired in the offseason:

"“I’ve reached the pinnacle…I always said to the people that have known me that when I lose that sense of motivation and that sense that I can prove something, it’s time for me to leave…”"

Jordan removing himself from the league opened up the doors for a number of other contenders to finally be able to compete again – the Houston Rockets took home the trophy in 1994, led by arguably the greatest center of all time in Hakeem Olajuwon. Despite Jordan returning to the Bulls halfway through the 1994-1995 season, the rust was evident. The Bulls lost to the up-and-coming Orlando Magic in the second round of the playoffs and conceded the title to the Houston Rockets again.

The rest is history – the Bulls elevated to another level in the 1995-1996 season and won 72 games, as well as another Championship. Another two would follow before Jordan walked away from the game a second time…

…what if Jordan never retired? Had he continued through, would the Bulls have won 8 straight Championships and decimated an entire decade worth of NBA opponents? Or would the wear and tear on his body add up and slow him down in the later years, preventing future Championships? We’ll never know…