Recent words from Steve Kerr shows that he doesn’t think Michael Jordan could’ve won eight titles with the Chicago Bulls if he stayed in the NBA.
In a recent series of quotes and interviews that former Chicago Bulls sharpshooter and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr gave, he seems to have cast a shadow of doubt about what could’ve been with all those dynasty teams in the 1990’s. Apparently Kerr doesn’t believe that the Bulls would’ve won more NBA Titles if all-time great shooting guard Michael Jordan stuck around and didn’t try his hand playing baseball in the mid-1990’s.
The original article that was released in which Kerr opened up on his thoughts about what would’ve happen if Jordan never left the NBA to play baseball came from Michael Lee and David Aldridge with The Athletic (paid content).
Here’s what that piece from Lee and Aldridge at The Athletic published on March 19 had to say on the matter regarding Jordan’s leave from the NBA.
"Sometimes people say to me, ‘If Michael had stayed, you guys would’ve won eight in a row.’ That’s the most preposterous thing I have ever heard. ““To me, the reason we won the second three was because he got away and recharged his batteries… He needed it, desperately. And that’s why he left. He was just burned out. There were all of these theories: Did David Stern tell him you can’t play? Like, yeah, that would be very smart – the greatest player ever and we’re going to punish him for gambling or whatever? What are we even talking about? That’s dumb. All of those conspiracy theories were dumb. Bottom line was, he was fried. Going through a lot with his father’s death. Just getting away for two years, recharged his batteries and got him ready for the next three."
K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago also recently released a piece on Kerr’s take on Jordan’s leave from the NBA. He took a more broad approach on the subject, looking at both sides of the argument for who won the title while Jordan was away and how draining the game can be. That is a valid argument in this debate.
"Understandable that Olajuwon would come down on that side of the debate. Even hypothesizing that Jordan’s Bulls could have completed an ‘eight-peat’ is inherently dismissive of Olajuwon’s Rockets, which won both the titles that separated the Bulls’ three-peats. In the feature, Kenny Smith added his voice to Olajuwon’s, saying unequivocally that Houston had the better team that year.And they have a point: Jordan did return in advance of the 1994-95 playoffs and led the Bulls to a 13-4 finish to the regular season before falling in six games to Orlando — led by a young Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway — in the Eastern semis.Some might attribute that show of mortality to Jordan still finding his footing back in basketball. Jordan’s adversaries have no reason to address that argument, and rightfully so."
If the Bulls made the NBA Finals in those two years while MJ was playing baseball, they likely would’ve faced the Houston Rockets. The Rockets were a very talented team, with numerous eventual Hall-of-Famers,. But the Bulls still made solid playoff runs, all things considered, without Jordan in the fold. Scottie Pippen was still a superstar capable of carrying the Bulls pretty far.
The team that represented the Eastern Conference in the 1994 NBA Finals was the New York Knicks. They lost to the Rockets in seven games in the finals. Meanwhile, the Jordan-less Bulls were knocked out by the Knicks in seven games in the second round of the playoffs. It’s hard to imagine that having Jordan wouldn’t have pushed the Bulls over the top in 1994.
The 1995 NBA Finals are a different story, though, since the Orlando Magic were rolling with Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway and knocked out the Bulls in six games in the second round. That 1995 playoff run was much tougher for the Bulls than the previous year.
Jordan would wind up winning six rings, all with the Bulls. One of those six came in 1996, during the famous “I’m back” season. Kerr would win five rings, mixed in during his time with the Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs.