Chicago Bulls: 3 most problematic players for ‘The Last Dance’ team

Chicago Bulls (Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images) /
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(Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images) /

3. John Stockton/Karl Malone, Utah Jazz

The Jazz presented all sorts of problems for the Bulls during the late 1990’s. And the two players in particular that gave Jordan and the Bulls fits in 1997 and 1998 were the eventual Hall-of-Fame duo that featured big man Karl Malone and point guard John Stockton.

During the 1997-98 regular season, the Jazz were the only opponent to sweep the Bulls outright. They only faced each other twice, but the Jazz triumphed on both occasions. In the two regular season meetings with the Bulls, Malone would average 32.5 points per game, 9.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, one block, and one steal. He managed an offensive rating of 120 and a defensive rating of 105.

Malone was also stellar, especially in the last two games, against the Bulls. He had two games with more than 30 points. And all but one of the games during the 1998 NBA Finals saw him either post a double-double, at least 20 points, or both.

Meanwhile, Stockton mostly took a backseat to the scoring and rebounding of Malone during the two regular season meetings with the Bulls. But he did still post an offensive rating of 122, defensive rating of 104, while averaging 14.0 assists per game and 2.5 steals.

In the NBA Finals between the Jazz and Bulls, Stockton was more inconsistent, but still had some great games. His assist rate was still a sparkling estimated 50 percent or better in four of the six games in the finals series. And he had a box plus/minus rating of better than 5.5 in four of those six games. But his box plus/minus rating was worse than -6.0 in two of the games of that series, which showed how inconsistent it was for Stockton.

If there were an order to this list, then the duo of Malone and Stockton would clearly be at the top. But there isn’t an order since we’re just taking a brief look at some of the biggest hurdles, in terms of particular opponents and star players, that the Bulls had to face during the 1997-98 regular season and playoff run.