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 credit should read DAN LEVINE/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo credit should read DAN LEVINE/AFP via Getty Images) /

1. Gary Payton, Seattle SuperSonics

A name that deserves credit for what he did on both ends of the floor against the Bulls from 1996-1998 was the former Seattle SuperSonics Hall-of-Fame guard Gary Payton (A.K.A. “The Glove”). The Bulls took down the SuperSonics in six games to win the 1996 NBA Championship, which was the first for Jordan after his return from his stint playing baseball.

It is often overlooked how good the SuperSonics still were during the 1997-98 season. They did play second fiddle to the Jazz in the West, but both teams were stellar and among the most talented in the NBA at the time. The SuperSonics still finished up with a record of 61-21 in the 1997-98 regular season. They were ousted by the Lakers in the second round of the 1998 playoffs in a short five-game series, though.

During the 1997-98 season, the Bulls and SuperSonics would only meet twice. One tilt went in favor of the SuperSonics, by a slim one-point margin. And the Bulls got the win in the other meeting, by a 10-point margin.

Nonetheless, Payton was still very solid for the SuperSonics in those two meetings with the Bulls. He averaged 22.0 points per game, 10.5 assists, and 6.0 rebounds, with a 121 offensive rating and 58.8 true shooting percentage in those two outings.

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Payton registered a box plus/minus rating better than 5.0 in each of his two regular season meetings with the Bulls. That went along with a stellar assist rate of better than 45 percent and a game score hovering around 20 on each occasion. The 1997-98 Pacific Division Champions didn’t play the Bulls much in The Last Dance season, but they were still a tough out when they did meet.