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1996 NBA Finals
Team Coach Wins
Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4
Seattle SuperSonics George Karl 2
Dates: June 5 – June 16
MVP: Michael Jordan
(Chicago Bulls)
Television: NBC (U.S.)
Announcers: Marv Albert, Matt Guokas, and Bill Walton
Game 5: Game 5:
Game 6: Game 6:
Hall of Famers: Michael Jordan (2009)
Phil Jackson (2007)
Eastern Finals: Bulls defeat Magic, 4–0
Western Finals: Supersonics defeat Jazz, 4–3
 < 1995 NBA Finals 1997 > 

The 1996 NBA Finals was the championship series of the 1995-96 NBA season of the National Basketball Association. The Seattle SuperSonics (64–18) of the Western Conference took on the Chicago Bulls (72–10) of the Eastern Conference, with the Bulls holding home court advantage. The series was played under a best-of-seven format.

Chicago won the series 4 games to 2, a fitting conclusion after a record breaking 72–10 standing during the regular season. Michael Jordan was named Finals MVP.

NBC Sports used Ahmad Rashad (Bulls sideline) and Hannah Storm (SuperSonics sideline).



In the playoffs, the Bulls lost only three games in four series, defeating Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, head coach George Karl and their Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals to win the NBA Championship. The Bulls won the first three games of the best-of-seven series, but the Sonics rallied back to win the next two at home. Eventually, the more experienced Bulls proved to be too much as the Bulls captured their fourth title (after a two-year hiatus). For his performance in the series against Seattle, Michael Jordan was named the Finals MVP.


Chicago Bulls

Michael Jordan decided to return to basketball in 1995, after a short stint as a baseball player. Although he failed to lead the Bulls to the Finals in that year, he returned to pre-retirement form the next year and led the Chicago Bulls to one of the most memorable seasons ever. Freshly motivated by the playoff defeat against the Orlando Magic, the Bulls trained aggressively in preparation for the 1995–96 season.

In the offseason, the Bulls lost B.J. Armstrong in the expansion draft, but Bulls general manager Jerry Krause pulled off a masterful deal by trading Will Perdue to the San Antonio Spurs for notorious rebounder Dennis Rodman, who had won the past four rebounding titles.

That year, strengthened by the addition of Dennis Rodman, the Bulls dominated the league. With a lineup of Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Luc Longley, and perhaps the league's best bench in Toni Kukoč, Steve Kerr, Jason Caffey, Bill Wennington and guard Randy Brown, the Bulls posted one of the best single-season improvements in league history and the best single-season record. They moved from 47–35 to 72–10, which remains the best record in the league for an 82-game season. Jordan won his eighth scoring title, and Rodman his fifth straight rebounding title, while Kerr led the league in three-point shooting. Michael Jordan won the league's regular season and All-Star Game MVP awards.

Jerry Krause won the executive of the year award, Phil Jackson won the coach of the year award, and Toni Kukoč was the sixth man of the year. Both Scottie Pippen and Michael Jordan made the all-NBA first team, and Jordan, Pippen, and Dennis Rodman all made the all-defensive first team, the only time three players from the same team had done so.

The Chicago Bulls had no problems during the playoffs. After demolishing Miami by over 15 points per game in the first round, they would go 4–1 against the Knicks in the semifinals to get revenge and sweep the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Seattle SuperSonics

In the 1994 playoffs, the first seeded Seattle (63–19) lost 3 games to 2 to the eighth seeded Nuggets (42–40). Seattle would once again be upset in the 1995 playoffs against the L.A. Lakers. After two first round defeats, Seattle would make a major come back in the 1996 season that would give them the name Sonic Boom.

Led by Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp, the SuperSonics went 64–18, leading the Western Conference, and setting the record for highest single-season win total in Supersonics history. Seattle blew through Sacramento in the first round; 3 games to 1. It also had no problems with defending champion Houston, sweeping them. However, their playoff troubles re-emerged after dropping two games to the Utah Jazz to bring the series to 3–3. However, Seattle took game 7 and won what was one of the most exciting series of the 1996 playoffs. Seattle would finally go to its first NBA Final game since 1979.

1996 NBA Finals Roster

1996 Chicago Bulls

Head Coach:Phil Jackson
Michael Jordan | Scottie Pippen | Dennis Rodman | Toni Kukoč | Luc Longley | Steve Kerr | Ron Harper | Bill Wennington | Jack Haley | Jud Buechler | Dickey Simpkins | James Edwards | Jason Caffey | Randy Brown | John Salley | Devin Miller

1996 Seattle Supersonics

Head Coach:George Karl
Gary Payton | Shawn Kemp | Detlef Schrempf | Hersey Hawkins | Sam Perkins | Vincent Askew | Ervin Johnson | Frank Brickowski | Nate McMillan | David Wingate | Sherell Ford | Eric Snow | Steve Scheffler |

Series scoring summary

The following scoring summary is written in a line score format, except that the quarter numbers are replaced by game numbers.

Team Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Wins
Seattle (West) 90 88 86 107 89 75 2
Chicago (East) 107 92 108 86 78 87 4


  • Game 1 – June 5, Wednesday @ Chicago, Chicago 107, Seattle 90: Chicago leads series 1–0
  • Game 2 – June 7, Friday @ Chicago, Chicago 92, Seattle 88: Chicago leads series 2–0
  • Game 3 – June 9, Sunday @ Seattle, Chicago 108, Seattle: 86: Chicago leads series 3–0
  • Game 4 – June 12, Wednesday @ Seattle, Seattle 107, Chicago 86: Chicago leads series 3–1
  • Game 5 – June 14, Friday @ Seattle, Seattle 89, Chicago 78: Chicago leads series 3–2
  • Game 6 – June 16, Sunday @ Chicago, Chicago 87, Seattle 75: Chicago wins series 4–2

The Finals were played in the 2–3–2 NBA Finals format, where the first two and last two games were played in Chicago and the 3 middle games were played in Seattle. This format has been in place since 1985.

Game 1

Wednesday, June 5, at the United Center

Although Chicago was not playing well offensively, they were able to compensate with superb defense. Chicago was leading only by 2 at the end of the third quarter, however in the final quarter shots by Toni Kukoč and 2 key steals by Ron Harper clinched the Bulls a win.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Seattle 18 30 29 13 90
Chicago 24 29 26 28 107

Game 2

Friday, June 7, at the United Center

Game two was fortunate for Seattle in the first quarter, with a 27–23 lead. However Seattle would once again lose the lead. Despite attempts at catching up by Gary Payton in the second quarter, Toni Kukoč clinched the Bulls' win in the third quarter, with a final score of 92 to 88. In the victory, Dennis Rodman tied an NBA Finals record with 11 offensive rebounds.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Seattle 27 18 20 23 88
Chicago 23 23 30 16 92

Game 3

Sunday, June 9, at the KeyArena

First game at Seattle. Even though Seattle had the home-court advantage, they would still be blown out by 22 points.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Chicago 34 28 13 33 108
Seattle 16 22 23 25 86

Game 4

Wednesday, June 12, at the KeyArena

Seattle did not want to suffer the ignominy of a sweep. Going into this game, the SuperSonics were looking to rebound from the deficit. They succeeded with a 107–86 win over the Bulls. The series would now go to five games. The Sonics were helped by the return of team captain Nate McMillan whose presence entering the game brought the KeyArena crowd to its feet.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Chicago 21 11 31 23 86
Seattle 25 28 31 23 107

Game 5

Friday, June 14, at the KeyArena

Seattle would once again deny the Bulls the championship, stretching the series to six games. Payton had this to say: "We feel great. We knew we could play with this team. It just took too long. We should have come with this a little earlier." [1] Shawn Kemp's performance in this game was considered by many to be his best in a Seattle uniform.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Chicago 18 24 18 18 78
Seattle 18 25 19 27 89

Game 6

Sunday, June 16, at the United Center

Chicago wins the series 4 games to 2 on Father's Day, three years after Jordan's own father James was murdered. The victory was partly due to the stellar performance of the Bulls power forward Dennis Rodman, who repeated his Game 2 performance of 11 offensive rebounds, tying his own NBA Finals record.

Team 1 2 3 4 Tot.
Seattle 18 20 20 17 75
Chicago 24 21 22 20 87


*Rodman had not yet won the award when he faced Cooper in these series.
    • Gary Payton and Michael Jordan – who are the last two guards to have won the award – guarded each other throughout most of the series, marking the first time that two Defensive Players of the Year had guarded each other during a finals series. These two players also share the record for most NBA All-Defensive First Team selections, with 9.
  • The 1991 Bulls' run through the Eastern Conference Playoffs was identical to the run of the '96 Bulls. The '91 team swept Round 1, won the semifinals series 4–1 and won the conference finals 4–0. And the only loss in both conference semis was in Game 3. The '91 Bulls beat the Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Detroit Pistons in that order.
  • This was the first of Gary Payton's three NBA finals appearances with three different teams.
  • This Finals mark a brand new wordmark logo, and trophy logo on players uniforms.

See also

Notes and references

External links


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