The Chicago Bulls Dynasty might be one of the best in all of professional sports. But after a certain point, it becomes easy to look at and appreciate the six championship banners without ever thinking about the crucial moments that enabled the Bulls to hang them from the rafters.
The Bulls' history is so rich that any list like the one I am about to present is bound to ignite a debate which would rage on forever.
Allow me to dive headlong into the flames. Here are the top 10 moments in Bulls playoff history.
1989 Eastern Conference Finals vs. Detroit—Just the second time Jordan's Bulls had made it out of the first round of the postseason.
Jordan steals a Bill Laimbeer pass, saves it from going out of bounds, gets the return pass and hits a shot while simultaneously getting fouled and doing a 360 with his back to the basket.
(Fast Forward to 3:07)
This play is the most memorable of what was an unbelievable series.
With the score tied at 123 with just 40 seconds left in triple overtime, Noah steals a Paul Pierce pass, takes off down the court, and beats Pierce to the hoop with a thundering jam that also results in Pierce's sixth foul of the game.
1992 NBA Finals Game One—Michael Jordan and the defending champion Bulls host Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trailblazers. NBA records are set.
Jordan broke the record for most points in a first half in the playoffs, once held by Elgin Baylor (Michael had 35, Baylor had 33). This included six first-half three-pointers (also a record). After the sixth, Jordan looks over to the sideline and gives a shoulder shrug, as if to say, "Even I don't know how I'm doing this."
Fast forward to 4:20 for the Shrug
1991 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs, First Round, Game Three—En route to title No. 1.
New York has never liked Michael Jordan. This is one of the reasons why. Jordan breaks the press with a lob pass to Paxson, gets the ball back, spins around two defenders and throws down a baseline jam over Patrick Ewing.
This play doesn't happen unless the Bulls take the lead first, but more on that later.
Game Six of the 1993 NBA Finals, the Bulls are just seconds away from their first three-peat. Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, drives into the lane, when Horace Grant, goggles and all, comes up from behind and swats it away.
Let the celebration begin.
If you watch NBA basketball, then you've seen this play. The best non-game winner on the list comes from the Game Two of the 1991 NBA Finals.
If I tried to describe this play, I wouldn't be doing Marv Albert justice, so just watch, listen and enjoy.
1989 NBA Playoffs; Fifth and deciding game of the First Round between the Bulls and the Cleveland Cavaliers—A shot so famous that it is simply dubbed: "The Shot".
With the Bulls trailing 100-99 with just seconds to play, Jordan takes the inbound pass and hits a shot from the free throw line with no time left to win the Bulls the game and the series.
Jim Durham's classic call from the Bulls' radio broadcast will live on forever:
"The inbound pass comes in to Jordan. Here's Michael at the foul line, the shot on Ehlo...good! The Bulls win! They win! They beat Cleveland Cavaliers! Michael Jordan hits at the foul line! 101-100! 20,273 in stunned silence here in the Coliseum. "
When Michael Jordan drove to the basket with the game tied in Game Six of the 1997 NBA Finals, who knew he was looking for Steve Kerr. Jordan kicked the ball out to Kerr, who drained a jumper with five seconds remaining to give the Bulls an 88-86 lead.
This would prove to be the difference, as the Bulls would hold on to win and earn their second straight NBA title and fifth of the decade.
From current Bulls' TV broadcaster Neil Funk:
"Michael, in traffic, to Kerr. Fifteen-footer...YES!! He knocked it in! Kerr buried the jumper, five seconds left! The Bulls lead is two! Stevie Kerr knocked it in! He took the pass from Michael and stuffed the jumper! Wow!"
The shot is 30 seconds in, but the whole video is worth watching
The play that made Horace Grant's block possible—Game Six of the 1993 NBA Finals.
The Bulls trailed the Suns 98-94 late in the fourth quarter after holding a double-digit lead earlier in the game. A loss meant traveling to Phoenix for Game Seven.
Michael Jordan hit a layup to cut the deficit to two, and after a Phoenix miss, the Bulls worked the ball from Michael Jordan to Scottie Pippen to Horace Grant, who kicked it out to Paxson for the series-winning three pointer.
As if there were any other choices for No. 1—Game Six of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz.
Bulls down by one in Utah, Jordan first strips Karl Malone on one end of the court, takes the ball down to the other end, where he calmly crosses over Bryon Russell and drains the game-winning jumper with 5.2 seconds to play.
87-86, Bulls. Game-winner, series-winner, championship-winner. Michael's final shot in a Bulls uniform. It couldn't have been written better for a movie script.
Fast forward 30 seconds for the shot