What was the best team Michael Jordan faced in the finals?

In terms of talent I’d say the 1992 Blazers. That was a deep, deep team. You had Clyde Drexler, Terry Porter, Kevin Duckworth, Jerome Kersey, Cliff Robinson, Buck Williams and Danny Ainge coming off the bench. Sheesh.

Now some people think this team wasn’t that great because they are just counting # of big names on the roster, but this Blazers roster had very good chemistry, and all the guys after Drexler are quite good as well. I think it’s an underrated team. Also, Porter and Buck are two of the most underrated players ever. Porter in his prime averaged 18/4/9 a game. Buck was a rebounding and defensive machine. And if you look up all their stats, every one of their starters averaged double digit scoring. Danny Ainge almost averaged double digit scoring too (9.7 PPG off the bench). So you have 6 guys on that team with double digit PPG? That’s a pretty deep team.

Now in terms of how difficult it was to beat in the Finals it was either the 93 Suns, or 97 Jazz. The reason it’s not the 1996 Sonics is because while Jordan struggled in that series, the Bulls were never in any danger of losing it. They came out with a 3–0 lead against Seattle. George Karl is a terrible coach and it wasn’t until 3 games in that he switched Payton on Jordan and then finally Seattle clawed back a bit, no team was coming from 0–3 down to win anyways.

The reason it’s one of these two teams is because the Bulls margin of victory for these two Finals were the smallest. In their victorious games, the Bulls won by a combined 18 points over the 93 Suns, and by a combined 20 points over the 97 Jazz. This is quite a small margin, and if not for some key clutch plays, both these Finals could have easily been extended to a Game 7. 1993 Finals Game 6 came to a clutch John Paxson 3 pointer and a Horace Grant block on KJ to ensure the win. 1997 Finals Game 6, Jordan drew a double team and passed it to Steve Kerr who hit a clutch shot for the Bulls to go up and Toni Kukoc sealed the win with a dunk. The fact that the 93 Suns won 62 games and 97 Jazz won 64 games also shows how tough these 2 teams were.

The Suns just had a ton of talent. Charles Barkley, Dan Marjele, Kevin Johnson, Richard Dumas, Danny Ainge and Tom Chambers off the bench. I mean c’mon, that’s a pretty nice roster.

The Jazz had the duo of Malone and Stockton as well as another great scorer in Jeff Hornacek. Also was way better coached than any other Finals team the Bulls faced too – Jerry Sloan is a great coach and you can see in his execution the Jazz played more physical than the Sonics did. Also unlike in 96, Rodman never went crazy on the boards because the Jazz knew how to box him out. The Jazz were a formidable team.

Of course I can also mention the 1998 Jazz too. 1998 Finals Game 6 famously came down to arguably Jordan’s most clutch and famous shot ever where he stripped Karl Malone of the ball in the closing seconds, went cross court, pushed off of Byron Russell for the game winner. All these series could have easily come down to a Game 7 had the Bulls not made those key clutch plays. But the Bulls blew the 98 Jazz out in Game 3, while all their games vs the 97 Jazz were fairly close, which is why I put the 97 Jazz slightly ahead.

I’d go with either the 1993 Suns or 97 Jazz. Bulls margin of victory in those series were so slim and had to come down to a few clutch plays for the Bulls.


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