Game 6: at Chicago 87, Seattle 75
Bulls-eye! Game Story | Finals MVP | Box Score | Notes
Quotes: Bulls | Sonics
Game 6 Theater: Video, Audio & Photos!
"This has been a very, very special year. There's no way to describe it."
-- Michael Jordan
It took the Chicago Bulls a little longer than they expected,
but with the home crowd and Chicago's own United Center playing a supporting role, the Bulls were able to defeat the Seattle SuperSonics 87-75 in Game 6 to win the 1996 NBA Championship. It's Chicago's fourth NBA title in six years.
"This really means a lot to me, especially after what happened to my father and this coming on Father's Day," said Jordan, whose father died in 1993. "I'm sorry I was out for 18 months, but I'm happy I'm back and was able to bring the championship back to Chicago."
"The thing that was different about this championship was that we were expected to win it," said Chicago coach Phil Jackson, who coached the Bulls for all four titles. "And when you're expected to do something, the pressure really grows on you, and it makes winning more of a relief than an exultation. But I give a lot of credit to Seattle; they made us work for this title and that makes it sweeter."
"I want to congratulate the Chicago Bulls," said Seattle coach George Karl. "I think a big part of their success was their experience and their class. I hope we learned from that. But I can't thank my team enough, they've rejuvenated my spirit. We showed the nation that we have a big heart and we played with a lot of pride. That's all you can ask for as a basketball coach."
With the crowd singing "We Are The Champions," Chicago accepted the Larry O'Brien trophy from NBA Commissioner David Stern, as the NBA title was returned to the Windy City after spending two years in Houston with the Rockets.
"I just think that this makes the game of basketball worthwhile for me,"said Dennis Rodman, winning a third title to go with two he won with the Pistons in 1989 and 1990.
It was a much better Chicago team that showed up for Game 6, one not seen since Game 3 back in Seattle. The outside shots were falling for the Bulls again, as Chicago hit 9-of-25 from long range, and Rodman had another big game on the boards with 19 rebounds, including 11 on the offensive end to once again tie the Finals record he equaled earlier in the series. Ron Harper, who had been sidelined with an injured knee, rebounded to play 38 minutes for the Bulls and provided the spark on defense for the Bulls that had been missing.
"I thought that Ron Harper's defense was really the key for us," said Jackson. "It was the defensive effort that gave us the game."
Despite the emotional lift given the Bulls with Ron Harper back in the starting lineup and with their return to the friendly confines of the United Center, where Chicago lost only three games all season long, the Sonics withstood an initial charge by the Bulls. Seattle stayed close to Chicago throughout the first quarter before falling behind by six, 24-18, at the end of the first twelve minutes. The Bulls were led by 7 points and 6 rebounds by Michael Jordan and 7 points by Scottie Pippen, while the Sonics' top guns, Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, each scored 6 points for Seattle.
The Bulls' lead grew to as many as 12 points, 41-29 with 4:01 remaining in the second quarter, but the Sonics refused to fold, going on an 8-0 run and cutting it to 45-38 as the half behind 8 points by Kemp and 7 points from Detlef Schrempf. Jordan contributed another 7 points to total 14 at halftime, but shot only 3-for-11. As he always does when necessary, though, Jordan made up for his shooting woes by pulling down rebounds and passing the ball to his open teammates. Yet although Chicago maintained the lead, Seattle was still in the game, refusing to be intimidated by a Bulls team which looked a lot better than in the previous two Seattle victories.
Nate McMillan, Seattle's emotional leader, played 8 in the first half but reinjured his back in the second quarter and was not able to be effective on the court. Sobbing with pain and frustration, McMillan was forced to watch from the Sonics bench in the third, as Seattle fell behind by as much as 17 and the Bulls appeared to take control of the game, the title almost within their grasp. But once again, the Sonics stepped up as the Bulls seemed to grow tired, going on a 9-0 run to cut into the Bulls' lead. Through three quarters it was the Bulls 67, the Sonics 58, as Payton came up with 8 points and 4 assists to help keep Seattle alive, while Harper and Jordan each contributed 6 points for the Bulls.
"You're always disappointed when you lose," said Kemp, who had an oustanding series for the Sonics. "There are no second place winners. But you just have to keep working and keep working hard. One thing I've realized is how important the mental aspect of the game is, and as a young player, that's what I'm going to work on and that's what we have to work on as a team."
"This has been a very, very special year," said Jordan. "There's no way to describe it."
[ FINALS.COM | BULLS | SONICS | STORE ]
All rights reserved. Do not duplicate or redistribute in any form.