Many NBA fans, even today, wonder how did Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls reached the best ever regular season record in the NBA, nailing 72 wins in 1996.
As it turned out, there was something else, besides a great team, great coach and the triangle offense. That something else was the pissed off Michael Jordan.
Brian Hill was the head coach of the Orlando Magic that defeated the Chicago Bulls in the 1995 NBA playoffs. Orlando, packed with Shaquille O’Neal, Horace Grant, Nick Anderson and Penny Hardaway defeated Bulls 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Michael Jordan took that defeat to heart.
“I think it was without question the biggest motivation coming that following season,” Brian Hill said, according to Orlando Sentinel. “Michael Jordan played the whole season with an unbelievable will to win. There were eight to 10 games where he basically willed his teammates into winning games. He was a man possessed.”
“It drove him crazy,” said former Magic guard Nick Anderson, a friend of Jordan’s. “He did not forget.”
Anderson said what really ticked off Michael was watching Horace Grant, the former Bull, hoisted on the shoulders of Magic players at United Center after the Game 6 clincher. “For Michael to see that, I know it didn’t sit well,” Anderson said.
Embarrassed by the Orlando Magic, Jordan came full-force the next season and the Bulls went on to win 72 games, setting the best record in the NBA. The Bulls broke the previous regular-season record of 69-13 set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers.
Jordan led the Bulls into the playoffs with the best record in the NBA, and he got his chance for a revenge against the Orlando Magic. In the Eastern Conference Finals in 1996, the Bulls destroyed the Magic 4-0, and then won the NBA title over the Seattle Supersonics 4-2.
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