The Bulls would’ve kept winning if Jordan stayed
The ’90s-era Chicago Bulls reached legendary status when they “three-peated” — winning three titles in a row — twice. Led by Michael Jordan, the Bulls won it all from 1991 to 1993, and from 1996 to 1998. The missing titles in 1994 and 1995 coincided with Jordan briefly retiring from basketball to try pro baseball.
But then, before the 1999 season started, Jordan re-retired. Bulls fans salivate at what could have been — how the Bulls could’ve kept winning title after title. Except that, in all likelihood, 1998 was the end of an era.
Jordan retired at 36, kinda old for an NBA player. His stats also started slipping, and when he returned to the NBA again in 2001 for the Washington Wizards, his points-per-game average was the lowest of his career.
The Bulls’ other big stars, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, were in the waning years of their careers, too. Pippen played in fewer games per season and scored fewer and fewer points until he retired in 2004; Rodman would play in just 35 games after Jordan’s retirement. What the Bulls would’ve needed to keep contending were exciting young players, and they just didn’t have them.
The 1998-99 Bulls had rookies like Corey Benjamin, Cory Carr, Kornel David, and Charles Jones. None of them played more than four seasons in the NBA or amassing a lifetime points-per-game average above 5.5.