It was June 16, 1996, when the Chicago Bulls defeated the Seattle Supersonics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to capture the franchise’s fourth championship. It was historic for a number of reasons.
The 1995-96 NBA title would come down to the two teams with the best records in their respective conference. The ’95-’96 Bulls set an NBA record when they went 72-10 (since broken by the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors) in the regular season. Seattle was a very respectable 64-18 and the 136 combined regular season wins by the two NBA finalists was a league record.
The 1996 NBA Finals were the 50th in league history. It would be the last Finals appearance ever for the Supersonics, who would make the playoffs the next two seasons but fall short of playing for a title. The franchise would move to Oklahoma City in 2008.
The series began in Chicago where the Bulls won both Game 1 and Game 2. The Bulls would also win Game 3 in Seattle behind 36 points from Michael Jordan. Down 3-0, the Sonics would battle back and win the next two games, but Chicago was simply too much at home in Game 6.
The victory was the first in the second three-peat by Chicago. After leading the Bulls in scoring in all six games, Jordan would capture his fourth NBA Finals MVP award. Chicago set a record for combined wins in the regular season and postseason with 87 total. That record would stand until the 2015-16 Warriors broke it with 88 thanks, in large part, to a first-round best-of-seven playoff series. Chicago played a first-round best-of-five series in ’95-’96.
The ’96 NBA Finals would feature four players and two coaches who would go on to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Dennis Rodman of Chicago and Gary Payton from Seattle are all in the Hall of Fame. Bulls head coach Phil Jackson and his assistant Tex Winter are also members of the Hall of Fame.