Michael Jordan was the undisputed owner of all 90’s NBA franchises, especially these ones. The Jazz and the Cavs are bringing back the past this season with 90’s throwback jerseys, let’s look at what went down the first time around. There was a collection of very decent teams that just couldn’t compare to Chicago’s collection of all-timers.
First, let’s look at the Cleveland Cavaliers. These might be the best 90’s jerseys out there. They’re arguably more 90’s than any other thread. They had a squad too. Mark Price ran point next to Ron Harper, who was always good for a bucket. With the defensive presence that was Larry Nance next to “Mr. Everything” Craig Ehlo, the Cavs were a team to be reckoned with.
Cavs Circa Dawn of the 1990’s
Unfortunately, they always ran into the buzz saw that was Michael Jordan. MJ is actually the founder of these threads. He embarrassed Cleveland so bad that their franchise ultimately needed a new look. This gives us an excuse to go back and relive some of the glorious (notorious by Cleveland standards) moments. First, we start at the dawn of the new decade. In the ’89 Eastern Conference 1st round. The Cavs had pushed Mike to a decisive elimination game 5 back in Cleveland. 50 points from MJ wasn’t enough for the Bulls in game 4. He followed up with 44 more and “The Shot” to advance his Bulls by a single point. Craig Ehlo collapses in defeat as his potential game winner on the other end left 3 too many seconds of the clock for MJ magic. All Defensive caliber player Larry Nance and Ehlo doubling was not enough to stop Mike from getting his. He would average 46 points over the last 3 games with that cherry on top.
The following season, MJ once again embarrassed the Cavs in their home arena. A 69 point game that will forever solidify him in the GOAT conversation. Use this as an excuse to watch a straight buckets clinic. The Cavs changed their entire scheme and logo a couple years later in attempt to put these GOAT demons behind them.
Late 90s Jazz
The Jazz battled with their share of the GOAT demon as well. The Jazz switched up their scheme for the ensuing 1996-’97 season after falling in 7 games in the Western Conference Finals to the SuperSonics . They would return the following two seasons and triumphing over talented Rockets and Lakers teams. Jazz a 2/2 WCF record in the new threads, they must’ve been good luck… for the Bulls. Chicago owned them. Two years in a row they fell to the Bulls in game 6 of the Finals. They really had a squad. Prolific power forward Karl Malone. Aided by legendary point guard John Stockton. Flanked by Jeff Hornacek and Byron Russell, there were options. All of these options vaulted them to the top of the Western Conference in ’97 & ’98. It wasn’t enough to overcome arguably the greatest team of all time. The 72-10 Bulls took care of business in ’97. The following year, MJ hit his second “The Shot” which vaulted him to his second 3-peat and retirement. Utah would never recover from the “push off” and hasn’t seen the conference finals since.
There’s an underlying theme to all of these teams. You could say that with MJ out of the picture, they might’ve stood a chance. But he wasn’t for 6/7 years. Even in his absence, Scottie and co. tested a young Penny Hardaway and Shaq in the Eastern Conference Semis. A liege of ‘HOFers’ served “His Airness” during his reign. Dennis “The Worm” Rodman, the greatest rebounded of all time. Scottie Pippen, the best, most versatile defender in the league that wasn’t Michael Jordan. As well as 7 time world champion Robert Horry, who was ahead of his time as a stretch forward. During a couple of his championship runs he even had the likes of Ron Harper and Steve Kerr alongside him. Under one of the greatest coaches of all time, Phil Jackson, the 90’s Bulls had the greatest run of all time and it may never be matched. Even if a team could match up to the cast around him, no man in the world could hope to contain “Air Jordan”.