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The Last Dance

The Last Dance: When and how did Michael Jordan win his six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls?

Michael Jordan, the leading protagonist of ESPN's 10-part documentary The Last Dance, played 15 seasons in the NBA. Of those 15, he represented the Chicago Bulls for 13 (1984-93; 1995-98) and the Washington Wizards for a couple (2001-03).

While he did record remarkable numbers for a player closer to 40 than 35, he was clearly in the twilight of his career with the WIzards. His greatest years came with the Bulls, predominantly in the 1990s when he led the franchise to six championships in as many Finals appearances over eight years.

Here's a look at when Jordan won each of his six NBA titles, the numbers he put up in those seasons and the teams he beat en route to those championships:

1991

Road to the 1991 NBA Championship:

  • Beat New York Knicks (3-0) in Eastern Conference First Round
  • Beat Philadelphia 76ers (4-1) in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • Beat Detroit Pistons (4-0) in Eastern Conference Finals
  • Beat Los Angeles Lakers (4-1) in NBA Finals

Averaging 31.5 points (1st in NBA), 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.7 steals, Jordan led the Bulls to a conference-best 61-21 regular-season record (2nd in NBA). In the playoffs, Jordan averaged 31.1 points, 8.4 assists, 6.4 rebounds, and 2.4 steals as the Bulls dropped just two games en route to their first-ever title, with both losses only coming by two points.

The most iconic moment of this championship series came in Game 2 when Jordan pulled 'the spectacular move' by switching from a dunk to a left-handed layup mid-air:

1992

Road to the 1992 NBA Championship:

  • Beat Miami Heat (3-0) in Eastern Conference First Round
  • Beat New York Knicks (4-3) in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • Beat Cleveland Cavaliers (4-2) in Eastern Conference Finals
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers (4-2) in NBA Finals

Averaging 30.1 points (1st in NBA), 6.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists, and 2.3 steals, Jordan led the Bulls to a league-best 67-15 record. It was the first time in franchise history that the Bulls had recorded the league's best regular-season record.

In the playoffs, this time around, the Bulls faced a lot more competition. Dropping seven games in the 1992 postseason, Jordan led the Bulls with playoff averages of 34.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.0 steals. With this title, the Bulls, at that time, became only the third franchise after the Lakers and the Celtics to win back-to-back championships.

MORE: How Jordan dominated Drexler in the 1992 Finals

While there were plenty of other notable 'Jordan' moments in this postseason run, including a 54-point Game 4 performance against the Knicks, arguably the most memorable is the Shrug Game - Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals.

1993

Road to the 1993 NBA Championship:

  • Beat Atlanta Hawks (3-0) in Eastern Conference First Round
  • Beat Cleveland Cavaliers (4-0) in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • Beat New York Knicks (4-2) in Eastern Conference Finals
  • Beat Phoenix Suns (4-2) in NBA Finals

Averaging 32.6 points (1st in NBA), 6.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.8 steals (1st in NBA), Jordan led the Bulls to a 57-25 record (3rd in NBA).

In the quest to become only the second franchise since the Celtics of the 1960s to win three straight titles, Jordan averaged a playoff career-high 35.1 points to go along with 6.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.1 steals.

During the 1993 postseason, he recorded two 50-point games including a 55-point masterpiece in Game 4 of the Finals:

1996

Road to the 1996 NBA Championship:

  • Beat Miami Heat (3-0) in Eastern Conference First Round
  • Beat New York Knicks (4-1) in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • Beat Orlando Magic (4-0) in Eastern Conference Finals
  • Beat Seattle SuperSonics (4-2) in NBA Finals

Playing his first full season since 1993, when he led the Bulls to a 3-peat, Jordan averaged 30.4 points (1st in NBA), 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.2 steals. He led the Bulls to a league-best 72-10, then an NBA record for most wins in a single season.

In the postseason, Jordan averaged 30.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.8 steals as the Bulls dropped just one game en route to the Finals. In the championship series, they quickly jumped to a 3-0 lead against Gary Payton and SuperSonics. While Sonics retaliated and won two straight, Jordan and the Bulls iced it in Game 6.

1997

Road to the 1997 NBA Championship:

  • Beat Washington Bullets (3-0) in Eastern Conference First Round
  • Beat Atlanta Hawks (4-1) in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • Beat Miami Heat (4-1) in Eastern Conference Finals
  • Beat Utah Jazz (4-2) in NBA Finals

For the 1996-97 season, Jordan averaged 29.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists as he played all 82 games. Coming off the NBA record 72 wins, the Bulls finished with a league-best 69-13 record.

Just like the regular season, the Bulls breezed past the East in the playoffs and were set to face the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals. In the extremely competitive series, that saw an average winning margin of just six points, the defending champions came out on top.

Jordan averaged 31.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in the playoffs. More notably, in the Finals - Game 5 to be precise - he had one of the most iconic and memorable games of his career - 'The Flu Game'.

Battling the Flu, Jordan finished with 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals in 44 minutes on the court.

1998

Road to the 1998 NBA Championship:

  • Beat New Jersey Nets (3-0) in Eastern Conference First Round
  • Beat Charlotte Hornets (4-1) in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • Beat Indiana Pacers (4-3) in Eastern Conference Finals
  • Beat Utah Jazz (4-2) in NBA Finals

Coming off 72 and 69 wins in the previous two years, the Bulls kept the momentum rolling. They tied the Utah Jazz for the league's best record of 62-20 as Jordan averaged 28.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists while playing all 82 games.

The Bulls cruised past the first two rounds but in the Conference Finals, just for the second time in the Bulls championship seasons, they were taken to a Game 7 by the Indiana Pacers. After narrowly beating them, they were set for a rematch with the Jazz but this contest ended in six games as well.

MORE: The most underappreciated play of MJ's career

Jordan ended his Bulls career with one of the best sequences of his career - a steal on Malone followed by the game-winner over Byron Russell.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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