SI senior writer Chris Mannix examines the question: What if the Bulls Were Able to Stay Together for One More Season? In the last episode of 'The Last Dance' it was revealed that Phil Jackson could've stayed with the Bulls for another season, but would that have been enough for the seventh ring?
One of the big questions to come out of 'The Last Dance' documentary was could that Bulls team been kept together for one more season? And if they had, would they have won a seventh championship? Now, let's start with could they have been kept back together at the end of the documentary - you heard Michael Jordan suggest that all of the players in that team and the coach would have been willing to come back for short-term deals. That seems extremely unlikely.
For the better part of the last few years of his time with the Bulls, Scottie Pippen was extremely upset about money; and there was a long term deal with the Houston Rockets on the table during that next off-season that he simply wasn't going to turn down in favor of a one year contract. The Bulls were not going to match that type of offer, not for a player who looked like he was starting to break down some physically.
Similarly, Steve Kerr, Luc Longley, both of them signed contracts that off-season that were the biggest contracts of their career. So it seems unlikely that the core of that team could have been brought back for one more season. Now, what if they did? If everybody decide to sign those short-term deals, if the coach came back, even then - there's no guarantee that that team would have won another championship.
Look at what happened to the players in those subsequent seasons. The first season out of Chicago, Scottie Pippen scoring numbers dipped precipitously. The next season after Chicago, Luc Longley only played in 39 games with the Phoenix Suns. Dennis Rodman was cut loose after the '98 season and he only played 35 games for the rest of his career. His career was basically over after he left the Chicago Bulls.
So, even if that group came together, there are no guarantees it would have made a run and been able to beat San Antonio in the West or Indiana and New York and others in the East. Michael Jordan is a great player, maybe the greatest of all time. Phil Jackson is a great coach. Maybe the greatest of all time. But not even a great player and a great coach can overcome every obstacle. And the Bulls, they would have had a number of obstacles right in front of them.