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The Road to the Mountaintop for Jordan and the Bulls
on February 13, 2017
In the spring of 1990, the Chicago Bulls fell to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA playoffs for the third consecutive season. But the Bulls had their strongest team ever going into the 1990-91 campaign and were looking to get over their past playoff failures and claim their elusive first championship. Sam Smith chronicles how the club attained its long-sought goal that year in "The Jordan Rules."
Smith profiles coach Phil Jackson, superstar Michael Jordan, and the rest of the key players on the team throughout his account of the long campaign. The author notes some of the moves that the Bulls did and did not make to build their title team. Those who remember this book coming out in the winter of 1992 recall that most of the commentary about "The Jordan Rules" back then focused on Jordan's mistreatment of his teammates, and some of the vignettes on that score are indeed worse than just normal razzing.
The 1991 Bulls were a great team but went through the inevitable rough patches during the season. Smith recalls the conflicts over the triangle offense and the infighting and dissension that went on, but the Bulls came together for the playoffs, finally having the mental strength to get over the Pistons hurdle and then to beat the aging Lakers in the Finals. While "The Jordan Rules" is most famous for its lurid aspects, Smith's account is a good retrospective on the entirety of the Bulls' breakthrough season.