The '97-'98 Chicago Bulls Season Would Have Been Ripe For Hot Takes

Stephen Douglas
Dennis Rodman and Antoine Walker fight for a rebound as Michael Jordan watches.
Dennis Rodman and Antoine Walker fight for a rebound as Michael Jordan watches. / JOHN MOTTERN/Getty Images
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The 1997-1998 Chicago Bulls went 62-20 and won a title in Michael Jordan's last season in Chicago. The 10-part series documenting that final season, The Last Dance, premieres on ESPN Sunday night. In 10 hours, they'll likely touch on the media handling the Bulls' slow start that season, but it's fun to imagine how the team's season-opening loss to the Boston Celtics on TNT would have played online a few decades later. That loss, plus a slow start for the defending champs would have been a perfect storm for the hot-take industrial complex.

Here's the full broadcast of the Celtics' 92-85 win over the Bulls on Halloween night in 1997. If you click play it will pick up right after the Celtics rebounded a missed shot by Michael Jordan that basically ended the game. The crowd goes wild. Chauncey Billups hits a couple free throws and steals an inbounds pass. Boston players walk off the court with their index fingers in the air.

This was Rick Pitino's first game in Boston. Coming off a 15-win season, Pitino overhauled the roster and started three guys who played for him at Kentucky, Antoine Walker, Walter McCarthy and Ron Mercer. With Scottie Pippen out with an injury, Walker, in his second season, went off for 31 points. Billups added 15 points and 4 assists off the bench in just under 17 minutes in his first NBA game.

The Celtics were the future of the NBA. The Bulls were done. Jordan & Co. were too old. Dynasty? Over. The takes would have been scalding by the time Chicago dropped to 4-4 after losing to Chris Webber, Juwan Howard, Rod Strickland and the Washington Wizards on November 12th.

Not that it mattered. As we'll all see over the next few weeks on ESPN and as we all saw during the '97-'98 season, the Bulls never doubted it for a second. Here's Jordan after scoring 30 on 7-of-23 shooting in that season-opening loss. Via The Chicago Tribune:

"One game early in the season doesn't mean we're not going to win No. 6."

It's not so much the thought of how the 2020 news cycle would have handled Jordan's Bulls. It's more the thought of how Jordan, who took everything personally, would handle the news cycle. Would he have lashed out on social media? Killed reporters with death stares? Or just taken it out on opponents and actually worn himself down even more against people just trying to generate headlines and get a reaction in the first place? Now there's a documentary I'd like to see.

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