‘The Last Dance’: Michael Jordan was against Phil Jackson’s triangle offense for Bulls early on


As many basketball fans now know, one of Phil Jackson’s biggest contributions to his Bulls teams in the 1990s was the implementation of the triangle offense. In conjunction with the on-court talent available, the system propelled Chicago — and later on, the Los Angeles Lakers — to championship glory.

But when it was first brought on and explained the Michael Jordan and the Bulls, the team’s superstar wasn’t exactly a fan of certain parts of its philosophy, as he explains in The Last Dance. This wasn’t so much an issue of him not having the ball, but more than that, the ball might end up in the wrong person’s hands towards the end of the shot clock.

The episode of the docuseries where Jordan expresses this point helps emphasize what he says by showing a clip of Bill Cartwright trying to make a turnaround jumper over his defender only for the ball to clank off the front of the rim. 

Of course, Jordan does eventually fall in line with the offensive approach and it helps — with the addition of some serious offseason training to take out the Pistons — bring the Bulls their first-ever championship. Specifically, Jordan starts buying into Jackson’s philosophy behind the triangle and starts trusting teammate John Paxton with shots in the series-clinching Game 5 win over the Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals.





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