There are many ways to define Michael Jordan’s absolute greatness in leading the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. The offense, the defense, the competitiveness and the tough leadership added up to two separate runs of three consecutive titles.
With his unparalleled level of individual play, Jordan helped and pushed 37 teammates to become champions with him in Chicago from 1990-93 and 1995-98. While there were a few special players, most were reserves, the right role players the Bulls needed.
Let’s look at all those who were there to earn rings alongside Jordan all the way through “The Last Dance,” ranking them from best to worst, starting with the scrubbiest and ending with Scottie Pippen.
Ranking Michael Jordan’s Bulls championship teammates
37. Jack Haley, PF/C, 1995-96
Haley appeared in one game. His sole purpose, in also coming over from the Spurs, was serving as the Bulls’ initial Dennis Rodman whisperer.
36. Matt Steigenga, SF, 1996-97
Sparty fans remember him as the tag-team partner of Mike Peplowski on Michigan State’s front line near the end of the late, great Jud Heathcote’s tenure. Bulls fans hardly remember his lone NBA season as a second-round draft pick.
35. Keith Booth, SF, 1997-98
He was the Bulls’ rookie first-round pick from Maryland on “The Last Dance” team, seeing six games of action. His second season with them post-Jordan turned out to be his last in the NBA.
34. Ed Nealy, PF, 1992-93
Nealy finished that season with the Bulls after being acquired from the Warriors for a second-round pick at the trade deadline. He played 26 games for Chicago, including the playoffs, earning a championship ring.
33. Rusty LaRue, PG, 1997-98
The prolific former Wake Forest QB ran the point off the bench for the Bulls for three seasons, making the team as an undrafted player. He averaged 3.5 points in his 14 games but didn’t see any “Last Dance” playoff action.
32. John Salley, PF, 1995-96
He was the “other” former Pistons Bad Boy to cross over to the Bulls’ championship run, reuniting with Rodman in Chicago. Salley got his third of four career rings by playing 33 games combined in regular season and playoffs — the last one came with Phil Jackson, too, with the 2000 Lakers.
31. James Edwards, C, 1995-96
Edwards also was with the Bulls for one year like his fellow former Pistons two-time champion Salley to play with Rodman again, getting his third NBA ring in his final, 19th season at age 40. Edwards averaged 3.5 points in his 28 games and also appeared in 6 playoff games.
30. Joe Kleine, C, 1997-98
Kleine played for seven teams in his NBA career, most notably the Kings (who drafted him No. 6 overall in 1985) and Celtics. The 6-11 limited big man played in 46 regular-season games to earn his only ring during “The Last Dance.”
29. Corey Williams, PG, 1992-93
Williams was the Bulls’ second-round pick out of Oklahoma State in 1992. He played 35 games for them in his first of only two NBA seasons at the end of their first run of three championships.
28. Bob Hansen, SG, 1991-92
Hansen spent most of his career with the Jazz, starting for a stretch as the backcourt mate of Hall of Famer John Stockton, the all-time NBA leader in assists and steals. As a 31-year-old coming over in a trade from the Kings, Hansen played 75 games for the Bulls, earning his lone ring in his final NBA season.
27. Rodney McCray, SF, 1992-93
A year after Hansen, McCray, also at 31, also got his single ring in his final NBA season playing with Jordan. The former Rocket, King and Maverick played in 64 regular-season games, averaging 3.5 points and 2.5 rebounds. He also appeared in seven playoff games.
26. Darrell Walker, PG, 1992-93
How about this? Walker also joined Hansen and McCray in the 31-year-old last season, first ring club after being signed by the Bulls in January. He played 37 games as a fine reserve.
25. Dennis Hopson, SG, 1990-91
Three-plus years after the Nets drafted him No. 3 overall out of Ohio State, Hopson found a championship home with the Bulls. He celebrated the first title with Jordan, playing 61 regular-season games and averaging 4.3 points before making 5 playoff appearances. Hopson was traded for Hansen in the middle of the following season.
24. Dickey Simpkins, PF, 1995-98
The Bulls’ first-rounder in 1994 out of Providence ended up playing six seasons in Chicago, winning three rings with Jordan. He played in 129 regular-season games for them over those seasons, averaging 3 points and 2 rebounds. His only playoff action came in 1998, when he appeared 13 times during “The Last Dance.”
23. Jason Caffey, PF, 1995-97
The Bulls’ first-rounder in 1995 out of Alabama played two and a half seasons with them. He played in 183 regular-season games over three seasons as Rodman’s solid backup. He averaged 5.5 points and 3.2 rebounds and got 24 total starts, including playoffs, in Year 2. Caffey looked headed for three rings with Bulls, but much to the surprise of the players during “The Last Dance”, he was traded to the Warriors in Feb. 1998 for multiple second-round picks and for soon-waived replacement David Vaughn.
22. Robert Parish, C, 1996-97
“The Chief” won three rings with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and the Celtics in his Hall of Fame career, but as a 43-year-old, he added a fourth playing with Jordan. In 43 regular-season games, including 3 starts, Parish contributed 3.7 points and 2.1 rebounds a sound backup. He also made two final playoff appearances before retiring.
21. Trent Tucker, SG, 1992-93
File Tucker under yet another player who ended his NBA career with a title because of Jordan. At 33, he played 69 regular-season games, averaging 5.2 points and shooting at 48.5 percent as a valuable bench player. He kept up his key reserve status with 19 playoff appearances. Tucker had beaten the Bulls on a buzzer beater with the Knicks in 1990, a controversial play that led to the rule of needing 0.3 seconds to get off a last-second shot.
20. Jud Buechler, SF, 1995-98
The Bulls signed Buechler for the bench as a free agent in 1994 before Jordan’s return from retirement. He was on the final three championship teams, playing 275 games for them, including playoffs. His reserve role revolved around his timely, rangy shooting.
19. Bison Dele, C, 1996-97
When he was still named Brian Williams, Dele played his age 27 season in Chicago. He was very effective in 9 regular-season games, averaging 7 points and 3.7 rebounds, in between strong stints with the Clippers and Pistons. He carried that into 19 playoff games, averaging 6.1 points and 3.7 rebounds. That spring-boarded Dele to a fine two-year run in Detroit, before his sudden retirement at 30. Unfortunately, at only 33, Dele was presumed dead at sea from an incident that occurred on his catamaran during an ill-fated sailing trip from Tahiti.
18. Cliff Levingston, PF, 1990-92
At 30, Levingston was a critical reserve during Jordan’s first two title runs. He played in 157 regular-season games, averaging 4 points and 2.9 rebounds. He also was a staple in the rotation in the playoffs, making 29 appearances. Without Levingston helping to pump up his team, “What time is it?” and “Gametime!” wouldn’t be the signature question and answer of the Bulls’ pregame championship-era ritual.
17. Scott Williams, PF, 1990-93
This fellow former Tar Heel to Jordan, signed as an undrafted free agent, won the first three championships with Jordan. He averaged 4 points and 4.3 point in playing 185 regular-season games. He also appeared in the playoffs 43 times, key to the Bulls beating the Lakers in the overtime Game 3 of the 1991 NBA Finals.
16. Bill Wennington, C, 1995-1998
Wennington, once a first-round pick by the Mavericks out of St. John’s, found his NBA niche as the backup to Luc Longley in Chicago. The Canadian delivered good minutes off the bench and also started 47 of his 180 regular-season games in his three ringed seasons, averaging 4.6 points and 2 rebounds.
15. Scott Burrell, SF, 1997-98
Burrell, at 27, played 80 regular-season games in his lone season with Jordan’s Bulls, with his newcomer presence well documented in “The Last Dance.” He averaged 5.2 points and 2.5 rebounds while averaging only 13.7 minutes per game. Jordan pushed Burrell into being a key bench player and his reward was playing all 21 playoff games in the sixth championship run.
14. Randy Brown, PG, 1995-98
Brown, the former King, was a great backup pickup in free agency. Consider Brown to be the Levingston of the Bulls’ second “three-peat” as the veteran pumping up and energizing his teammates off the bench. Brown started 9 of 211 regular-season games in those three seasons, with the Bulls, averaging 3.9 points and 1.7. After “The Last Dance” season, Brown regularly started in his two final years with the team.
13. Craig Hodges, SG, 1990-92
Hodges ended his NBA career in Chicago as a 3-time 3-point contest champion and 2-time league champion. He gave the Bulls consistent good minutes off the bench with his long-distance shooting touch.
12. Will Perdue, C, 1990-93
The Bulls drafted Perdue with the No. 11 overall pick out of Vanderbilt in 1988. Although he didn’t pan out as a potential starter early, he was valuable backing up Bill Cartwright during the first “three-peat.” He started 26 of his 223 regular-season games in those seasons, averaging 13.3 minutes, 4.5 points and 4.2 rebounds. Perdue, like Steve Kerr, also won a post-Bulls ring later with the 1999 Spurs.
11. Stacey King, PF, 1990-93
The Bulls had high expectations for King when they drafted him No. 6 overall in 1989, fresh off his dominant career at Oklahoma. He never became a full-time player, but in his second year, he emerged as a key member of the first “three-peat” team. He started 21 of 241 games in those seasons, averaging 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds. He did a lot of gritty dirty work on both ends for them. He was traded to the Timberwolves in 1994 for Luc Longley.
10. Luc Longley C, 1995-1998
The Austrailian was the No. 6 overall pick by Minnesota in the 1991 draft out of New Mexico, but he didn’t find his starting stride until his second NBA team during the second “three-peat.” Longley was a skilled traditional big man who peaked by averaging 11.4 points and 5.9 rebounds during “The Last Dance” season. He remained just as active during the winning playoff runs.
9. Bill Cartwright, C, 1990-1993
“The man in the middle” from San Francisco arrived in the Charles Oakley trade with the Knicks in June 1998, which was at first unpopular with Jordan. Cartwright was into his third season starting with Jordan as the Bulls were building for their first three-peat. Cartwright, in the twilight of his career, wasn’t called upon to score and rebound like he once did, but he was good at doing his job of occupying other big men on both ends of the floor. Jordan, however, sometimes was frustrated with Cartwright’s limited, declining ball-handling skills.
8. John Paxson, PG, 1990-1993
Paxson played five seasons with the Bulls before he enjoyed the three-peat with Jordan as his backcourt starting mate. He was a reliable, clutch long-distance shooter for the triangle offense, as well as a durable starter who contributed what he needed to as a passer and free-throw shooter. Paxson stamped his role-playing value by making the game- and series-winning shot against the Suns in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals.
7. Steve Kerr, PG, 1995-1998
Kerr was in a Paxson/Hodges hybrid role for the second three-peat, except off the bench with defensive stopper Ron Harper starting with Jordan. Kerr was very efficient with his 3-point shooting, passing and free-throw shooting while averaging around 23 minutes. He made plenty of clutch plays, including his championship-winning shot against the Jazz in Game 6 in 1997 NBA Finals and his game-winning assist to Jordan against the Jazz in Game 2 of the 1998 NBA Finals. Kerr added two more rings as a player with Gregg Popovich’s Spurs, including in the season right after “The Last Dance”, before coaching the Warriors to three more.
6. B.J. Armstrong, PG, 1990-93
The Bulls took Armstrong No. 18 overall out of Iowa in the 1989 draft after selecting King. He was a young bench player for the first two years of the initial three-peat, but after elevating to starter in 1992-93 he averaged 12.3 points and 4 assists. Armstrong made the All-Star Game in 1994 with Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen, the season after Jordan retired for the first time.
5. Ron Harper, PG, 1995-98
Longley and Rodman were two new key starters with Jordan and Pippen for the second three-peat, but Harper, coming over from the Clippers in his early 30s deserves more credit for being the third. Harper adjusted to a unnatural starting backcourt position for Jordan and was known for defensive energy, steady passing and reliable jump-shooting, resembling a scrappy, savvy veteran glue player in every which way. Harper went on to win two more titles with Jackson’s Lakers.
4. Toni Kukoc, SF, 1995-98
Kukoc, at 6-10, 192 pounds, was in the early wave of skilled European players who broke the traditional mold for guys his size. As much heat as he got for his defense and also being a limited rebounder. Kukoc was a smart scorer and superb shooter to complement Jordan and Pippen as both a starter and a reserve. He also passed well and made his free throws. Kukoc was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1996.
3. Horace Grant, PF, 1990-1993
Grant comes in second for the race to be named third-most valuable championship Bull behind Jordan and Pippen. The No. 10 overall pick in the 1987 draft found his groove complementing those players up front under Jackson. Before Rodman, he was the team’s mighty rebounder and also brought a high level of defense elsewhere to match the intensity of Jordan and Pippen on that end. Grante also did his share of complementary scoring with high-percentage work around the basket.
2. Dennis Rodman, PF, 1995-1998
Rodman turned out to be much higher reward than risk when the Bulls brought in the former Pistons defensive archrival at age 34 after two tumultuous seasons with the Spurs. He managed to be the same menace on the boards for opponents, extending his NBA rebounding title streak to 7 during the second three-peat. Rodman’s relentless and smart play fit right in what Jordan and Jackson wanted to do to take the Bulls to greater heights with 72, 69 and 62 wins.
1. Scottie Pippen, SF, 1990-1993, 1995-1998
It’s remarkable to think that only Pippen and Jackson joined Jordan for all six championships in eight seasons, with no else bridging through Jordan’s first retirement. “The Last Dance” has shed more light on Pippen being a complete, elite player in his own right. He should never be considered in Jordan’s shadow. Without a supplemental player of Pippen’s caliber, the Bulls dynasty doesn’t happen.
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