Jerry Reinsdorf Says the Bulls Couldn’t Have Won in ’99 Because of Jordan’s Finger Injury

"Even if we could've brought everybody back, it wouldn't have made any sense," he said

Michael Jordan with Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Bulls, and NBA Commissioner David Stern
Michael Jordan, holding his sixth championship ring, stands with Jerry Reinsdorf (R) and NBA Commissioner David Stern (L).
JOHN ZICH/AFP via Getty Images
By Bonnie Stiernberg / May 19, 2020 2:00 pm

In the final episode of The Last Dance, Michael Jordan insisted that the Bulls could have won a seventh championship if the team hadn’t been dismantled. But in a new interview with ESPN, owner Jerry Reinsdorf insists that wouldn’t have been possible, due to an off-the-court injury to Jordan.

“The thing nobody wants to remember, during lockout, Michael was screwing around with a cigar cutter, and he cut his finger,” Reinsdorf told the publication. “He couldn’t have played that year. He had to have surgery on the finger, so even if we could’ve brought everybody back, it wouldn’t have made any sense.”

Reinsdorf also took issue with Jordan’s comment that the core players from the ’97-’98 championship run all would have taken smaller one-year deals to come back for one more season.

“The fact is, it’s pretty obvious in 1998 that Michael carried this team,” he said. “These guys were gassed. He could not have come back because of the cut finger. But even if he could’ve come back, the other players [Steve Kerr, Luc Longley, Jud Buechler, Dennis Rodman] were going to get offers that were way in excess of what they were worth.”

“I know in Episode 10, [Jordan] says, ‘They all would’ve come back for one year,’” he added. “But there’s not a chance in the world that Scottie Pippen would’ve come back on a one-year contract when he knew he could get a much bigger contract someplace else.”

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