The NBA world continues to mourn the passing of Johnny Bach, the legendary assistant coach who passed away on Monday at the age of 91. As the mastermind of the “Doberman” defense that helped the Chicago Bulls win three straight championships in 1991, ’92 and ’93, Bach was called “one of the greatest basketball minds of all-time” by none other than Michael Jordan.
“He taught me so much, encouraged me, worked with me and really helped to mold my professional game,” said Jordan. “Without him, I don’t know that we would’ve won our first three championships. He was more than a coach to me. He was a great friend.”
Bach’s passing also brought us a fun little anecdote from a Chicago broadcaster, which — if true — simply adds to his legend. David Kaplan, host of SportsTalk Live in Chicago, shared a story on Tuesday that he had agreed to keep secret until Bach had passed. It’s almost too good to be true.
“So the Bulls are playing the Lakers in the ’91 Finals. Bulls lose Game 1 at home. They win Game 2 [which featured this nifty little move by MJ] and they go out to L.A. and the Forum isn’t available for practice. They go to this high school gym to practice. The Lakers are using the floor, too. He goes, ‘The Lakers come out, the Bulls go in. I go over to spit in the garbage can and I look, and there’s [Lakers’ coach] Mike Dunleavy’s practice plan.’ He goes, ‘It’s torn in pieces. There is snot, there is tobacco, there is half-drank soda pop. Chewing gum, everything’s in there.’ He goes, ‘I take the plastic bag out, I bring it back to my hotel room.’ He gets rubber gloves. He goes, ‘And I stay up all night and I put this together like a jigsaw puzzle. I call Phil [Jackson] and I go, we got ’em!’ And the Bulls never lost another game in that series.”