Michael Jordan Says He Would Have Returned To The Bulls On A One-Year Deal In 1998-99

The close to the 10th and final episode of The Last Dance explored the 1998 NBA Finals run and the end of the Bulls dynasty. At the very end, they handed Michael Jordan a tablet and let him watch Jerry Reinsdorf explain why he broke the team up , which Jordan noted he was very interested to hear because they’d never discussed it.

“It would’ve been suicidal at that point in their careers to bring back Pippen, Steve Kerr, Rodman, Ron Harper. their market value individually was going to be too high,” Reinsdorf said. “They weren’t going to be worth the money they were going to get in the market. So we hen we realized we were going to have to go into a rebuild, I went to Phil and said, offered him the opportunity to come back the next year, but he said I don’t want to go through a rebuild, I don’t want to coach a bad team. That was the end. It just came to an end on its own. Had Michael been healthy and wanted to come back, I don’t doubt that Krause could’ve rebuilt another championship team in a few years, but you know it wasn’t going to happen instantly.”

Jordan responded by noting he wasn’t fully buying that — offering a knowing smirk — calling back to how Krause made it clear from the jump that ’98 was going to be their last year together.

“In ’98, Krause already said at the beginning of the season Phil could go 82-0 and he was never going to be the coach,” Jordan said. “When Phil said it was the last dance, it was the last dance. we knew they weren’t going to keep the team. Now, they could’ve nixed all of it at the beginning of ’98. Why say that statement at the beginning of ’98? If you asked all the guys who won in ’98, Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman, blah blah blah, we give you a one-year contract to try for seven, do you think they would’ve signed? Yes they would’ve signed. Would I have signed for one year? Yes I would’ve signed for one year. I’ve been signing one year contracts up to that. Would Phil have done it? Yes. Now Pip, you would’ve had to have some convincing, but if Phil was gonna be there, if Dennis was gonna be there, if MJ was gonna be there to win our seventh? Pip wasn’t going to miss out on that.”

Jordan was then asked if he was glad he went out on top and said no.

“It’s maddening, because I felt like we could’ve won seven,” Jordan said. “I really believe that. We may not have, but not to be able to try it, that’s something that I can’t accept. For whatever reason, I can’t accept.”

Now, Jordan suffered a finger injury that offseason that all but assured he wouldn’t come back, but it’s a fascinating “What If?” scenario imagining them trying to run it back in 1999 with the same group.