With Their “Manhood” in Jeopardy, Michael Jordan and Co. Were Once Given Brutal Reality Check by ‘Unexpected’ Rivals

With Their “Manhood” in Jeopardy, Michael Jordan and Co. Were Once Given Brutal Reality Check by ‘Unexpected’ Rivals

Despite their dominance over the 1990s, the Chicago Bulls squad did face some adversity. During those years, with expectations high, every team gave them their best shot. As a result, even a relatively predictable series could turn into a slugfest. That is the scenario that Michael Jordan and the team found themselves in during the 1997 playoffs. Even obvious victories could see some setbacks in between.

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The legendary dynasty found themselves in such a scenario against a relatively inexperienced Miami Heat team.

Michael Jordan makes it personal


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Through the first three games, the Bulls were on a roll. Despite their three-peat, the team was rejuvenated following Michael Jordan‘s comeback after his first retirement. As a result, the legendary 1995-96 season saw them set the NBA record for most wins before capping it off with an NBA title. But, the next year, they were back for more.

Even at a stage as grand as the Conference Finals, the result wasn’t in doubt. This was MJ, Scottie Pippen, and Chicago at the peak of their powers.


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The team had yet to lose a playoff series to a non-Shaquille O’Neal team in almost 7 years. So, the challenge from the Heat wasn’t that serious. With a 3-0 lead, the result was inevitable. However, in typical Heat Culture fashion, the team didn’t go down without a fight.

In a complete turnaround, the Heat were in firm control throughout Game 4. Alonzo Mourning was at his tenacious best, getting into it with Dennis Rodman on several occasions. Further, he had also left a huge knot on Pippen’s forehead courtesy of a rampant elbow. With the challenge lying bare, the Bulls had to respond.

According to Pippen, “Our Manhood was tested.” The Jordan meme was re-born. “It’s personal. You can interpret that any way you want.”

Speaking to the Washington Post, the duo made their game plan clear. As a result, Game 5 was a blowout, with Chicago cementing yet another berth in the NBA Finals. After all, there was just one team and one man that ever beat the prime Chicago Bulls in the playoffs.

Shaquille O’Neal – The man to end Michael Jordan’s dominance


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Even though the feat is a big topic of debate, the fact of the matter is Shaquille O’Neal beat Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls in their prime.

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What most choose as an out for MJ is him coming back midway through that year. However, his double nickel game against the New York Knicks, and eventual headline “I’m Back” in the New York Times tell a far different story.

Against a young Shaq and the Orlando Magic, Jordan was privy to his first playoff loss in over half a decade.


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Even though Miami gave the Bulls a physical awakening, a certain future Hall of Famer was the jump to an outright victory.

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