Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time, there is little debate about that. The real question is would MJ have been able to win all those titles without his supporting cast. In this article, we take a look at some of those men and what they are doing now.
Some of these names are obvious, Pippen, Rodman, Kerr. But some of these men you may have forgotten about. Some of these stories will surprise you.
So flip through the slides and check up on some of these great players from decades ago.
John Paxson’s biggest moment as a Bull was draining a three-pointer with under five seconds to play in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals. That shot turned out to be the series-clinching bucket for the Bulls and Paxson’s 3rd straight championship.
In retirement, Paxson went to work for the organization he played for. He has served in the front office for over 17 years now. He has held to the role of General Manager, and Vice President of Basketball Operations. After years of woeful Bulls basketball, Paxson has been demoted to senior advisor.
Scott Burrell was an average NBA player, but an incredible athlete. He was the first athlete ever to be drafted in the first round by two major professional sports league, the NBA and MLB. He even pitched in the Blue Jays minor league system before focusing on basketball.
Burrell played in the NBA until 2001 when he took his talents around the world. Burrell played in Spain, China, and Japan before starting his coaching career. He is presently the head basketball coach at Southern Connecticut State University. He has held that role since 2015.
Some of you may not even be aware Hall of Famer George Gervin suited up for the Bulls, but he did. Gervin was traded to the Bulls right before the ’85-’86 season, much to the chagrin of Jordan. It would be Gervin’s 15th and final season in the NBA.
After leaving the Bulls in 1986, Gervin played briefly in Europe and the now-defunct Continental Basketball Association. In retirement, Gervin has been active in the San Antonio community, designing organizations for underprivileged youth. In 1991, Gervin opened the George Gervin Youth Center.
Laettner and Jordan were first teammates on the 1992 Dream Team when Laettner was still a college student at Duke. The two Olympians teamed up again in Washington D.C. near the end of their careers.
Unfortunately for Laettner, he’s not as good at business as he is at basketball. Success in the real world of retirement has not been kind to Laettner. After several failed businesses, Laettner had to sell off most of his assets to pay back $10 million worth of debts to creditors including Scottie Pippen, and Johnny Dawkins, among others.
BJ Armstrong was an important component in the Bulls’ first 3-peat. He added another weapon that could drive to the basket and run a fast break. After the title run, Armstrong was chosen by the expansion Toronto Raptors.
In retirement, Armstrong was briefly a member of the Bulls front office as a special assistant and scout. In 2006, he left the Bulls to become a sports agent with Wasserman Media Group. His clients have included Derrick Rose, Javale McGee, and Bismack Biyombo, among others.
As much as Jordan hated the “Bad Boy” Pistons, he sure did appreciate having a couple of them around when they were on his team. Salley joined up with the Bulls after his former Pistons teammate Dennis Rodman signed in 1996.
Salley picked up a ring with that ’96 Bulls squad and then left the league for a few seasons before making a comeback with the Lakers in 2000. Salley has been incredibly successful in retirement from basketball, appearing in films like Bad Boys, and Bad Boys II, and was a part of The Best Damn Sports Show Period.
Harper’s role as a player changed when he signed with the Bulls in 1994. Before his move to Chicago Harper was the main man on the teams he played on. Now in Chicago, he changed his game to be a lock-down defender and a supporting cast member. The move worked out as Harper won 3 titles with the Bulls.
Harper would be released by the Bulls after the end of the ’99 season and would reunite with Phil Jackson in Los Angeles. He would win two more championships with the Lakers before retiring in 2001. Harper spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Detroit Pistons from ’05-’07.
Kwame Brown was the first bad decision of Jordan’s non-playing basketball career. Wizards team president Michael Jordan took the teenage Brown with the No. 1 overall pick. Seeing a young player he could mold, Jordan returned to the court to “mentor” the young center. You know the rest.
Kwame Brown has gone down in history as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history. After a failed NBA career, Brown attempted a comeback in Ice Cube’s BIG3 league in 2017. That seemed to be more Brown’s speed.
Stacey King dominated college basketball while he was a the University of Oklahoma, winning Big Eight Player of the Year and being chosen 6th overall in 1989 by the Bulls. Comparatively, his NBA career was a disappointment. He rode Jordan and Pippen’s coattails to 3 championships before he was traded for Luc Longley in 1994.
Incredibly, King has been much more prolific for the Bulls in retirement than he ever was on the court. He has been the Bulls color commentator since 2008. He is best known for colorful catchphrases like “Meet me at the rim, and don’t be late!” and “If you’re scared, buy a dog!”
Lue was still a young man when he played with Michael Jordan in Washington. Lue joined the Wizards in just his 4th NBA season. It was there Lue gained more playing time and came into his own as a point guard.
After retiring from playing in 2009, Lue has continued to work in the NBA as a coach. He spent 6 seasons as an assistant with the Celtics, Clipper, and Cavaliers, before he was given the head coaching job in Cleveland. Lue, along with Lebron James and Kyrie Irving, helped deliver the city of Cleveland a long-awaited championship in 2016.
Bison Dele (Brian Williams)
Buckle up for the incredible tale of Bison Dele, or Brian Williams as he was known early in his NBA career. He was an average NBA player, but that isn’t what’s most remarkable about the man. In 1999, at the age of 30 and with no significant injury history, Dele abruptly retired from basketball.
In retirement Dele was free to live the life he wanted, which included playing saxophone, violin, and trumpet, traveling the world, and flying his own plane. He died in 2002 under mysterious circumstances when his catamaran returned to port in Tahiti without Dele and 2 of his traveling companions. Theories abound as to what actually happened on that boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Rip Hamilton was just Richard during his time with Michael Jordan in Washington. It wouldn’t be until later with the Pistons that he would earn the moniker “Rip.” The 7th overall pick in 1999, Hamilton was shipped to the Pistons for Jerry Stackhouse, where he made his career.
In retirement, Hamilton has been very active with the USO, touring the globe visiting US military bases all over the world. He has also been a part of the Read to Achieve program, reading books to children.
Stackhouse made his way to Washington and MJ in the ill-fated Stackhouse/Rip Hamilton trade. You couldn’t blame MJ for wanting another UNC legend around him, but the trade was a bust. Hamilton went on to be one of the best guards in the league and Stackhouse’s production went in the crapper.
In retirement, Stackhouse has followed the bouncing ball into coaching. He was an assistant with the Raptors and Grizzlies, before taking the head coaching job at Vanderbilt University in 2019. The Commodores went 11-20 in Stackhouse’s first season in Nashville.
Artis Gilmore played 7 seasons with the Bulls in the late 70’s and early 80’s, but it was a short return trip to Chicago in 1987 that saw him team up with Michael Jordan. In fact, it was just 24 games at the end of the 1987-1988 season.
After a Hall of Fame career, Artis Gilmore returned to his alma mater Jacksonville University. He has worked in roles as Special Assistant to the President and is the color commentator for Gamecocks basketball radio broadcasts.
Poor Charles Oakley. He was the enforcer and friend Jordan wanted on his team. Unfortunately, Jerry Krause had other ideas and Oakley was traded to the Knicks just before the Bulls began winning everything. To make things worse for Oakley, he was forced to play against Jordan and the Bulls as the Knicks developed into the Bulls main contenders in the 1990’s but were never able to get passed them.
Oakley briefly coached in the Charlotte organization but left after one season. He owns many businesses, mostly in his hometown of Cleveland. He owns car washes, nail salons, and restaurants. Until recently he spent much of his time as Knicks owner James Dolan’s chief antagonist.
Bill Cartwright was the big man Jordan didn’t know he needed. Traded for Charles Oakley in 1988, Cartwright drew the ire of Jordan just for being there. The move worked though, as Cartwright was an essential and often overlooked piece of the Bulls first 3-peat.
After his playing days were over, Cartwright moved up the bench and into coaching. He was an assistant on Phil Jackson’s bench from 1996-1998 and even took the head job with Chicago from 2001-2003. After leaving the NBA in 2012, Cartwright most recently coached in Japan and Mexico. These days he is the University of San Francisco’s Director of University Initiatives.
Robert Parish is well known for two things; playing basketball in 3 different decades, and his time with the Celtics. However, his final season in the NBA was the ’96-’97 Bulls.
The Hall of Fame center retired after their title-winning season at 43 years old, making him the 3rd oldest player ever to play in a game and the oldest ever to win a championship. These days Parish works for the Celtics as a team consultant and mentor of the Celtics big men.
Longley was the Bulls starting center for most of the second three-peat. The big Aussie had a career year in the Bull’s “Last Dance” season, averaging a career-high in points with 11.4 and adding 5.9 rebounds per game. Together with the long Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper, the Bulls front-court was nearly impenetrable.
In retirement, Longley, the first Australian to play in the NBA, has stayed around basketball in his homeland. He has worked as an assistant coach for the Australian national team since 2013. Longley has always had a passion for marine conservation and in 2009 discovered a new species of shrimp. He named it, Lebbeus clarehanna after his daughter.
Horace Grant was a solid NBA player, but an even better guy. Grant became known for the goggles he wore due to his poor eyesight. He eventually received LASIK surgery to correct his vision but continued to wear the goggles so he could be an inspiration for young children who also wore glasses.
In retirement, Grant has taken on an active role as a Goodwill Ambassador and an NBA Cares liaison, traveling the world providing aid and the love of basketball to children. He is also available to book for speaking events.
Steve Kerr started a grand total of zero games during his 5 seasons with the Bulls. Despite that, Kerr was an integral part of the Bulls championship runs. During the final minute of Game 2 of the 1998 Finals, Kerr missed a 3-pointer, got his own rebound, and made the crucial pass to Jordan who completed the 3-point play. The play gave the Bulls the lead back for good and the Bulls were able to level the series at 1-1.
Kerr would go on to win two more championships with the San Antonio Spurs to cement his legacy as one of the great role players of all-time. Kerr started just 30 games his entire career. After a brief spell as a general manager and a broadcaster, Kerr took to the bench with the Golden State Warriors and currently oversees one of the great dynasties in NBA history.
Despite his roughing up in the 1992 Olympics, the Croatian became an integral part of the Bulls franchise. He even won the 6th Man of the Year Award in 1996.
Kukoc would play for the 76ers, Hawks, and Bucks before retiring in 2006 as one of the greatest European exports the NBA has ever seen. In 2017, Kukoc was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame. He currently works for the Bulls as a special advisor to Owner Jerry Reinsdorf.
Has there ever been a more famous one-dimensional player in NBA history? The Worm was known on the court, for one thing, grabbing rebounds. Off the court, he was known for his eccentric look and interesting life choices.
The rebounding machine would take his talents to Los Angeles and Dallas for a season each before retirement. Just when we thought we’d seen the last of Rodman, he popped up in the most unlikely of places, North Korea. Rodman has become a sort of unofficial ambassador to North Korean dictator Kim-Jong Un.
Scottie Pippen is probably the greatest wingman in NAB history. In fact, it’s probably disrespectful to describe him in that way as Pippen is one of the greatest small forwards of all-time. Regardless of his descriptions, he was an essential piece to the Bulls.
Pippen would go on to play with Houston and Portland before returning to the Bulls for one final season at the age of 38. In retirement, Pippen would take on an advisory role within the Bulls organization.