Former NBA player Kendall Gill reveals Ron Harper was one of the greatest defenders on the Chicago Bulls roster during Jordan’s second 3-peat.
The Chicago Bulls dominated the NBA between 1990-1998, having two 3-peats. The iconic duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen terrorized the opposition on both ends of the floor.
Both Jordan and Pippen have numerous NBA All-Defensive selections, with MJ even winning the DPOY in 1988. The aura of the Jordan-Pippen was such that several teams were beaten even before they stepped into the United Center.
Recently, Kendell Gill divulged some relatively unknown facts about the Bulls’ defense during the time. Having faced the Bulls during the Jordan era, Gill had the first-hand experience.
Gill revealed how Bulls point guard Ron Harper could make life miserable for his opposition at the defense, giving Jordan and Pippen a breather.
Ron Harper was an elite defender during the Bulls’ quest for a second 3-peat
In an interview with Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein, Gill revealed how great of a perimeter defender Harper was. The 6″6′ guard gave MJ and Pippen time to recoup while he would be guarding the opposition.
By the time he got to the Bulls, he had lost a lot of the quickness that he had with the LA Clippers and the Cavaliers, because of the knee injuries, but he still had to have veteran savvy on how to play help defense, how to play lanes and, maybe once in a while, come from behind and block the shot, Gill said.
Those are the things that he provided, which were key for the Bulls because Michael and Scottie couldn’t do it always. Harp could take a guy for four or five minutes, give Scottie and Michael a little break. I think that’s where he was most important because he filled in as a utility guy. Let me give Scottie a break, let me give Michael a break, go guard Kevin Johnson. Things like that. It’s always a luxury for a championship team to have that.
A relatively unknown fact that Gill spoke about was how Harper’s defense during the 1998 Finals helped Bulls secure their second 3-peat. The final play of Game 6 in the 1998 NBA Finals is one of the most legendary plays in league history.
With a handful of seconds on the clock, MJ hit a jumper to give the Bulls a one-point lead. However, the Jazz still had a chance to force a Game 7 with few seconds remaining in regulation.
With the ball in Jazz’s point guard John Stockton’s hands during the final seconds, Harper played some incredible defense. Stockton would miss the 3-pointer, resulting in the Bulls winning their 6th chip.
Though the iconic Game 6 is known for MJ’s clutch jumper. It was Harper’s defense that helped seal the deal.