Ranking Michael Jordan’s Top 10 Chicago Bulls Teammates

Michael JordanSports fans all over the world have enjoyed watching “The Last Dance” over the past five weeks. It was an in-depth documentary on the Chicago Bulls career of NBA legend Michael Jordan that uncovered all sorts of behind-the-scene video footage and stories from his time in Chicago.

Jordan won six NBA championships with the Bulls, but he still needed plenty of help from his teammate. So let’s rank his top 10 teammates from his Bulls tenure that lasted from 1984 to 1993 and then again from 1995 to 1998.

The focus of this ranking is on the impact each player made while he was MJ’s teammate. Players like George Gervin, Robert Parish and Charles Oakley all played with Jordan, but the best years of their careers were not with the Bulls.

1. F Scottie Pippen

  • Seasons together: 10 (1987-1993, 1994-1998).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 6 championships, 6 All-Star appearances, 6 All-NBA appearances, 7 All-Defense appearances, 1 time leading the NBA in steals per game.

Pippen is the only viable choice for No. 1. Not only did he play with MJ longer than anyone else, he is the most talented teammate Jordan has played with at any one time. As a long, athletic defensive specialist who does a bit of everything, he complemented MJ perfectly.

How would have Pippen fared if he were on a team that built around him during his prime? We saw a bit of that in the nearly two seasons that Jordan played baseball and it actually went pretty well for the Bulls. Chicago stayed near the top of the Eastern Conference in both seasons and Pippen was an All-NBA First Team member both years.

2. F/C Horace Grant

  • Seasons together: 6 (1987-1993).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships, 1 All-Defense appearance.

Grant isn’t as big of a name as Dennis Rodman, the next guy on this list, but he played three extra seasons with MJ and was nearly as good as Rodman was throughout their respective Bulls tenures.

Jordan and Pippen formed the greatest duo in NBA history, but they still needed help to put together what would become an absolutely unbeatable team between 1991 and 1993. Grant was the best of the role players during that time, and he definitely bordered on “star” at certain points.

Grant was ruthlessly efficient inside the paint and he could hit the midrange jumper pretty consistently. He was an above-average interior defender, rebounder and passer.

3. F/C Dennis Rodman

  • Seasons together: 3 (1995-1998).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships, 1 All-Defense appearance, 3 times leading the NBA in rebounds per game.

Rodman played only three seasons with MJ, but both guys worked hard to make sure they counted. When “The Worm” played in Chicago, he was at the tail end of his prime and was honing his skills as the NBA’s best rebounder while remaining extremely effective on defense. His unpredictable personality caused several major moments of drama but he played hard at all times when the game clock was ticking.

Between the 1995-96 and 1997-98 seasons, Rodman had 72 games with at least 18 rebounds, including the postseason. The Bulls had a 65-7 record in those games. That should give you a pretty good idea of the value that Rodman provided to Chicago.

4. F Toni Kukoc

  • Seasons together: 4 (1994-1998).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships, 1 Sixth Man of the Year award.

Kukoc was a draft pick of the Bulls in 1990, but he didn’t join the team until 1993-94, the season immediately after Jordan first retired. Those first one and a half seasons without MJ allowed the Croatian sensation to blossom into a very effective playmaking forward.

By the time Jordan returned in March 1995, Kukoc had established himself as a consistent and efficient scorer and playmaker who deserved major minutes.

In the Bulls’ final three championship runs, Kukoc played both as a starter and a dominant sixth man as the team’s third offensive option who could create good looks for himself and his teammates.

5. G John Paxson

  • Seasons together: 8 (1985-1993).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships, 1 All-Defense appearance.

Paxson started 368 games at point guard during his Bulls tenure as MJ’s teammate. He was nowhere near an elite point guard, but he was the point guard the team needed next to MJ. It speaks volumes that the team kept him around for so long even after facing many playoff failures before its 1991 breakthrough.

The 6’2” role player earned MJ’s trust with extremely dependable spot-up shooting, good decision-making and serviceable defense. The last shot he took as Jordan’s teammate was a memorable one: the series-winning three-point basket against the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the 1993 Finals.

6. C Bill Cartwright

  • Seasons together: 5 (1988-1993).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships.

Sometimes, stats don’t tell the entire story of a player’s impact. Cartwright never stuffed the stat sheet as the starting center of the Bulls, as he typically hovered around 10 points and six rebounds per game with very few blocked shots. He had a weird way of shooting the ball and he wasn’t very graceful in his movements.

However, Cartwright was a very smart veteran player who used his knowledge to mentor teammates and help them develop their games. In fact, he was named the Bulls’ co-captain along with Jordan at one point.

7. G Ron Harper

  • Seasons together: 4 (1994-1998).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships.

Harper deserves a lot of respect for the way he adjusted his game to fit in as a member of the Bulls during their second three-peat. Early in his career, he was a high-scoring, slashing guard who functioned as one of the most important offensive options for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers between 1986 and 1994.

Upon joining the Bulls in 1994, he immediately took a backseat on the offensive end to Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, Toni Kukoc and B.J. Armstrong. He continued to play a smaller role when Michael Jordan returned from baseball the following spring.

Thankfully for the Bulls, Harper adjusted perfectly. He never averaged double-figure scoring numbers as MJ’s teammate, but he improved his spot-up shooting and used his 6’6” size to become an excellent defensive guard.

8. G B.J. Armstrong

  • Seasons together: 5 (1989-1993, 1994-95).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships, 1 time leading the NBA in three-point percentage.

Armstrong wasn’t amazing in any particular area of the game but he was pretty good in several areas. The 6’2” guard could shoot a bit, penetrate a bit, pass a bit and defend a bit. Armstrong steadily improved throughout the first Bulls three-peat and finally earned a starting spot in 1992-93, the season in which Chicago won its third championship.

The fact that the Bulls left the then 27-year-old guard unprotected in the 1995 NBA expansion draft does slightly tarnish his legacy as a Bull. While he was definitely a contributor to the first three championship teams, evidently he wasn’t valuable enough for the team to keep around for the next three championship runs.

9. G Steve Kerr

  • Seasons together: 4 (1994-1998).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships, 1 time leading the NBA in three-point percentage.

In the four seasons Kerr played with Jordan (including the postseason), he made 438 three-pointers in 926 attempts, good for a percentage of 47.3. Now, three of those seasons included a shorter three-point line for the NBA, but that is still a very impressive mark.

As a thin 6’3” guard who didn’t possess much quickness or strength, Kerr hardly provided anything aside from spot-up three-pointers and midrange jumpers, but he was so good at those things that he was still a great role player. The fact that he was very aware of his limitations also helped him succeed.

10. C Luc Longley

  • Seasons together: 4 (1994-1998).
  • Notable accolades as MJ’s teammate: 3 championships.

The Bulls never asked too much of their starting centers when Jordan was on the team. As long as they set screens and provided a physical presence near the basket, they generally gave the team what it needed.

Longley, at 7’2” and 265 pounds, was a capable physical presence for the team to have. The Australian big man didn’t make a spectacular impact by any means, but he didn’t hurt the team. He was a good free-throw shooter for a big man and he also dished out a nifty pass every now and then.