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On This Date in Sports June 16, 1996: The Unbeat-a-BULLS

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The Chicago Bulls resumed their dynasty with an 87-75 win over the Seattle SuperSonics in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the United Center. It is the Bulls fourth NBA Championship in six years, starting a second three title run. The championship on Father's Day is especially emotional for Michael Jordan, who retired to play baseball after his father's death in 1993. Jordan, who returned at the end of the 1995 season, had perhaps his best season, leading Chicago to 72 wins, as he was named NBA Finals MVP for the fourth time.

The Chicago Bulls were on top of the world in 1993, winning their third straight NBA Championship. A month later, Michael Jordan's father was murdered, leading the best player in the world to retire suddenly. The Bulls lost a hard-fought seven-game series to the New York Knicks in 1994, as Jordan pursued a baseball career with the Chicago White Sox. Late in the 1995 season, Michael Jordan decided to return to the NBA, wearing #45in tribute to his dad. The Bulls would fall to the Orlando Magic, as Anfernee Hardaway quipped #45 was not the same as #23. Michael Jordan took it personally and switched his number back to 23. 

The Chicago Bulls looked to strengthen their team and added the often enigmatic Dennis Rodman, who was the league's best rebounder and a top defensive star. This would spark the Bulls to a record 72 wins, as the Bulls' dominance for Phil Jackson reached unparalleled levels at 72-10.  The Bulls rampaged their way to the NBA Finals, sweeping the Miami Heat, beating the New York Knicks in five games, and sweeping the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Seattle Supersonics were the best in the west, posting a record of 64-18 for coach George Karl. The Sonics, who had two disappointing playoff exits in 1994 and 1995, came out strong in 1996, slaying the Sacramento Kings in four games. Then, after sweeping the two-time defending champion Houston Rockets, the Sonics survived a tough seven-game battle with the Utah Jazz to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 1979.

The Sonics played tough in Game 1 at the United Center, trailing by two points, with Shawn Kemp leading the way with 32 points as the fourth quarter began. However, Chicago hit the afterburners in the fourth quarter, limiting Seattle to 13 points as they won the opener 107-90. Seattle continued to show they were not going down without a fight as they battled hard in Game 2. However, Dennis Rodman dominated the boards with 20 rebounds; the Bulls got a 92-88 win and went to Seattle up 2-0. 

Game 3 would see the Bulls dominate in Seattle, as they jumped out to a 34-16 lead in the first quarter and never looked back, winning 108-86 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead. Not wanting to get swept, the SuperSonics flipped the script and scored a 107-86 win in Game 4. The Sonics also won Game 5 by a score of 89-78 as it seemed destined that the Bulls' great season would be capped with a championship in front of the home fans. 

Back at the United Center, it was the Bulls at their best. Scottie Pippen scoring 17, Michael Jordan scoring 22 points, while Dennis Rodman had 19 rebounds as the Bulls led all the way in an 87-75 win. After the game, Michael Jordan rushed to the locker and broke down in tears, remembering his father, who was murdered after the 1993 NBA Finals.