One of the biggest reasons behind the break-up of the Chicago Bulls dynasty was the management's decision to move forward with a new head coach after their sixth title in 1998.
As could be seen in the first episode of "The Last Dance" that released worldwide on Netflix this past Monday (April 20), Phil Jackson began the 1997-98 season with the certainty that it would be his last as the head coach of the Bulls. This was made clear by Jerry Krause, the general manager of the franchise at the time.
"This is going to be your last year" was Krause's direct message to Jackson, as recounted by the coach in the documentary, after agreeing to a one-year renewal for the 1997-1998 season.
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What was in Krause's mind? He wanted to rebuild and he had already chosen Jackson's successor, a man by the name of Tim Floyd.
There was even speculation that Floyd had been in Chicago following the team's 1997 title run. However, the pressure exerted by Michael Jordan twisted the general manager's arm.
"I'm not going to play for a coach other than Phil," Jordan said.
Eventually, Floyd took over the Bulls' head coaching job in 1998, but to nobody's surprise, it was without the likes of Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.
Prior to joining the Bulls, Floyd had spent all of his coaching career in the NCAA. He had coached at the University of Idaho from 1986 to 1988 before spending six years in New Orleans. He then spent the next four seasons coaching at Iowa State University.
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While it is difficult to judge Floyd's record with the Bulls given the lack of talent at his disposal, it quickly became clear that he was not the "next Phil Jackson." The Bulls went 13-37 in the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season, followed by 17-65 in 1999-00, 15-67 in 2000-01 and 4-21 in 2001-02 before he resigned.
An overall record of 49-190 over four years marked the Floyd era in Illinois.
Interestingly, he did receive a second chance the following year with the Charlotte Hornets. This time, the team finished with a better record than any of his years with the Bulls.
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With Baron Davis and Jamal Mashburn at the helm, the Hornets finished the regular season of 41-41. They qualified for the playoffs but were eliminated in seven games by the Miami Heat. Given that the team was coming off 47 wins the earlier season, his achievement wasn't looked at with the best eyes and he was dismissed at the end of the season.
Floyd finished with a 90-231 (28%) record in the NBA and only one playoff appearance in five years.
In less than a year, he was back in the NCAA. Floyd led USC for four seasons and then UTEP for eight seasons before announcing his retirement in 2017-18. His record at the college level? A much better 465-280 (62%).
But, of course, the lights of the best league are not for everyone.
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