Michael Jordan
The 1990s were a golden era for the professional basketball landscape, and it was largely thanks to Michael Jordan’s rise to greatness.

Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominated the American sports world that decade, winning an incredible six NBA championships over an eight-year span from 1991 to ‘98. They endured their first three-peat from 1991 to ‘93 before putting the cherry on top with three more in ‘96, ‘97 and ‘98.

The ‘90s marked a massive boom in the technology industry, with the worldwide web, cell phones and video game consoles becoming a much bigger part of everyday life. The Bulls’ dynastic run coincided with the rise of technology, making Jordan one of the world’s most marketed and followed athletes.

It’s been 24 years since the Bulls last reached (and won) the NBA Finals, but Jordan’s mark on the franchise is still tremendously felt in The Windy City sports lore.

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MJ was named the NBA Finals MVP in all of the Bulls’ championship series. He also won the league MVP in the 1991, ‘92, ‘96 and ‘98 campaigns. And to think he could have done even more if he wasn’t retired for the 1993-94 campaign nor the majority of 1994-95.

The ‘90s decade belonged to Jordan and the Bulls, and there’s no telling how much different the NBA would have been without their historic dominance.

Karl Malone
If it weren’t for Jordan’s Bulls, perhaps we’d be talking about a Malone-led Utah Jazz dynasty.

The Mailman and John Stockton formed one of the greatest scoring duos in NBA history, but Malone was undoubtedly the engine of the offense. He was named an All-Star every year from 1990 to ‘98 (there was no All-Star game in 1999 because of the lockout).

Malone won the 1997 and ‘99 MVP award and led Utah to the NBA Finals in the former year and again in 1998. Of course, they fell just short against MJ’s dynastic Bulls in six games on both occasions.

Many regard Malone as the best NBA player to never win a championship.

Hakeem Olajuwon
As previously mentioned, Jordan was retired for the 1993-94 campaign and the majority of 1994-95. And Olajuwon’s Houston Rockets took advantage of The GOAT’s brief NBA sabbatical.

Olajuwon was drafted first overall by the Rockets in 1984, two picks before Jordan went to the Bulls. The do-it-all center led Houston to consecutive NBA Championships in the 1994 and 1995 seasons, and he was named Finals MVP both years.

The 1994 league MVP did most of his damage as a scorer, but he was an all-world defender as well. Olajuwon won consecutive Defensive Player of the Year awards (1993 and ‘94) and led the league in blocks three times over a four-year span from 1990 to ‘93.

Charles Barkley
Barkley, like Malone, is one of the all-time greats who never won the NBA title.

“Sir Charles” was a difference-maker for three different franchises in the ‘90s decade: The Philadelphia 76ers, the Phoenix Suns and Olajuwon’s Rockets. Unfortunately, luck just wasn’t on Barkley’s side in the postseason.

He reached the NBA Finals just once in his career, as a member of the Suns in 1993. They lost to none other than Jordan’s Bulls. Barkley won the 1993 league MVP and earned All-Star nods every year from 1990 to ‘97. The Hall of Famer averaged over 20 points per game every season from 1989-90 to 1995-96.

David Robinson
Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich were the two main architects of the San Antonio Spurs’ dynasty that won five titles between 1999 and 2014, but make no mistake: The dynasty doesn’t start without David Robinson.

Like Olajuwon, Robinson was a first overall pick (in the 1987 draft) who changed the game at both ends of the court. Robinson won the 1995 MVP award and earned All-Star nods every year in the decade except for 1997.

Once Duncan landed in San Antonio, the NBA changed forever. Robinson and Duncan formed the super “Twin Towers” duo and led the Spurs to NBA titles together in 1999 and 2003.