Chicago Bulls: John Paxson’s downfall from hero to villain

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

John Paxson just may be the most hated man in Chicago Bulls history. But in his prime, Paxson played a crucial role in four championships.

What if I told you that John Paxson was once a hero to Chicago Bulls fans?

Chances are, that may be impossible to believe if you were born any time after 1990.

25 years ago, the mention of the name “John Paxson” would bring a smile to even the most casual of Bulls fans, and perhaps a tear from the most dedicated.

After an impressive career at Notre Dame, Paxson was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs. He spent three years there before joining the Bulls in 1985.

Paxson proved himself invaluable for the young Bulls, quickly becoming a clutch three-point shooter. He played a significant part in the Bulls first three championships.

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Viewed by some as the greatest three-point shooter in Bulls history, Paxson cemented his place in Bulls lore in 1993.

Down two to the Suns in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals, the Bulls were on the verge of going to a decisive Game 7 in Phoenix.

But with 3.9 seconds left, Paxson drained a 3-pointer to put the Bulls ahead 99-98. It was the dagger in the Suns’ heart, as the Bulls clinched their third consecutive championship.

Paxson was a hero.

Two years later, Paxson was back on the West Side of Chicago. This time, he was in a suit instead of a uniform.

Hall of Fame Bulls coach Phil Jackson wasted no time in bringing Paxson back to the Bulls, hiring him as an assistant coach for the team.

Paxson was on the roster as an assistant coach for the team’s fourth championship in 1995-96. It was the most successful season in Bulls history, as the team won a record 72 games in Jordan’s first full year back from retirement and his stint in Minor League Baseball.

Yes, that’s four rings that Paxson played a role in winning. Four of six rings.

His success is no more than an afterthought to even the most longtime fans, as just his name could cause a clenched fist and sneer given the team’s dismal state under the “leadership” of Paxson.

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Unless the Bulls turn around and experience legitimate success under Paxson and general manager Gar Forman, Paxson’s reputation will almost certainly be tainted forever. Gone are the days when Chicago celebrated his success and contributions to the Bulls.

Perhaps there are some folks who would like Paxson to return to glory. After all, he did play a significant role in four championships.

But until and unless that happens, Paxson may want to lay low in Chicago. Maybe he should keep hiding in the shadow of Jordan.