Popeye Jones Reminisces on Raptors Beating Jordan’s Bulls in 1996

Michael Jordan and Popeye Jones

We are four days away from the debut of the first of ten episodes of ‘The Last Dance’ featuring the final season [1998] of the Chicago Bulls dynasty. As we all know, the Bulls would later go on to beat the Utah Jazz for the second straight year to become NBA Champions.

Two seasons before what we knew as ‘The Last Dance,’ the Bulls would set the regular-season record of 72-10; the 2016 Golden State Warriors have since eclipsed it. One of the teams that are responsible for one of those losses is the Toronto Raptors, who were an expansion team during the 1995-96 season.

Indiana Pacers coach assistant coach Popeye Jones was a member of the Toronto Raptors when they beat Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1996.

“I always tease him one of those regular-season losses I was on an expansion Toronto Raptors team, and we beat their butts. In Toronto and gave them on of their losses, but then we went to Chicago, and he had ice on his knees midway through the third [quarter], and they were up by 30 on us,” said Jones.

As Jones noted, the Toronto Raptors went on to beat the Bulls by a score of 109-108 on March 24, 1996. Michael Jordan would attempt to win the game on the final shot. He would hit that shot, but unfortunately for Jordan and the Bulls, the time had expired before the ball left his hands.

The Raptors would finish their first season in league with a 21-61 record. That Raptors team also featured the 1995–96 Rookie of the Year, Damon Stoudamire, who averaged  19.0 points and 9.3 assists per game.

Jones also shared that he will be tuning to watch Jordan’s documentary on April 19, 2020.

“I’m definitely going to watch the documentary and witness all the things that he [Jordan] has done for the game of basketball and teaching my kids about him. Showing that I have an autograph pair of Jordan’s shoes and a basketball that he signed for me and things that  will keep for life and pass it down my kids.”

During his ten year career in the NBA, Popeye Jones averaged 7.0 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game while playing for six different teams (Dallas Mavericks, Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards, Golden State Warriors, Toronto Raptors, and Denver Nuggets).


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