Inside the Bulls' locker room after first-round sweep of the Heat in 1996 playoffs

K.C. Johnson
NBC Sports Chicago

The postgame locker room felt like just another day. 

That's what stands out the most in the memory bank from May 1, 1996, the day the Bulls finished their sweep of the Heat in their best-of-five, first-round playoff series. 

Ho and hum. A successful business trip to Miami completed. Bring on the Knicks, the next obstacle in the quest for historic greatness. 

Yes, the Bulls celebrated a bit after Scottie Pippen's triple-double of 22 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists led the blowout on a day that Michael Jordan's tweaked back continued to dominate headlines. But it felt more like the typical hooting and hollering following any victory, not one that capped a sweep.

Pippen had publicly predicted the sweep anyway. And for a team that had won an NBA-record 72 regular-season games, the Bulls knew "it don't mean a thing if you don't get the ring."

A moment from the Game 2 victory back in Chicago stands out: The Bulls, already up 30, blew a defensive coverage. Pippen punched the air in frustration. So, a first-round playoff sweep? Just part of the gig.

This team was chasing greatness. This team was chasing perfection.

Pippen's greatness was on full display this game. He already had shown his ability to play Batman, not Robin, as Jordan pursued his baseball dreams. For those who need a reminder: How do averages of 22 points, 8.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game sound? That's what Pippen put up in 1993-94, Jordan's only full season in retirement.

So, yeah, Pippen knew how to handle Jordan's lingering sore back. 

"I knew Michael wasn't 100 percent, but it wasn't a case of me doing anything different than I've done all season," Pippen said that day. "I always make a concerted effort to go to the boards and play tough defense. It just so happened the ball bounced my way."

The performance marked Pippen's 17th career triple double, and his rebounds tied a career-high. The Bulls' average margin of victory in the three-game sweep was 23 points.

Twenty-three points. Even on a night Pippen dominated, the Bulls never could stray too far from any Jordan symbolism. What he had in store for the Knicks would be, well, back-breaking.

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Inside the Bulls' locker room after first-round sweep of the Heat in 1996 playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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