The 1996–97 NBA season was the 51st season of the National Basketball Association (NBA). The league used this season to mark its 50th anniversary, which included the unveiling of the league's list of its 50 greatest players. This particular season featured what has since been acknowledged as one of the most talented rookie-classes, featuring the debuts of Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Jermaine O'Neal, Ben Wallace and Stephon Marbury. The season ended with the Chicago Bulls defeating the Utah Jazz 4 games to 2 in the NBA Finals to win the franchise's 5th championship.
|1996–97 NBA season|
|League||National Basketball Association|
|Duration||November 1, 1996 – April 20, 1997 |
April 24 – May 29, 1997 (Playoffs)
June 1 – 13, 1997 (Finals)
|Number of teams||29|
|TV partner(s)||NBC, TBS, TNT|
|Top draft pick||Allen Iverson|
|Picked by||Philadelphia 76ers|
|Top seed||Chicago Bulls|
|Season MVP||Karl Malone (Utah)|
|Top scorer||Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)|
|Eastern champions||Chicago Bulls|
|Eastern runners-up||Miami Heat|
|Western champions||Utah Jazz|
|Western runners-up||Houston Rockets|
|Finals MVP||Michael Jordan (Chicago)|
The 1996 NBA lockout was the second lockout of four in the history of the NBA. It lasted for a couple of hours on July 10, 1996. The lockout was imposed after the league and the player's union could not reach an agreement involving $50 million in profit sharing from the television revenue. The league requested 50 percent of those profits to be applied toward player salaries while the union wanted more money to be included. After a few hours of talks, the league agreed to allocate an additional $14 million per season in television revenue toward the salary cap during the last four years of the six-year agreement. The lockout was ended only a few hours after it was announced and the agreement was reached.
|Team||1995–96 coach||1996–97 coach|
|Charlotte Hornets||Allan Bristow||Dave Cowens|
|Dallas Mavericks||Dick Motta||Jim Cleamons|
|Milwaukee Bucks||Mike Dunleavy, Sr.||Chris Ford|
|New Jersey Nets||Butch Beard||John Calipari|
|Philadelphia 76ers||John Lucas||Johnny Davis|
|Phoenix Suns||Cotton Fitzsimmons||Danny Ainge|
|Toronto Raptors||Brendan Malone||Darrell Walker|
|Team||Outgoing coach||Incoming coach|
|Denver Nuggets||Bernie Bickerstaff||Dick Motta|
|Orlando Magic||Brian Hill||Richie Adubato|
|Sacramento Kings||Garry St. Jean||Eddie Jordan|
|San Antonio Spurs||Bob Hill||Gregg Popovich|
|Vancouver Grizzlies||Brian Winters||Stu Jackson|
|Washington Bullets||Jim Lynam||Bob Staak|
|Bob Staak||Bernie Bickerstaff|
|x-New York Knicks||57||25||.695||4||31–10||26–15||19–6|
|New Jersey Nets||26||56||.317||35||16–25||10–31||11–13|
|San Antonio Spurs||20||62||.244||44||12–29||8–33||8–16|
|x-Los Angeles Lakers||56||26||.683||1||31–10||25–16||18–6|
|x-Portland Trail Blazers||49||33||.598||8||29–12||20–21||15–9|
|x-Los Angeles Clippers||36||46||.439||21||21–20||15–26||10–14|
|Golden State Warriors||30||52||.366||27||18–23||12–29||4–20|
|3||x-New York Knicks||57||25||.695||12|
|13||New Jersey Nets||26||56||.317||43|
|4||x-Los Angeles Lakers||56||26||.683||8|
|5||x-Portland Trail Blazers||49||33||.598||15|
|8||x-Los Angeles Clippers||36||46||.439||28|
|10||Golden State Warriors||30||52||.366||34|
|13||San Antonio Spurs||20||62||.244||44|
Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the number of games the team won in that round. The division champions are marked by an asterisk. Home court advantage does not necessarily belong to the higher-seeded team, but instead the team with the better regular season record; teams enjoying the home advantage are shown in italics.
|First Round||Conference Semifinals||Conference Finals||NBA Finals|
|Points per game||Michael Jordan||Chicago Bulls||29.6|
|Rebounds per game||Dennis Rodman||Chicago Bulls||16.1|
|Assists per game||Mark Jackson||Indiana Pacers||11.4|
|Steals per game||Mookie Blaylock||Atlanta Hawks||2.72|
|Blocks per game||Shawn Bradley||New Jersey Nets||3.40|
|FG%||Gheorghe Mureșan||Washington Bullets||.604|
|FT%||Mark Price||Golden State Warriors||.906|
|3FG%||Glen Rice||Charlotte Hornets||.470|
Note: All information on this page was obtained from the History section of NBA.com
The following players were named NBA Player of the Week.
|Nov. 1 – Nov. 10||Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets)|
|Nov. 11 – Nov. 17||Dale Ellis (Denver Nuggets)|
|Nov. 18 – Nov. 24 (tie)||Charles Barkley (Houston Rockets)|
|Nov. 18 – Nov. 24 (tie)||Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)|
|Nov. 25 – Dec. 1||Dikembe Mutombo (Atlanta Hawks)|
|Dec. 2 – Dec. 8||Terry Mills (Detroit Pistons)|
|Dec. 9 – Dec. 15||Shaquille O'Neal (Los Angeles Lakers)|
|Dec. 16 – Dec. 22||Terrell Brandon (Cleveland Cavaliers)|
|Dec. 23 – Dec. 29||Tim Hardaway (Miami Heat)|
|Dec. 30 – Jan. 5||Glen Rice (Charlotte Hornets)|
|Jan. 6 – Jan. 12||Glenn Robinson (Milwaukee Bucks)|
|Jan. 13 – Jan. 19||Grant Hill (Detroit Pistons)|
|Jan. 20 – Jan. 26||Mitch Richmond (Sacramento Kings)|
|Jan. 27 – Feb. 2||Glen Rice (Charlotte Hornets)|
|Feb. 11 – Feb. 16||Alonzo Mourning (Miami Heat)|
|Feb. 17 – Feb. 23||Scottie Pippen (Chicago Bulls)|
|Feb. 24 – Mar. 2||Loy Vaught (Los Angeles Clippers)|
|Mar. 3 – Mar. 9||Patrick Ewing (New York Knicks)|
|Mar. 10 – Mar. 16||Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)|
|Mar. 17 – Mar. 23||Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)|
|Mar. 24 – Mar. 30||Kevin Johnson (Phoenix Suns)|
|Apr. 1 – Apr. 6||Grant Hill (Detroit Pistons)|
|Apr. 7 – Apr. 13||Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers)|
|Apr. 14 – Apr. 20||Chris Webber (Washington Bullets)|
The following players were named NBA Player of the Month.
|November||Michael Jordan (Chicago Bulls)|
|December||Shaquille O'Neal (Los Angeles Lakers)|
|January||Grant Hill (Detroit Pistons)|
|February||Glen Rice (Charlotte Hornets)|
|March||Karl Malone (Utah Jazz)|
|April||Kevin Johnson (Phoenix Suns)|
The following players were named NBA Rookie of the Month.
|November||Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers)|
|December (tie)||Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Vancouver Grizzlies)|
|December (tie)||Kerry Kittles (New Jersey Nets)|
|January||Stephon Marbury (Minnesota Timberwolves)|
|February||Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Vancouver Grizzlies)|
|March||Marcus Camby (Toronto Raptors)|
|April||Allen Iverson (Philadelphia 76ers)|
The following coaches were named NBA Coach of the Month.
|November||Rudy Tomjanovich (Houston Rockets)|
|December||Pat Riley (Miami Heat)|
|January||Lenny Wilkens (Atlanta Hawks)|
|February||Doug Collins (Detroit Pistons)|
|March||Jerry Sloan (Utah Jazz)|
|April||Dave Cowens (Charlotte Hornets)|
The 1996 NBA draft was the 50th draft in the National Basketball Association (NBA). It was held on June 26, 1996 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. In this draft, NBA teams took turns selecting college basketball players and other first-time eligible players, such as players from high schools and non-North American leagues. The Vancouver Grizzlies had the highest probability to win the NBA draft lottery, but since they were an expansion team along with the Toronto Raptors, they were not allowed to select first in this draft. The team with the second highest probability, the Philadelphia 76ers, won the lottery and obtained the first selection. The Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies were second and third respectively.
Allen Iverson, a sophomore from Georgetown was selected first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers.
It is widely considered to be one of the deepest and most talented NBA drafts in history, with one-third of the first round picks later becoming NBA All-Stars. The draft class produced three players who won NBA MVP awards (Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash), seven other drafted players who became All-Stars (Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Ray Allen, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, Stephon Marbury, Jermaine O'Neal, Peja Stojaković, Antoine Walker), and one undrafted All-Star (Ben Wallace), for a grand total of 11 All-Stars. Moreover, eight players from this draft class have been named to at least one All-NBA Team, the most among any draft. The draft class also produced three players who have been named to the NBA's all-defensive first team: Bryant, Marcus Camby, and Wallace. Camby won the Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2007, while Wallace earned the same award in 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006. Eventual 5-time NBA champion Derek Fisher was also included in the draft.
On April 13, 2016, Bryant played his final NBA game, making him the last player from this draft to play in the NBA. He scored sixty points in the last game as the final player of this draft.
Most experts rate it along with the 1984 NBA draft and 2003 NBA draft as one of the best drafts in history. Sports Illustrated named it the second-best, behind the 1984 draft, which included a draft class of Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, and John Stockton.1996–97 Boston Celtics season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the 51st season for the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association. Celebrating its 50th anniversary as one of the NBA's original franchises, the Celtics struggled all season losing players like Dino Radja, Dana Barros, Dee Brown, Greg Minor and Pervis Ellison all to injuries. The team suffered through their worst season posting a 13-game losing streak between February and March, then losing ten straight games near the end of the season. The Celtics lost 34 of their final 38 games finishing last place in the Atlantic Division with a 15–67 record, which is the team's worst record in franchise history. Top draft pick Antoine Walker led the team with 17.5 points and 9.0 rebounds per game, while being selected to the All-Rookie First Team.
Following the season, head coach M.L. Carr was fired, Rick Fox signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers, David Wesley signed with the Charlotte Hornets, Todd Day signed with the Miami Heat, and second-year forward Eric Williams was traded to the Denver Nuggets. This was also Radja's final season in the NBA. After failing his physical exam voiding a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers during the offseason, he returned to play in Europe.1996–97 Denver Nuggets season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Nuggets' 21st season in the National Basketball Association, and 30th season as a franchise. In the offseason, the Nuggets acquired Mark Jackson and Ricky Pierce from the Indiana Pacers, and signed free agent Ervin Johnson. However, after a 4–9 start to the season, Bernie Bickerstaff was forced out as head coach and replaced with Dick Motta, where the Nuggets then lost ten straight games along the way. Midway through the season, Jackson was traded back to the Indiana Pacers, while Pierce was dealt to the Charlotte Hornets. Meanwhile, the Nuggets signed free agent Kenny Smith, who won championships with the Houston Rockets. As the season drew, the Nuggets still struggled losing 26 of their final 30 games, finishing fifth in the Midwest Division with a 21–61 record. Despite playing just 55 games due to a knee injury and a ruptured achilles tendon, LaPhonso Ellis led the team in scoring with a career high of 21.9 points per game.
Following the season, second-year star Antonio McDyess was traded to the Phoenix Suns, Dale Ellis was traded back to the Seattle SuperSonics, Johnson was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks, Tom Hammonds signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Smith retired and Motta was fired as coach.1996–97 Detroit Pistons season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Pistons' 49th season in the National Basketball Association, and 40th season in the city of Detroit. During the offseason, the Pistons re-signed free agent Rick Mahorn, who was a member of the championship team in the 1989 NBA Finals. The team also acquired Stacey Augmon and Grant Long from the Atlanta Hawks, but later on sent Augmon to the Portland Trail Blazers for Aaron McKie at midseason. The Pistons got off to a fast start winning ten of their first eleven games on their way to a 20–4 start. However, they went 34–24 for the remainder of the season finishing third in the Central Division with a 54–28 record. Grant Hill averaged 21.4 points, 9.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game, while finishing third in MVP voting behind Karl Malone and Michael Jordan. Hill along with Joe Dumars, and head coach Doug Collins represented the Eastern Conference during the 1997 NBA All-Star Game.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Pistons would lose in five games to the Atlanta Hawks after taking a 2–1 series lead. Following the season, Otis Thorpe was traded to the Vancouver Grizzlies, Terry Mills signed as a free agent with the Miami Heat, and Michael Curry signed with the Milwaukee Bucks.
For the season, the Pistons changed their logo and uniforms, adding teal to their color scheme. Their logo and uniforms both lasted until 2001.1996–97 Golden State Warriors season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Warriors' 51st season in the National Basketball Association, and 35th in the San Francisco Bay Area. Due to extensive renovations at the Oakland Coliseum Arena, the Warriors played their home games at the San Jose Arena. In the offseason, the team signed free agent All-Star guard Mark Price, then traded Rony Seikaly to the Orlando Magic for Felton Spencer early into the season. At midseason, the team acquired Scott Burrell from the Charlotte Hornets. The Warriors struggled for the entire season and finished last place in the Pacific Division with a 30–52 record. Latrell Sprewell averaged 24.2 points per game and was selected for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. Second-year star Joe Smith continued to improve averaging 18.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
This season also marked an end of an era as Chris Mullin was traded to the Indiana Pacers the following season. Also following the season, Price was dealt to the Orlando Magic, Burrell was sent to the Chicago Bulls, and head coach Rick Adelman was fired.1996–97 Indiana Pacers season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Pacers' 21st season in the National Basketball Association, and 30th season as a franchise. During the offseason, the Pacers acquired Jalen Rose from the Denver Nuggets. Injuries and sluggish play would hamper the Pacers all season long as Rik Smits only played just 52 games due to a foot injury, and Derrick McKey appeared in just 50 games due to a ruptured Achilles tendon. They missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years with a disappointing 39–43 record, sixth in the Central Division. Reggie Miller averaged 21.6 points per game and led the league with 229 three-point field goals. At midseason, the Pacers brought back playmaker Mark Jackson in exchange for Eddie Johnson after a brief stint with the Denver Nuggets. Jackson would remain with the Pacers until 2000, where the team reached the NBA Finals. He also led the league with 11.4 assists per game.
Following the season, head coach Larry Brown, who won his 600th game during the season was forced to resign. He would later on take a coaching job with the Philadelphia 76ers. Also following the season, top draft pick Erick Dampier was traded to the Golden State Warriors.1996–97 Los Angeles Lakers season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Los Angeles Lakers' 49th season in the National Basketball Association, and 37th in the city of Los Angeles. During the offseason, the Lakers signed free agent All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal to a seven-year, $120 million deal, and acquired high school star Kobe Bryant from the Charlotte Hornets, who selected him with the 13th pick in the 1996 NBA draft. Other offseason acquisitions included signing former Lakers guard Byron Scott, and free agents Jerome Kersey and Sean Rooks. In January, they traded Cedric Ceballos back to the Phoenix Suns for Robert Horry, who won championships with the Houston Rockets. O'Neal finished fourth in the league in scoring averaging 26.2 points per game, but only played just 51 games due to a knee injury.
During the final month of the season in a game against the Dallas Mavericks on April 6, the Lakers held the Mavs to just two points in the third quarter in an 87–80 win. It was the fewest points in a quarter of a game in NBA history. The Lakers finished second in the Pacific Division with a 56–26 record. O'Neal and Eddie Jones were both selected for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. However, O'Neal did not play due to injury. Bryant was selected to the All-Rookie Second Team. He also won the Slam Dunk Contest during the All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.
In the first round of the postseason, the Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in four games. However, in the semifinals, they lost in five games to the Utah Jazz. Following the season, Scott retired and Kersey signed as a free agent with the Seattle SuperSonics.1996–97 Milwaukee Bucks season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Bucks' 29th season in the National Basketball Association. In the 1996 NBA draft, the Bucks selected Georgia Tech point guard Stephon Marbury with the fourth pick, but soon traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for rookie shooting guard Ray Allen out of Connecticut. The team also signed free agents Armen Gilliam and Andrew Lang, while acquiring Elliot Perry from the Phoenix Suns. Under new head coach Chris Ford, the Bucks appeared to be on their way breaking out of the gate with a 15–11 start. However, they couldn't maintain that momentum and missed the playoffs again by finishing seventh in the Central Division with a 33–49 record. Vin Baker made his third straight All-Star appearance in the 1997 NBA All-Star Game, and Allen was selected to the All-Rookie Second Team averaging 13.4 points per game.
Following the season, Baker was traded to the Seattle SuperSonics in an offseason three-team trade, Johnny Newman was dealt to the Denver Nuggets, and Sherman Douglas, who was involved in a trade with Cleveland signed as a free agent with the New Jersey Nets.1996–97 Minnesota Timberwolves season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Timberwolves' 8th season in the National Basketball Association. In the 1996 NBA draft, the Timberwolves selected Connecticut shooting guard Ray Allen with the fifth pick, but soon traded him to the Milwaukee Bucks for rookie point guard Stephon Marbury out of Georgia Tech. Offseason acquisitions included acquiring James Robinson from the Portland Trail Blazers, and Cherokee Parks from the Dallas Mavericks, while signing free agents Dean Garrett and Chris Carr. The addition of Marbury made a positive effect on the entire team, as second-year star Kevin Garnett and Tom Gugliotta became the first Wolves to be selected to the All-Star team, both being selected for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game.
The Timberwolves went on to make their first ever playoff appearance, finishing third in the Midwest Division with a 40–42 record. Marbury was selected to the All-Rookie First Team. In the first round of the playoffs, they were swept by the Houston Rockets in three straight games. Following the season, Robinson was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers, and Garrett signed with the Denver Nuggets.
For the season, the Timberwolves changed their logo and uniforms adding dark blue and black to their color scheme. Their logo and uniforms would both last until 2008.1996–97 New York Knicks season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the 51st season for the New York Knicks in the National Basketball Association. In the regular season, the Knicks finished in second place in the Atlantic Division with a 57–25 record, and made the NBA Playoffs for the 10th consecutive year.During the offseason, the Knicks acquired All-Star forward Larry Johnson from the Charlotte Hornets, while signing free agents Allan Houston, Chris Childs and Buck Williams. The Knicks enjoyed a successful season, with their 57 wins tied for the third-most in franchise history; they finished second in the Atlantic Division and third in the Eastern Conference. John Starks was named the Sixth Man of the Year, and Patrick Ewing was selected to the 1997 NBA All-Star Game (he did not play due to a groin injury), earned All-NBA Second Team honors, and was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. In the last game of the season, at the United Center, the Knicks defeated the then-69–12 Chicago Bulls, preventing them from posting two consecutive 70-win seasons in a row, and tying the best home record (40–1 set by the 1985–86 Boston Celtics).In the playoffs, New York defeated the Charlotte Hornets in a three-game sweep in the first round and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they faced the Miami Heat in what would eventually become the first chapter of one of the fiercest NBA rivalries of the period. After jumping to a 3–1 lead in the series, the Knicks were eliminated by the Heat in seven games, after a brawl erupted at the end of Game 5 that led to the suspensions of five key Knicks players: Ewing, Houston, Johnson, Starks and Charlie Ward. Following the season, John Wallace was traded to the Toronto Raptors, and Walter McCarty was dealt to the Boston Celtics.1996–97 Philadelphia 76ers season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the 76ers 48th season in the National Basketball Association, and 34th season in Philadelphia. After two seasons at Georgetown, point guard Allen Iverson was selected first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1996 NBA draft. Iverson quickly established himself as one of the premier point guards in the NBA averaging 23.5 points per game. He was named 1997 Rookie of the Year and was a member of the NBA All-Rookie First Team. During the offseason, the Sixers acquired Don MacLean from the Denver Nuggets and signed free agents Mark Davis, Lucious Harris and Michael Cage. The Sixers played around .500 in November with a 7–8 start to the season. However, they struggled and lost 23 of their next 24 games, including 11 and 13-game losing streaks posted respectively. The Sixers lost ten of their final eleven games, and finished sixth in the Atlantic Division with a 22–60 record.
The team also moved into the new 20,000 plus seat CoreStates Center (now the Wells Fargo Center), after calling The Spectrum home from 1967 to 1996. Head coach Johnny Davis and General Manager Brad Greenberg were both fired after Iverson's first season with the club. Following the season, MacLean, Harris and Cage were all traded to the New Jersey Nets.1996–97 Portland Trail Blazers season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the 27th season for the Portland Trail Blazers in the National Basketball Association. During the offseason, the Blazers signed free agent Kenny Anderson while acquiring Isaiah Rider from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and second-year forward Rasheed Wallace from the Washington Bullets. The Blazers would hover around .500 for most of the first half of the season as they traded Aaron McKie to the Detroit Pistons for Stacey Augmon at midseason. However, they posted a 13–2 record in March including an 11-game winning streak. The Blazers finished the season third in the Pacific Division, and fifth in the Western Conference with a 49–33 record. Making their 15th straight trip to the postseason and 20th in 21 years.
The Blazers faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, and were defeated 1–3, marking the fifth straight year they were eliminated in the first round. Following the season, Clifford Robinson signed as a free agent with the Phoenix Suns, and Chris Dudley was traded to the New York Knicks.1996–97 Sacramento Kings season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Kings' 48th season in the National Basketball Association, and 12th season in Sacramento. During the offseason, the Kings acquired Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf from the Denver Nuggets. Coming off their first playoff appearance in ten years, expectations in Sacramento were high. However, the Kings struggled with an 8–17 start as Brian Grant played just 24 games due to a shoulder injury. The Kings would rebound to get back into playoff connection with a 28–32 record. However, they went on a 7-game losing streak in March as head coach Garry St. Jean was fired, and replaced with assistant Eddie Jordan. The Kings finished sixth in the Pacific Division with a 34–48 record, missing the playoffs by just two games. Mitch Richmond finished fifth in the league in scoring averaging 25.9 points per game, while being selected for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game.
Following the season, Grant signed as a free agent with the Portland Trail Blazers, second-year guard Tyus Edney signed with the Boston Celtics, Duane Causwell was traded to the Miami Heat, and Lionel Simmons and Kevin Gamble both retired.1996–97 San Antonio Spurs season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Spurs' 21st season in the National Basketball Association, and 30th season as a franchise. During the offseason, the Spurs signed free agent and former All-Star Dominique Wilkins, who played in Greece last season, while re-signing free agent Vernon Maxwell. However, without All-Star center David Robinson, who played just six games due to back and foot injuries, and Chuck Person, who was out for the entire season with an offseason back injury, the Spurs struggled losing 13 of their first 15 games in November. After 18 games, head coach Bob Hill was fired and replaced with General Manager Gregg Popovich. Wilkins appeared in 63 games and led the team with 18.2 points per game. However, it would not be nearly enough as the Spurs finished sixth in the Midwest Division with an awful 20–62 record.
Since the Spurs joined the NBA in 1976, this was only the fourth time they missed the playoffs. As of 2019, this was the Spurs' most recent season in which they failed to make the playoffs, due in large part to turning the lottery pick they earned in 1997 into perennial All-Star Tim Duncan, whom would create a dynasty that won them their first championship 2 years later. Following the season, Wilkins left to play overseas, and Maxwell was released.1996–97 Washington Bullets season
The 1996–97 NBA season was the Bullets' 36th season in the National Basketball Association. During the offseason, the Bullets acquired Rod Strickland from the Portland Trail Blazers, and signed free agent Tracy Murray. Despite a stellar season last year, Juwan Howard signed a 7-year $100 million contract with the Miami Heat. However, the deal was voided claiming that Miami exceeded their salary cap. The Bullets quickly re-signed Howard, but would lose their first round draft pick next year.With a record of 22–24 at midseason, the Bullets fired head coach Jim Lynam, then after playing one game under assistant Bob Staak, they hired Bernie Bickerstaff as their new coach. Under Bickerstaff, the Bullets finished the season winning 16 of their final 21 games. On the final day of the regular season, the Bullets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 85–81 at the Gund Arena to capture the #8 seed in the Eastern Conference. They finished fourth in the Atlantic Division with a 44–38 record, ending an eight-year playoff drought. Chris Webber led the team in scoring, rebounding and block shots. He was also selected for the 1997 NBA All-Star Game.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Bullets were swept by the defending champion Chicago Bulls in three straight games. This would be their final playoff appearance until 2005. Game 3 of that series at US Airways Arena was officially their final game as the "Bullets". Following the season, the team changed its name to the "Wizards".1997 NBA All-Star Game
The 1997 NBA All-Star Game was the 47th edition of the All-Star Game and commemorated the 50th anniversary of NBA. The game was played on February 9, 1997, at Gund Arena (now known as Quicken Loans Arena) in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. The winner of the MVP award was Glen Rice of the Charlotte Hornets who played 25 minutes and scored 26 points while breaking two records in the process, 20 points in the third quarter and 24 points in the second half. Rice's 20 points in the period broke Hal Greer's record (19), set in 1968. Rice's 24 points in a half surpassed the previous mark of 23, owned by Wilt Chamberlain and Tom Chambers. Michael Jordan's 14 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists were the first and, until the 2011 NBA All-Star Game, the only triple-double in NBA All-Star Game history (LeBron James (2011), Dwyane Wade (2012), and Kevin Durant (2017) have also achieved this). Five players (Charles Barkley, Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Shaquille O'Neal) who were voted or selected for the team opted out due to injury, opening the doors for the annually neglected and the new stars—Joe Dumars, Detlef Schrempf, Chris Webber, Chris Gatling and 20-year-old second-year man Kevin Garnett took their spots.
For this NBA All-Star Game, and the next four games that were played (1998, 2000–02), no special uniforms were issued, and the players simply wore the uniforms from their respective teams, an approach that is used by Major League Baseball for its All-Star Game.
The halftime show featured a ceremony honoring the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. Of the 50 players named, three were not present: Pete Maravich (who died in 1988), Shaquille O'Neal (who was recovering from a knee injury), and Jerry West (who was having surgery for an ear infection).1997 NBA Finals
The 1997 NBA Finals was the concluding series of the 1997 NBA Playoffs that determined the champion of the 1996–97 NBA season. The Western Conference champion Utah Jazz took on the Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls for the title, with the Bulls holding home court advantage. The series were played under a best-of-seven format, with the first 2 games in Chicago, the next 3 games in Salt Lake City, and the last 2 games in Chicago.
The Bulls won the series 4 games to 2. For the fifth time in as many Finals appearances, Michael Jordan was named NBA Finals MVP.
Hal Douglas narrated the season-ending documentary for NBA Entertainment. Bulls and Jazz won a combined 133 regular season games, second most in Finals history. Until 2016, the 1997 NBA Finals was the last to feature teams that won a total of at least 130 regular season games.Gaylon Nickerson
Gaylon H. Nickerson (born February 5, 1969) is an American former professional basketball player who played in the NBA and other leagues. Born in Osceola, Arkansas, he attended Wichita State University, Butler Community College, Kansas State University, and Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
Nickerson was selected in the second round (34th overall) of the 1994 NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He split the 1996–97 NBA season with the San Antonio Spurs and the Washington Bullets, playing just four games. Nickerson was also selected in the 2nd round of the 1994 CBA Draft, and he led the league in scoring in 1996–97, averaging 22.5 points per game while with the Oklahoma City Cavalry.List of 1996–97 NBA season transactions
This is a list of all transactions occurring in the 1996-97 NBA season.
1996–97 NBA season by team