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1996–97 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
TV partner/s NBC, TBS, TNT
Regular season
Season MVP Karl Malone (Utah)
Top scorer Michael Jordan (Chicago)
Playoffs
Eastern champions Chicago Bulls
Eastern runners-up Miami Heat
Western champions Utah Jazz
Western runners-up Houston Rockets
Finals
Finals champions Chicago Bulls
Runners-up Utah Jazz
Finals MVP Michael Jordan (Chicago)

The 1996–97 NBA season was the 51st season of the National Basketball Association. 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 year marked the debut of Allen Iverson, Ray Allen, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and Jermaine O'Neal. 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.


Notable occurrences

  • The Chicago Bulls narrowly missed back-to-back 70 win seasons, going 69-13, tying the second best all-time record (with the 1971–72 Los Angeles Lakers season). In the final game of the regular season, the Bulls lost to the Knicks 103-101 as Scottie Pippen missed a three-pointer that would have given the Bulls back-to-back 70 win seasons. This loss also prevented the Bulls from tying the best home record of 40-1, set by the '85-'86 Boston Celtics, finishing 39-2 at the United Center.
  • The 1997 NBA All-Star Game was played at Gund Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, with the East defeating the West 132-120. Glen Rice of the Charlotte Hornets was named the game's MVP.
  • The Philadelphia 76ers played their first game at the Core States Center' (later First Union Center, now Wachovia Center).
  • Allen Iverson set a rookie record scoring with 40 points or more in 5 straight games.
  • Due to extensive renovations at Oakland Arena, the Golden State Warriors played their home games at the San Jose Arena (now known as the HP Pavilion at San Jose, home of the NHL's San Jose Sharks).
  • Dennis Rodman was suspended for 11 games after kicking a cameraman in a road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves after tripping over him.
  • Following a last-second three-point shot by John Stockton in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, the Utah Jazz made their first ever NBA Finals appearance.
  • In Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Lakers, Karl Malone hit all 18 of his free-throw attempts, setting a playoff record for most attempts without a miss, since broken by Paul Pierce.
  • After seven seasons of futility, the Minnesota Timberwolves finally made a postseason appearance, becoming the last of the late-1980s expansion teams to do so. In addition, their expansion counterparts (Miami, Orlando, and Charlotte) also made the playoffs.
  • The Atlanta Hawks played their final season at The Omni Coliseum.
  • The season marked the 50th anniversary of the NBA. To commemorate the occasion, some NBA teams wore throwback uniforms, the NBA logo was decorated in gold for all uniforms, and the 50th anniversary logo patch was featured in the warmups. In addition, the NBA also unveiled the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History during halftime of the 1997 NBA All-Star Game.

Final standings

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division
Team W L PCT. GB
Miami Heat 61 21 .744 -
New York Knicks 57 25 .695 4
Orlando Magic 45 37 .549 16
Washington Bullets 44 38 .537 17
New Jersey Nets 26 56 .317 35
Philadelphia 76ers 22 60 .268 39
Boston Celtics 15 67 .183 46
Central Division
Team W L PCT. GB
Chicago Bulls C 69 13 .841 -
Atlanta Hawks 56 26 .683 13
Detroit Pistons 54 28 .659 15
Charlotte Hornets 54 28 .659 15
Cleveland Cavaliers 42 40 .512 27
Indiana Pacers 39 43 .476 30
Milwaukee Bucks 33 49 .402 36
Toronto Raptors 30 52 .366 39

Western Conference

Midwest Division
Team W L PCT. GB
Utah Jazz 64 18 .780 -
Houston Rockets 57 25 .695 7
Minnesota Timberwolves 40 42 .488 24
Dallas Mavericks 24 58 .293 40
Denver Nuggets 21 61 .256 43
San Antonio Spurs 20 62 .244 44
Vancouver Grizzlies 14 68 .171 50
Pacific Division
Team W L PCT. GB
Seattle SuperSonics 57 25 .695 -
Los Angeles Lakers 56 26 .683 1
Portland Trail Blazers 49 33 .598 8
Phoenix Suns 40 42 .488 17
Los Angeles Clippers 36 46 .439 21
Sacramento Kings 34 48 .415 23
Golden State Warriors 30 52 .366 27

C - NBA Champions

Statistics leaders

Category Player Team Stat
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 2.7
Blocks per game Shawn Bradley New Jersey Nets 3.4
FG% Gheorghe Muresan Washington Bullets 60.4
FT% Mark Price Golden State Warriors 90.6
3FG% Glen Rice Charlotte Hornets 47.0

NBA awards

Yearly awards

  • Most Valuable Player: Karl Malone, Utah Jazz
  • Rookie of the Year: Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
  • Defensive Player of the Year: Dikembe Mutombo, Atlanta Hawks
  • Sixth Man of the Year: John Starks, New York Knicks
  • Most Improved Player: Isaac Austin, Miami Heat
  • Coach of the Year: Pat Riley, Miami Heat
  • All-NBA First Team:
    • F - Karl Malone, Utah Jazz
    • F - Grant Hill, Detroit Pistons
    • C - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets
    • G - Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
    • G - Tim Hardaway, Miami Heat
  • All-NBA Second Team:
    • F Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls
    • F Glen Rice, Charlotte Hornets
    • C Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks
    • G Gary Payton, Seattle SuperSonics
    • G Mitch Richmond, Sacramento Kings
  • All-NBA Third Team:
    • F Anthony Mason, Charlotte Hornets
    • F Vin Baker, Milwaukee Bucks
    • C Shaquille O'Neal, Los Angeles Lakers
    • G John Stockton, Utah Jazz
    • G Anfernee Hardaway, Orlando Magic
  • NBA All-Defensive First Team:
    • F Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls
    • F Karl Malone, Utah Jazz
    • C Dikembe Mutombo, Atlanta Hawks
    • G Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls
    • G Gary Payton, Seattle SuperSonics
  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team:
    • F Anthony Mason, Charlotte Hornets
    • F P.J. Brown, Miami Heat
    • C Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets
    • G Mookie Blaylock, Atlanta Hawks
    • G John Stockton, Utah Jazz
  • All-NBA Rookie First Team:
    • Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Vancouver Grizzlies
    • Allen Iverson, Philadelphia 76ers
    • Stephon Marbury, Minnesota Timberwolves
    • Marcus Camby, Toronto Raptors
    • Antoine Walker, Boston Celtics
  • All-NBA Rookie Second Team:
    • Kerry Kittles, New Jersey Nets
    • Ray Allen, Milwaukee Bucks
    • Travis Knight, Los Angeles Lakers
    • Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
    • Matt Maloney, Houston Rockets


Player of the week

The following players were named NBA Player of the Week.

Week Player
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)

Player of the month

The following players were named NBA Player of the Month.

Month Player
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)

Rookie of the month

The following players were named NBA Rookie of the Month.

Month Rookie
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)

Coach of the month

The following coaches were named NBA Coach of the Month.

Month Coach
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)

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