Jun 1991: Guard Magic Johnson of the Los Angeles Lakers (bottom, left corner) shakes hands with guard John Paxton of the Chicago Bulls, right, as the Bulls celebrate after defeating the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals at the Great Western Forum in I
Photo: Ken Levine/Getty Images
Photo: Ken Levine/Getty Images

The Last Dance: Dayton-area pair part of Chicago Bulls championship run

Two Dayton-area natives are part of the documentary dominating sports discussion at a time when live paused by the coronavirus. 

Less than three minutes into the first episode “The Last Dance,” the 10-part series set to chronicle the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 1990s, John Paxson makes an appearance thanks to his game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals. 

That bucket clinched the third of six championships for Chicago in the Michael Jordan era, which spanned 1984-98. 

In the second episode of the series, Paxson shares his perspective on the early part of Jordan’s career when the championship team was being assembled. That includes a tumultuous 1985-86 season in which Jordan suffered a broken foot and had to endure a minutes limit imposed by management. With Jordan on the bench, Paxson made a game-winning shot late in the season against the Indiana Pacers that helped the Bulls sneak into the playoffs. 

>>RELATED: Thoughts on the ‘90s Bulls 

Paxson also shared his perspective on the team trading popular power forward Charles Oakley to the New York Knicks for center Bill Cartright, who started in the middle for the first three Chicago championship teams. 

Paxson spent nine of his 11 NBA seasons as a player with the Bulls and has worked in the team’s front office since 2003. 

He and his brother, Jim, were stars at Alter High School in the ‘70s. While John went on to play at Notre Dame, Jim was an All-American at the University of Dayton before also playing 11 seasons in the NBA for Portland and Boston. 

Their father, Jim Paxson Sr., also played in the NBA after starring at Catholic Central in Springfield and playing at UD. 

Meanwhile, Ron Harper figures to play a prominent role as the documentary continues to air on ESPN over the next five weeks. The Dayton native was a major part of the second half of the Bulls’ six-championship run, playing the role of defensive specialist in a backcourt with Jordan. 

7 Jun 1996: Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bull, left, discusses strategy with teammates Ron Harper, center, and Scottie Pippen during a time-out on the court during the fourth quarter of game two in the NBA Finals at the United Center in Chicago, Illino
Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

After graduating from Kiser High School, Harper had one of the greatest careers in Miami University history from 1983-86. 

Harper was named Mid-American Conference Player of the Year twice and remains Miami’s all-time leader in points (2,377) and rebounds (1,119). 

He was a high-scoring guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers but settled into a defensive stopper role with the Bulls. He later won two more championships with the Los Angeles Lakers before retiring in 2001. 

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