Prometheus: Yes, I stopped mortals from foreseeing doom.
Chorus: What cure did you discover for that sickness?
Prometheus: I sowed in them blind hopes.
The sign of Pisces may not be immediately recognized for its sports acumen but let us consider the nature of the two fishes. One swimming to the left and the other to the right, splitting a current, arriving in two places at once with a metaphysical awareness of the supposed opposition, the endpoint, and the ocean itself. This is a cyclical awareness, not distracted by linear concepts. Where Pisces sits in our charts, the jet stream is strong. We have the potential to create our own whirlpools, lost, chasing our tails, or follow the flow, reaching our destination with ease.
An athlete in their prime is not only aware of the goal but also the obstructions. Our teammates, our rivals, the crowd, the media are all levels of sensory vibrations to be subliminally accounted for and responded to. Rather than zone out, excellence requires zoning in. As Dennis Rodman quotes, “...I worked on defense every day for, like, a couple of years, man… and all of a sudden, I perfected it to the point where I knew how players were going to react to something [before they did].”¹ This state of hyper-awareness introduces the Piscean mentality. Observation transcends individuals, a state of flow is reached where we are not just little fish, but one with the whole ocean. Instinct meets training, and the magic begins to happen.
In this essay, we will view the events of the Chicago Bulls 1991, 92, 93, 96, 97 and 1998 championship victories through the stately red eye of Jupiter.
Jupiter is an active planet, pushing boundaries, exploring limitations. As Dartmouth Professor of Ancient Greek History Paul Christesen, quotes “…at its heart the Ancient Olympic Games was a religious festival held in a religious sanctuary.”² It was the branches of the Jupiterian olive that demarcated the finish line in those first footraces, symbolically linking athletics and spirituality. Though the active, fiery sign of Sagittarius is more often associated with sports, I would argue Jupiter’s rulership of Pisces accentuates team athletics. Jupiter in Pisces also creates a mythic level of cultural appreciation - these folks are legends in their own time. The cultural zeitgeist leans towards venerating the cult of sport and discovering those who exemplify its virtues.
Michael Jordan, with his natal Jupiter in Pisces conjunct the midheaven, beautifully demonstrates a piscine style of play. In a jumpshot, the strategic switch from left hand to right is seamless, ambidextrous, and instinctual. In the words of Magic Johnson, “…when he came down the lane, he just went one way, put it in one hand, floated about five more yards, said 'Well I don't know,' and then he went off the glass."³
Ponder other aspects of Jordan’s playing – his penchant for shooting from the perimeter, or the “fadeaway,” a peculiarly Piscean turn-of-phrase, Jordanized by his circular style. He would leave defenders dizzy with an unpredictable sashay left or right. The confusion caused by his movement created space – an opportunity to take aim at the rim, like a fish evading a predator.
It’s June 19, 1984, the 37th annual NBA Draft. Jupiter was already making waves in Jordan’s chart, moving retrograde through Capricorn over his 7th house Venus, and opposing his Cancer Ascendant. The expansive quality of transiting Jupiter seeks an outlet through a partnered effort while also emphasizing the importance of an enduring individual contribution. Jordan, college player of the year, was chosen by the Chicago Bulls as the third draft pick.⁴ Mars and Saturn had their conjunction on his 5th house Neptune in Scorpio, showing the potential for a satisfying connection and opportunity for wish fulfillment. Later that year, as Uranus conjuncts Jordan’s moon, he wins Rookie of the Year.
During the third game of the 1985 season, the Mars/Saturn synodic cycle initiated during the draft ends. Jordan fractures his foot. A pause is initiated as the healing process occurs. As Jupiter enters Pisces in March of 1986, Jordan makes a triumphant comeback. Though the Bulls manage to rally and make it to the playoffs, the Boston Celtics proved too organized and mature a foe. A wild point spree by Jordan in Game 2 set the record for single-game playoff scoring, but the Celtics clinch the win in the end.
Recovered and ready to fly, we meet “Air Jordan,” known for his off-the-ground, dynamic playing style. With Jordan’s Mercury soaring around fixed star Altair, it’s no surprise that his feet barely contact the earth. The popular Jump Man logo hits the scene, tidal waves of profit begin rolling in, and Nike’s Air Jordan line develops into the sneaker freak franchise it is today. It feels obvious to mention the name of the shoe company designing the Air Jordan brand – but let us not forget it is Victory herself, Nike, the first ally of Jupiter, honored with the company namesake.
In a nod to Jordan’s forward-thinking Aquarian Sun, Senior Creative Director of the Air Jordan label Mark Smith quotes, “I always say my favorite one is the next one.”⁵
With entrepreneurial 2nd house Mars in Leo trine an emphatic and popular Moon in Sagittarius, Jordan knew how to make his hustle work for him. Endorsing everything from underwear to sports drinks to cereal, Jordan was making his way to becoming the highest paid professional athlete.⁶
Jupiter moves into Aries in 1987. Though His Airness was racking up awards left and right (Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, NBA Slam Dunk Champion), Jupiter’s move into Jordan’s 11th house suggests it was time to start building a team. Scottie Pippen gets beamed up. The rush towards the championship would be thwarted by the “Bad Boy” Detroit Pistons. Known for their brass, the Pistons not only pounded down the Bulls, but they also had the skill to hold their title.
Saturn moves into Jordan’s seventh house, heralding the arrival of welcome expertise. New coach Phil Jackson provides the structure and wisdom needed by the team. The Chicago Bulls are learning to rampage, showing their merit with a win of 15 back-to-back home games and 8 games out on the road.
In 1990, Jupiter retrogrades over Pippen’s natal Jupiter in Cancer. We see a less flashy but equally formidable compliment to Michael Jordan emerge. With a natal Venus sextile between the two players, a Mercury/Sun trine and Pip’s Saturn trine Jordan’s ascendant, (Pippen’s birth time is unknown) a water sign grand trine emerges from the synastry chart, showing psychic identification between the players, a true “Dream Team.”⁷ The seemingly intuitive and harmonious flow between the two players proves unstoppable.
By the time of the 1991 Finals, the Bulls find no contest on the way to their first NBA Championship. They seal the deal with a ring. Appropriately, Jupiter is opposite Saturn in the sky. Saturn is newly in the sign of Aquarius, en route to meet Jordan’s natal Saturn and Sun.
The following season proves more challenging, but the Bulls wrangle another championship win. We find Jupiter retrograding over Pippen’s Sun and Moon in Libra in early 1993, and Saturn is returning to it’s natal position in Jordan’s chart. The years of effort and momentum crystallize into a third victory, but not without a fight. The New York Knicks were serious competitors, and the Phoenix Suns were blazing with the dominant rays provided by Sir Charles Barkley.
Barkley, born just three days after Jordan, holds a nearly identical chart, but the Sun has moved to 1 degree Pisces.
We are down to game six of the finals on June 20, 1993, and Saturn enters Pisces. Cosmic relief for Jordan, fresh out of his Saturn return, but the leaded weight of the ringed planet burdens Barkley’s Sun. The game is equally matched. Jupiter in Libra moves towards a conjunction with point guard John Paxson’s Sun, and Uranus retrogrades over Paxson’s Moon. With less than 5 seconds remaining in the game and a humble 2-point lead for the Suns, Paxson sinks a dramatic 3-pointer. The planets anoint the Bulls with their third straight NBA title.
It was an exciting run for Chicago. The phenomenon of the NBA, and Jordan specifically, wound its way into the far reaches of geography and culture. The popularity of the 1992 Olympic team exemplified the inclusivity of the sport – and what was happening on the paint was now happening on the world wide web.⁸ The NBA’s knack for marketing athletes created basketball camps around the world where folks could analyze moves, rewind, and digest novel techniques frame by frame. In 1993, at 30 years old, trophied, thrice-ringed, Jordan retires. Many of the players of this era of the Bulls have Neptune in the middle degrees of Scorpio. Jupiter’s transiting activation of this point has different effects on each athlete.
Scottie Pippen was able to come into his own as a formidable player with Jordan’s departure. With Pippen’s natal Chiron parked on Jordan’s Jupiter, it seems fair to speculate that a mentoring relationship between the two stars was perhaps draining or painful to Pippen. With a natal Venus/Neptune/Mars conjunction in Scorpio, Jupiter’s activation of Scorpio allowed Pippen to fall in love with the game all over again.
A uniquely Neptunian character, Dennis Rodman has natal Saturn retrograde in the first house. During his tenure with the Pistons, we saw this as an ability to analyze his own style of play to cater to his strengths. His skills, subtle and magical, found him perfectly placed for the rebound time after time. As that natal Saturn would suggest, Rodman was late to begin his professional career. Outsized by his two younger sisters (also professional basketball players), Rodman was the less skilled athlete. Graduating high school at 5 foot 11, the developmental necessity of Saturn in the first was intensified by a need to get comfortable in his own skin. He experienced a late growth spurt that shot him up to 6 foot 7 inches, allowing his height to match his ambition.⁹
Rodman’s Neptune/MC conjunction gave him a taste of championship status with Detroit. Judging by his astrology, the stability created by the cohesive team was more than just a day job. Coach Chuck Daly’s decision to move on in 1993 left Rodman rudderless. With transiting Pluto opposing his Sun, he needed a change. Jupiter moving across his natal Neptune promised new opportunities.
Rodman’s move to the San Antonio Spurs coalesced with a change in attitude. His hair, tattoos and piercings became guideposts of his inner transformation. A formerly quiet but relentless player was now regularly ejected from games for engaging in shouting matches with referees. He found a new flow in San Antonio, enjoying all the spoils of nightlife, and expressing his needs for freedom and acceptance.
In March of 1995, after an encounter with retrograde Mars, and retrograde Mercury hovering over his natal Venus, Jordan makes an abrupt about-face and comes back to the NBA. Things had changed while Jordan was away – the loss of Horace Grant left a 6-foot 10-inch sized hole in the middle of the team.
The stoic Spurs were not a perfect fit for Rodman, who then found his way to Chicago. Understanding his need for structure, the team brought on a retired police officer to make sure Rodman attended sessions with a staff psychologist while also trusting him to get the job done on the court.¹⁰ The strategy paid off. In January of 1996, the Bulls ran undefeated. In April of ‘96, with Uranus conjunct Rodman’s Jupiter and Jordan’s Mercury, and Jupiter conjunct Rodman’s Ascendant/Jordan’s Venus, a new identity was forged for the team. A motley crew in appearance, but also one of the best lineups ever assembled.
In addition to the stellar Bulls arrangement, we also have new ‘Tune recruits in the Jordan universe. The movie Space Jam is released in 1996. The Bugs Bunny we know and love premiered on July 27, 1940. This puts our plucky rabbit pal’s Pluto/Sun conjunction in opposition to Jordan's own Sun, and Bugs’ Saturn/Jupiter conjunction opposite Jordan’s Neptune. “Hare Jordan” is a perfect foil to Michael Jordan, and the live action/animation hybrid film holds the record for the highest grossing basketball film of all time. The revamped Seal cover of the Steve Miller Band song, “Fly Like an Eagle” opens the film’s soundtrack and makes strategic nods to constellation Aquila.
Jupiter continues the steady march around the wheel, and the Bulls continue their victory lap. On June 11, 1997, Jupiter turns retrograde. The Bulls are facing down the Jazz in the finals, and Jordan is struck with a stomach virus. Appearing beleaguered and visibly ill, Jordan’s transiting Uranus-Mars opposition and transiting Neptune’s conjunction with the South Node are nationally broadcast. Somehow, he rallies a three-pointer in the final minute to find a 90-88 win.
The 1997-98 season starts on the wrong foot for Pippen, who was out for surgery. With Jupiter doing the backstroke through his third house across his natal Saturn and Chiron, recovery guaranteed to be slow. Saturn was opposing his Moon and quincunx his Venus, signifying a necessary adjustment. Unfortunately, ongoing pain would continue to plague Pippen throughout the season.
The deciding game of the 1997-98 championships is regarded as one of the most intense in NBA history – Jordan’s jump shot from behind the free-throw line with less than 5 seconds remaining gives the Bulls a one-point lead, to which they manage to cling until the buzzer sounds. The Bulls are holders of the “repeat three peat.” With another Jupiter in Pisces wink, the game holds the highest TV ratings of an NBA game of all time. After six championships, it was both Jordan and coach Phil Jackson’s final game.
Considering the cultural phenomenon of the Chicago Bulls demonstrates not only the universal appeal of Jupiter in Pisces¹¹ but this planetary arrangement acted like an oar, cutting through the water and pushing Jordan to the top of his game. Jupiter, returning to the kingdom of Pisces, promises a moment when the upstream struggle directs us back into our sweet home waters, united with the glory that belonged to us all along.
In a time of digital isolation, decreased activity, and connectivity, it may be tempting to revel in the satisfaction of a Jupiter transit by reclining towards seclusion, numbed by a comforting screen. Astrology sometimes reminds us of things so simple they have become inconspicuous. Here I suggest a quietly active take on Jupiter in Pisces - fresh air and exercise. Seeking worthy competition and challenging yourself can be a great way to enjoy the astrological opportunities unfolding with this transit. Like those early Olympian athletes, appreciating the wonder of existing in a body is not hubris, but a form of honor. Just as “everybody wants to be like Mike,” it is my dearest hope for you that you may find yourself the unsuspecting hero of your local pickleball team.