Thursday, June 14, 2012
Updated: June 15, 12:23 PM ET
Best single-game performances: 4
By John Hollinger
|Doesn't get any prettier than this: MJ hitting the game-winner to clinch the Bulls' 1998 Finals victory.|
4. Michael Jordan, Bulls: 1998 Finals, Game 6
Jordan's two most memorable moments both came in Utah, and this one would be his last in a Bulls uniform. Just a year and three days after his miraculous Game 5, Chicago's "Last Dance" squad was trying to walk into the sunset with a sixth championship.
The Bulls trailed by three in the final minute before Jordan took over. He made a running layup to pull the Bulls within one, then broke away from a cutting Jeff Hornacek to surprise an unsuspecting Karl Malone in the post and steal the ball. Jordan took the ball himself up court, nudged Bryon Russell aside and launched the now-famous jumper from the foul line to put the Bulls ahead with 5.2 seconds left. (Quick trivia fact: Ask any fan who took the last shot of this game and I bet they say Jordan. It was John Stockton, who missed a 3 at the buzzer.)
In sheer statistical terms, this game was good but unexceptional by Jordan's lofty standards. He finished with 45 points, a jaw-dropping total for a game that ended 87-86, but shot only 15 of 35 from the field and had just one assist and one rebound.
On the other hand, it was a road closeout game, the Jazz of the mid-'90s were probably the best non-championship team in league history and Jordan owned the final minute. Additionally, this Game 6 was a bit like a Game 7 for Chicago -- Scottie Pippen had hurt his back and was essentially useless, and the rubber match would have been in Utah. Finally, the historical ramifications were huge, and the replays are still shown, which is why everyone who saw MJ's shot remembers it like it was yesterday.
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