I don’t know how anyone who watched Michael Jordan dominate the NBA can make the argument that LeBron is the superior basketball player. Some of the strongest and best evidence of MJ’s greatness occurred 20 years ago today. Damn, I feel old.
Jordan was 6-0 in his NBA finals career and even more impressive was the fact he never even faced an elimination game in the Finals. Think about that, nobody even got MJ to a must-win game in the NBA finals. This is probably because he treated them like they were all must-win games. Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals was no exception.
The team Jordan brought into Utah was by no means a super team. Scottie Pippen was hobbled, Rodman was past his best years and a non-factor on offense. The rest was a collection of decent NBA role players with Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper and Steve Kerr leading the way. Luc Longley and Bill Wennington were both white centers that probably would have no role in today’s NBA.
Let’s just watch and enjoy the elder statesmen in his last few minutes as a Chicago Bull…
What an assassin, after the Stockton 3 put Utah up 86-83, Jordan goes right at the bucket for 2, knowing his team can get the final shot. Then he picks Karl Malone’s pocket, steals the ball, and buries the game-winner in iconic fashion! Not bad for a 35-year-old.
Think about this, that was no ordinary 45 points. That was 45 points when his team scored 87. The rest of the team combined for 42. They needed every single point from MJ, that Bulls team didn’t have close to the offensive firepower that Utah had. They won that series with Jordan’s grit and team defense and they did it in 6.
I still have the newspaper clippings from the next day.
That was a great time to be a Chicago sports fan, but also a little bittersweet because you knew the ride was about to come to an end, and at least one year before it had too. If the Bulls had brought the team back one more year I have no doubt they would have lifted the 7th banner. Sadly the writing was on the wall that the run was over.
Unless of course, you’re the legendary Skip Bayless:
Watching the end of that game you really get a feel for both how physical the game used to be and how much the game has changed in regards to the three-point line. The perimeter is just not being guarded the way it used to be. You can also tell that Pippen who when healthy was a top 4 player, is just not himself. He’s slow to close out defensively and he’s completely passive on offense. It was nice to see the end of a basketball game not go to replay 5 times in the last two minutes. I kinda miss that.
Jordan is still the GOAT…… ATRAIN OUT.