At the time, it seemed like the perfect curtain call for Michael Jordan‘s illustrious career. On June 14, 1998, Jordan hit the biggest shot of his time in the NBA. When the moments were the biggest, Jordan would always deliver, and this moment couldn’t have been any bigger. Jordan has a highlight reel of game-winning shots during his career, but nothing compares to the one he hit in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. Jordan’s Chicago Bulls had to fight off a hungry Jazz team that starred John Stockton and Karl Malone. In that Game 6, the Jazz played the Bulls as tough as they possibly could, and they were actually winning the game prior to Jordan taking the shot. The whole sequence of events leading up to the shot is just a testament to how great Jordan was.
Jordan had stolen the ball from Malone on the previous possession. As Jordan walked the ball up the floor, he set himself up for the big shot. Jordan was defended by Byron Russell, a very aggressive defender. Some recall Jordan giving Russell a nudge before canning the 18-foot jump shot with 5.2 seconds to go, but I will say I am a part of the group that believes Jordan pulled off a nice crossover on Russell to seal the Jazz’s fate. Whether it was a push off or a crossover, the shot wrote the euology for the Utah Jazz, and further cemented the legacy of Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
The shot confrimed a three-peat for the Chicago Bulls, and it was the last time we saw Jordan play in a Chicago Bulls uniform. Many thought that this would be Jordan’s last play on a basketball, and I actually wish it was. Jordan went on to retire after the championship season, but he came back as a member of the Washington Wizards in 2001.
To this day — 16 years later — it is arguably the greatest shot in NBA Finals history. Looking back at this moment, it still makes me think, “I wanna be like Mike.”