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1997 NBA Finals
Team Coach Wins
Chicago Bulls Phil Jackson 4
Utah Jazz Jerry Sloan 2
Dates: June 1 - June 13
MVP: Michael Jordan
(Chicago Bulls)
Television: NBC (U.S.)
Announcers: Marv Albert, Matt Guokas, and Bill Walton
Referees:
Game 1: Dan Crawford, Bill Oakes, and Ed T. Rush
Game 2:
Game 3:
Game 4:
Game 5: Game 5:
Game 6: Game 6:
Hall of Famers: Michael Jordan (2009)
Robert Parish (2003)
John Stockton (2009)
Coaches:
Phil Jackson (2007)
Jerry Sloan (2009)
Eastern Finals: Bulls defeat Heat, 4-1
Western Finals: Jazz defeat Rockets, 4-2
 < 1996 NBA Finals 1998 > 

The 1997 NBA Finals was the concluding series of the 1997 NBA Playoffs that determined the champion of the 1996–97 NBA season. The Utah Jazz of the Western Conference took on the Chicago Bulls of the Eastern Conference for the title, with the Bulls holding home court advantage. The series was played under a best-of-seven format, in the 2-3-2 NBA Finals format, with the first 2 games in Chicago, then 3 games in a row in Salt Lake City and the last 2 in Chicago.

The Bulls won the series 4 games to 2. For the fifth time in as many Finals appearances, Bulls guard Michael Jordan was named the Most Valuable Player of the series.

During that NBA Finals, NBC Sports's Hannah Storm became the first woman to serve as pre-game host of an NBA Finals.

NBC Sports used Ahmad Rashad (Bulls sideline) and Jim Gray (Jazz sideline) as sideline reporters.

Contents

Background

In the 1996–97 season, Michael Jordan led the Bulls to a 69-13 record. The Bulls reached the Finals after sweeping the Washington Bullets, and defeating both the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat four games to one. In 1996–97, Utah was led by John Stockton and Karl Malone, posting a franchise best 64–18 record. They reached the NBA Finals for the first time ever after sweeping the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round, winning over the Los Angeles Lakers 4–1, and Houston Rockets 4–2 to meet the Bulls in the Finals. A clutch three-pointer at the buzzer by John Stockton over Charles Barkley in Game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals sent the Jazz to the NBA Finals. This shot remains one of the highlight shots of the Jazz franchise.

The series between the Bulls and Jazz featured two of the more memorable clutch efforts of Michael Jordan's career. He won Game 1 for the Bulls with a buzzer-beating jump shot. The Jazz would eventually fight the first four games to a 2–2 tie. In Game 5, Jordan scored 38 points despite suffering from a stomach virus that had rendered him feverish and dehydrated at the start of the game as the Bulls pulled out a 90-88 win at the Delta Center. The Bulls went home up 3-2 in the series and came from behind to win the contest 90–86 after Steve Kerr made the go-ahead basket, and then Scottie Pippen made a steal followed by when Toni Kukoč made the clinching dunk. The Bulls won the series in six games.

The Bulls won their second straight title from their first three-peat in similar fashion, winning Games 5 and 6 with the series tied 2–2, and clinching the series at home, like they did in the 1992 NBA Finals series with the Portland Trail Blazers. Until 2008, this was the last time an Eastern Conference team had home-court advantage in the Finals.

Series scoring summary

The following scoring summary is written in a line score format, except that the quarter numbers are replaced by game numbers.

Team Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5 Game 6 Wins
Utah (West) 82 85 104 78 88 86 2
Chicago (East) 84 97 93 73 90 90 4

1997 NBA Finals roster

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1997 Chicago Bulls Playoff roster

Head Coach:Phil Jackson
Michael Jordan | Scottie Pippen | Dennis Rodman | Steve Kerr | Toni Kukoc | Luc Longley | Ron Harper | Jud Buechler | Bison Dele | Jason Caffey | Randy Brown | Robert Parish |

1997 Utah Jazz Playoff roster

Head Coach:Jerry Sloan
Karl Malone | Jeff Hornacek | John Stockton | Bryon Russell | Antoine Carr | Greg Ostertag | Shandon Anderson | Howard Eisley | Chris Morris | Adam Keefe | Greg Foster | Stephen Howard |

Schedule

  • Game 1 - June 1, Sunday @Chicago, Chicago 84, Utah 82: Chicago leads series 1-0
  • Game 2 - June 4, Wednesday @Chicago, Chicago 97, Utah 85: Chicago leads series 2-0
  • Game 3 - June 6, Friday @Utah, Utah 104, Chicago 93: Chicago leads series 2-1
  • Game 4 - June 8, Sunday @Utah, Utah 78, Chicago 73: Series tied 2-2
  • Game 5 - June 11, Wednesday @Utah, Chicago 90, Utah 88: Chicago leads series 3-2
  • Game 6 - June 13, Friday @Chicago, Chicago 90, Utah 86: Chicago wins series 4-2

The Finals were played using a 2-3-2 site format, where the first two and last two games are held at the team with home court advantage's (Chicago's) home court (United Center).

Game 1

Sunday, June 1, at the United Center

Despite having a toe injury earlier, Scottie Pippen helped the Bulls to a 84-82 win over Utah on Sunday night. Pippen scored 27 points while Jordan scored 31. The Bulls trailed 79-78 in the fourth quarter, yet were able to come back after Pippen blocked Antoine Carr's jump shot and after an assist from Ron Harper when Pippen would make his third 3-pointer of the night. With the game tied, and only seconds remaining, Karl Malone, whose nickname was "The Mailman" (because "He delivers"), was fouled and had a chance to give the Jazz the lead. Scottie Pippen famously psyched him out by telling him "Just remember, The mail man doesn't deliver on Sundays, Karl." while Malone was at the free throw line. He missed both free throws and the Bulls rebounded and quickly called a time-out. With the game on the line, Chicago put the ball into the hands of Michael Jordan. M.J. dribbled out most of the waning seconds and then launched a 20 footer that swished in at the buzzer, as the Chicago Bulls took the first game of the 1997 NBA Finals.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Utah 18 24 22 18 82
Chicago 17 21 24 22 84

Game 2

Wednesday, June 4, at the United Center

The Chicago Bulls simply dominated Game 2. Jordan scored 38 points. After a hard fought first quarter, the Bulls took control of the game with a 12-0 run in the second quarter with Michael Jordan whipping a great pass to Scottie Pippen for a one handed dunk. The Jazz's 31 points in the first half was only one point above an NBA low. Karl Malone, who missed two key free throws in the last game, would have another bad night, going only 6 for 20 shooting. Dennis Rodman nailed a late 3-pointer to put the Bulls up 97-83. The game gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Utah 20 11 28 26 85
Chicago 25 22 31 19 97

Game 3

Friday, June 6, at the Delta Center

The Chicago Bulls would start off the first three quarters with mediocre play, despite Scottie Pippen tying the NBA Finals record with seven 3 pointers. Utah was led by Karl Malone who scored 37 points and had 10 rebounds. Chicago attempted a 4th quarter comeback cutting a 24 point deficit to 7, but ultimately Utah would win their first game of the series. The Jazz fans welcomed their proud Western Conferences champs with force. During the starting lineups of the Jazz, the Bulls players plugged their ears, due to the loud cheers and fireworks within the Delta Center. With the Bulls trailing by 24 points in the second quarter Michael Jordan threw down an alley oop slam which drew loud boos from the crowd.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Chicago 22 23 15 33 93
Utah 31 30 15 27 104

Game 4

Sunday, June 8, at the Delta Center

Due to the extremely loud Jazz fans in game 3, Bulls Coach Phil Jackson wore a pair of ear plugs. A tight game with many lead changes throughout, the Jazz led by 5 at quarter time and trailed by 5 at halftime; the score was tied going into the fourth quarter. Late in the game, Michael Jordan dunked to give the Bulls a 71-66 lead, but John Stockton made a momentum-shifting 3-pointer at the top of the key to cut the Jazz' deficit to 71-69. Jordan made a jumper to give the Bulls a 73-69 lead, but the Bulls would not score again. The Jazz pulled to within 1 when Stockton stole the ball from Jordan and made 2 free throws at the other end. On the next possession John Stockton grabbed a rebound from a Jordan miss and threw a full court pass to Karl Malone for a layup which put the Jazz in front for the first time since early in the fourth quarter 74-73 which sent the crowd crazy. After some Bulls misses, Karl Malone made two free throws with 17 seconds left to put the Jazz up by 3 points. On the next possession, Michael Jordan's potential game-tying 3-pointer rattled in and out; Stockton grabbed the rebound and threw another full court pass to Karl Malone, who escaped the intended foul and dunked. The Jazz's 12-2 run tied the series at two games apiece. The Jazz fans grew so loud during the final moments of the game when Bryon Russell scored the last dunk, that NBC Sports announcer Marv Albert was unable to be heard clearly or understood. The 78-73 score was one of the lowest scores in NBA Finals history.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Chicago 16 24 16 17 73
Utah 21 14 21 22 78

Game 5: The Flu Game

Wednesday, June 11, at the Delta Center

Game 5, often referred to as "The Flu Game", was one of Michael Jordan's most memorable. On Tuesday, Jordan woke up nauseated and sweating profusely. He hardly had the strength to sit up in bed and was diagnosed with a stomach virus or food poisoning. The Bulls trainers told Jordan that there was no way he could play the next day. The Jazz had just won two in a row to tie the series, and Chicago needed their leader in this crucial swing game. In the NBA Finals best of seven games format, that Game 5 was critical, since the winner would be just one game away from the NBA Title. Against all odds, Jordan rose from bed at 3:00 p.m., just in time for the 6:00 tip-off at the Delta Center.

Jordan was visibly weak and pale as he stepped onto the court for Game Five. At first, he displayed no energy whatsoever, and John Stockton, along with reigning MVP Karl Malone, quickly led the Jazz to a 16-point lead. But in the second quarter, Jordan started to sink shots despite lacking his usual explosive speed and hardly being able to concentrate. He scored 17 points in the quarter as the Bulls hit the front with a furious rally before halftime. The Jazz though reclaimed their lead and pushed it to 8 points early in the second quarter. But the Bulls went on a 10-0 run to take the lead again and the game would remain tight the rest of the way.

Luc Longley and Scottie Pippen did their best to keep the Bulls in the game while Jordan was fatigued again in the third. But Jordan turned it on again, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter. With less than a minute to go he was at the free throw line; he made the first but missed the second. Toni Kukoc tapped the offensive rebound to Jordan, who would swish a three-point shot to put the Bulls up by three points with less than a minute left. Chicago then withstood a late Utah push and held on for a narrow victory when John Stockton missed the first of two free throws in front of the stunned crowd with an exhausted sweat-soaked Jordan briefly throwing two fists into the air as the buzzer sounded. Jordan talking to the media after the game quoted "we wanted it real bad."

Jordan finished the game with 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block. Malone was the highest-scoring Jazz player with 19 points but suffered from some dreadful shooting, throwing up an off balance airball on the possession prior to Jordan's big 3. Malone would finish the second half 1 for 6 from the field. Jordan stayed on the court for 44 minutes, resting for only four minutes while being perpetually at the brink of fainting. With only a few seconds remaining and the game finally in hand, Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen's arms.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Chicago 16 33 18 23 90
Utah 29 24 19 16 88

Game 6

Friday, June 13, at the United Center

Michael Jordan was not fully recovered from the flu, but was feeling much better and led the Bulls with 39 points. Chicago struggled in the first half scoring just 37 points and 9 of 27 from 2 point range. With the Bulls struggling in the third quarter Michael Jordan dunked after a steal, bringing the crowd to its feet and Jud Buechler buried a great 3 point shot to help give the Bulls the momentum. The Bulls trailed by 9 points early in the fourth quarter but went on a 10-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes when Steve Kerr hit a 3-pointer, but the Jazz would regain the lead and the game will remain one possession until the final score. In the final minutes, Jordan's fadeaway on the baseline put the Bulls up by 3, before Bryon Russell hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 86-86. The two teams would fail to score on their next possessions. With 28 seconds left after Shandon Anderson missed a reverse layup, the Jazz expected Jordan to take the final shot. Instead, Jordan passed off to Steve Kerr, who hit a jumper with 5 seconds left to send the United Center crowd into a frenzy. The Jazz looked for one final shot to stay alive, but Scottie Pippen made a massive defensive play as he knocked away Bryon Russell's inbound pass intended for Shandon Anderson and was able to pass the ball over to Toni Kukoc, who dunked the final 2 points of the game before the roaring crowd to bring the Finals to an end. Afterwards, Jordan was named the NBA Finals MVP.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
Utah 23 21 26 16 86
Chicago 17 20 27 26 90

Quotes from the Finals

The Mailman doesn't deliver on Sundays.
Scottie Pippen, to Jazz power forward Karl Malone before he took two free throws near the end of the first game. Malone would miss both throws with less than a minute left in the fourth quarter, allowing the Bulls to keep the game tied. Jordan's heroic last shot won the game for the Bulls.
MJ, top of the circle, against Russell. Michael hangs, fires...SCORES!! The Bulls win!! He knocked it in at the buzzer, Bulls win! How many times has he done that?
Bulls announcer Neil Funk after Jordan's jumper at the buzzer gave Chicago an 84-82 win in Game 1
Down to one, here's Jordan....YES!! It is all over! The Chicago Bulls have won at the buzzer in game 1 of the best of 7.
NBC commentator Marv Albert during the aforementioned game
It’s difficult to get in sync with all of the (expletive) Mormons out here.
Dennis Rodman defending his poor performance in game 3. Rodman was later fined $50,000 for this remark. He apologized, claiming he was not insulting Mormons, but obnoxious Jazz fans.[1][2]
Stockton fires down to Malone....And the Jazz have taken a one point lead!
Marv Albert on Stockton's key play in Game 4. The Jazz won this game to tie the series at 2.
A courageous, classic performance by the flu-ridden Michael Jordan.
Marv Albert after Michael's improbable performance in Game 5, which gave the Bulls a 3-2 series lead.
Kerr, still with the dribble. Looking...dump to Pippen. Scottie, bumped by Shandon Anderson, hands it to Michael. Six seconds (on the shot clock)...five. Michael, in traffic, to Kerr. Fifteen-footer...YES!! He knocked it in! Kerr buried the jumper, five seconds left! The Bulls lead is two! Stevie Kerr knocked it in! He took the pass from Michael and stuffed the jumper! Wow!
Neil Funk after Steve Kerr nailed a fifteen-foot jumper to give the Bulls an 88-86 lead in Game 6. The Bulls would win this game and their fifth NBA championship.
Five seconds remaining in regulation. The inbounds...batted away by Pippen! Pippen rolls it to Kukoc...and the Chicago Bulls have won their fifth championship in the last seven years!
Marv Albert calling the final seconds of Game 6

See also

References

  1. ^ Jet Magazine staff (1997-06-30). "Rodman fined $50,000 for remarks about Mormons". Johnson Publishing Co.. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_n6_v92/ai_19566931/. Retrieved 2009-12-16.  
  2. ^ Wise, Mike (1997-06-13). "N.B.A. Fines Rodman $50,000 for Remarks on Mormons". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/13/sports/nba-fines-rodman-50000-for-remarks-on-mormons.html. Retrieved 2009-12-16.  

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