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More interesting facts on Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals

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Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals took place on June 14, 1998 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA between the visiting Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz at the Delta Center, now known as EnergySolutions Arena. The Bulls won 87-86, clinching their sixth NBA title in eight years. The game registered a 22.3 Nielsen rating with a 38 share, the highest rated game in the history of the NBA.[1][2] The game was viewed by 72 million people, breaking the record set earlier that postseason by Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Indiana Pacers and the Bulls, which holds the record for highest-rated non-Finals NBA game with a 19.1 rating and a 33 share. Game 6 was the final game with the Bulls for Michael Jordan and coach Phil Jackson.

Background

The Delta Center, site of Game 6

The Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls had finished the season tied for the best record in the NBA at 62-20. Utah beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals, and the Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals, setting up a rematch of the prior year's NBA Finals, which the Bulls had won in 6 games. The Jazz had swept the season series against the Bulls 2-0, giving them the tiebreaker for home court advantage in the Finals.

In the mostly tight finals series, Utah had won Game 1, while the Bulls had won Games 2, 3 and 4. At the United Center in Game 5, Michael Jordan's would-be game-winning three-pointer air-balled, allowing the Jazz to stave off elimination and return to Utah for Game 6, and potentially Game 7. None of the previous five Finals appearances for the Bulls had gone to a Game 7.

Game

Scottie Pippen scored the opening basket with a slam dunk that aggravated a back injury, causing him pain and difficulty moving throughout the game.[3] Pippen was limited to 8 points on 4-7 shooting in 26 minutes played.[4] Michael Jordan took 35 of the Bulls' 67 shots, leading the team in scoring and minutes played with 45 points in 44 minutes.[4] Karl Malone led the Jazz in both categories with 31 points in 43 minutes.[4]

In the first half of the game, Jazz guard Howard Eisley made a 3-point jumper that was ruled by referee Dick Bavetta to have been released after the shot clock expired.[5] Replays showed that the ball had left Eisley's hands with a second left on the shot clock.[6] In the second half, Bulls guard Ron Harper made a two-point jump shot that was counted; replays showed that the shot may not have been released in time.[6]

With 41.9 seconds left in the fourth quarter, John Stockton scored a 3-point shot to give the Jazz an 86-83 lead. Michael Jordan scored on the following possession to cut the lead to one. Michael Jordan stole the ball from Karl Malone in the low post and dribbled to the front. Bryon Russell guarded Jordan as time wound down. Jordan drove inside the 3-point line, executed a quick cross-over - possibly pushing off Russell,[7][8][9] but the officials did not call a foul - and made a 20-foot jumper to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead with 5.2 seconds left. Neil Funk made the call for the Bulls radio network.

Malone...stripped by Michael, to the floor, stolen by M.J.! Michael the steal! 16 seconds left, Bulls down one...Michael against Russell, 12 seconds...11...10. Jordan, Jordan, a drive, hangs...fires...SCORE!! He scores! The Bulls lead 87-86 with five and two-tenths left, and now they're one stop away! Oh my goodness...oh, my goodness!

Utah called a timeout, setting up the final play of the game. John Stockton missed a 3-point shot to end the game.[5] The final score of the game was Jordan's final shot as a Chicago Bull and his 25th game winning shot for team.[10]

Russell, remarking about the now famous no-call on Jordan's final shot, later said "Whether he pushed off or not, he was making that shot."[11]

References

  1. ^ "NBA Players Removed from U.S. Rosters". Los Angeles Times. 1998-06-17. http://articles.latimes.com/1998/jun/17/sports/sp-60729. Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  2. ^ Boehlert, Eric (2000-06-20). "NBA in disarray". Salon.com. http://dir.salon.com/story/business/feature/2000/06/20/nbaratings/index1.html. Retrieved 2009-02-13. 
  3. ^ Banks, Lacy (1998-06-15). "Pippen's Pain, Sweat and Tears". Chicago Sun-Times via NBA.com. Archived from the original on 2000-08-18. http://web.archive.org/web/20000818064042/www.nba.com/finals98/00738814.html. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  4. ^ a b c "1998 NBA Finals Game 6 Boxscore". NBA.com. 1998-06-14. http://web.archive.org/web/19990220135245/www.nba.com/games9798/980614/chiuth/boxscore.html. Retrieved 2009-02-23. 
  5. ^ a b Sheridan, Chris (1998-06-15). "Bulls win 6th NBA title". Associated Press via The Augusta Chronicle. http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/061598/spo_124-4116.shtml. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  6. ^ a b Jorgensen, Loren. "Best finals games ever in Delta Center". Deseret News. http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,635173121,00.html. Retrieved 2009-04-03. 
  7. ^ Kerber, Fred (2007-07-17). "Former NBA Ref Blasts Officiating". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/seven/08172007/sports/former_nba_ref_blasts_officiating_sports_fred_kerber.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-24. 
  8. ^ Knott, Tom (2006-12-08). "Someone has to win Eastern Conference". The Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/dec/08/20061208-123619-7969r/. Retrieved 2008-11-17. 
  9. ^ Deveney, Sean (2005-03-14). "Crying Foul". Sporting News. http://www.sportingnews.com/exclusives/20050314/607149.html. Retrieved 2007-04-29. 
  10. ^ "Michael Jordan Game-Winners: How many has Michael made?". NBA.com. http://www.nba.com/jordan/game_winners.html. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  11. ^ Lawrence, Mitch (2009-02-15). "Trade winds swirl around Vince Carter". Daily News (New York). http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/2009/02/14/2009-02-14_trade_winds_swirl_around_vince_carter.html. Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
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