1. Utah Jazz
During the late 1990’s, the Utah Jazz were going through their peak years. The Jazz were riding the strengths of the Hall-of-Fame duo that included point guard John Stockton and power forward Karl Malone. The Jazz wouldn’t push the Bulls as far (in terms of total number of games) in the NBA Finals as the Pacers did in the Eastern Conference Finals.
But the Jazz were certainly a difficult regular season and playoff foe for the Bulls in 1997 and 1998. It wouldn’t be easy for the Bulls to oust the Jazz in six games in the 1998 NBA Finals. There was also an iconic game for the Bulls and Jazz during the 1997-98 regular season. In the final meeting with the Bulls prior to the 1998 All-Star Break, the Jazz would take down their foe from the Windy City in dramatic fashion.
At one point in that game, the Bulls owned around a two-dozen point lead. But that lead would eventually collapse as an untimely rumor from general manager Jerry Krause would derail their hopes heading into All-Star Weekend. Krause released another statement prior to tip off of that Feb. 4, 1998 meeting between the Bulls and Jazz.
During that famed 1997-98 season, Malone averaged 27.0 points per game, 10.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.9 blocks, while shooting 53.0 percent from the field. Malone finished up second in the final MVP voting that season, only behind MJ. Meanwhile, Stockton averaged 12.0 points per game, 8.5 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.4 steals, while shooting 48.8 percent from the field. Stockton actually wouldn’t get an All-Star selection in 1998.