Today marks one of the best days in Chicago Bulls history. 22 years ago today, Michael Jordan and Co. won their sixth NBA title.
Michael Jordan provided Chicago Bulls fans with an incredible amount of amazing memories over his tenure in Chicago, but today marks the best one. On June 14, 1998, MJ, Scottie Pippen, Phil Jackson and Co. won their sixth and final ring.
There are so many things to love about that game, most of which are centered around Jordan. He was dominant, scoring a game-high 45 points (51.7 percent of the Bulls’ total points) and adding four steals. The only other Bull in double-figures was Toni Kukoc, who scored 15 points in 42 minutes of action.
Then, of course, there’s arguably the best sequence in NBA history: Jordan stripping Karl Malone in the post, coming up with the steal, going down on offense and hitting the dagger over Bryon Russell. The shot is (understandably) what most people remember, but the steal is equally as impressive. Malone catches the ball on the block and inexplicably doesn’t protect the ball from the weakside help. It’s the kind of play you just expect Michael Jordan to make at that point in his career. The Bulls didn’t have the ball, but you knew MJ would find a way to change that.
After the steal and the shot, you have my favorite moment of the game: the call by NBC’s Bob Costas. It’s one of the most legendary calls ever.
“Malone is doubled. They swat at him and steal it! Here comes Chicago. 17 seconds. 17 seconds, from Game 7 or from championship number six. Jordan, open… Chicago with the lead! Timeout Utah, 5.2 seconds left. Michael Jordan, running on fumes, with 45 points.”
During the replays, Costas added this legendary line:
“If that’s the last image of Michael Jordan, how magnificent is it?”
How many other professional athletes have their careers end in such storybook fashion? That’s part of what makes the legend of Michael Jordan so powerful. The whole thing feels like a sports movie. It’s almost too perfect for real life.
Sadly, the Bulls haven’t found much success since June 14, 1998. They’ve had a couple teams give the fanbase hope, but it never materialized into much. Now, all we have are memories of Jordan. But man, those are special memories to have.