20 years later, Utah Jazz’s 1998 NBA Finals team still haunted by Jordan’s ‘Last Shot’


SALT LAKE CITY — Get ready. It’s coming.

The blogs, social media and sports shows will be flooded today with endless clips of a legendary performance that happened in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 14, 1998.

From Instagram to Facebook to Twitter, what’s simply known as the “The Last Shot” will be everywhere online. Just watch.

Two decades ago, arguably the most memorable shot of basketball’s greatest player broke many hearts at the Delta Center during Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan ended all hopes of a Utah Jazz championship with a clutch 17-foot jumper at the top of the key over Bryon Russellin the waning seconds.

“I was a step ahead of him but he kind of felt like ‘here, let me give you this extra push Russ’ and then he hit the shot but I knew he wanted to get to that sweet spot.”

Whether or not it was a push-off from Jordan that led into the iconic shot has been widely debated in the past 20 years, but the moment remains etched in basketball history as Jordan’s final field goal in a Bulls uniform.

“I knew what his hotspots were. I knew that’s where he wanted to go,” Russell described. “I was 6-7, he’s 6-6. He’s 215 and I was like 220 (pounds). So I’m like ‘he’s not going to beat me’ so he done something that not even the world has seen. He gave me that extra little push so he could get to his sweet spot.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

Micheal Jordan’s winning shot during Game 6 of the NBA Finals at the Delta Center, June 14, 1998.

“He knew what he was going to do and I knew he was trying to get there and I was trying to make sure I got him cut off,” he added. “I was a step ahead of him but he kind of felt like ‘here, let me give you this extra push Russ’ and then he hit the shot but I knew he wanted to get to that sweet spot.”

But what the casual fan won’t realize is how impressive that Jazz run was over that two-year span. With Hall of Famers John Stockton and Karl Malone picking-and-rolling to perfection, Utah reached the NBA Finals in back-to-back seasons with two consecutive 60-plus-win teams. Coach Jerry Sloan also conducted masterfully from the sidelines with a host of others such as Russell fulfilling their roles in sync as the franchise gained respect around the league as a legitimate title contender.

“That was my last year in the league. They were phenomenal,” recalled former Houston Rockets star Clyde Drexler. “Jerry Sloan was a great coach and the legacy they left has been incredible. It was a pleasure to compete against those guys for many, many years. Well, they were just very talented. No substitute for talent.”

From the start of training camp on Oct. 3, 1997 in Boise, Idaho, Jazz players could feel a different vibe around the 1997-98 …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Sports News

      

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