By Joshua Schnitman
On June 14, 1998, Michael Jordan clinched the Chicago Bulls their sixth-and-final championship of the 1990s by coming up with a clutch steal on defense, before seconds later, knocking down one of the most unforgettable game-winning jump shots of all time. Jordan finished the Game 6 with 45 points as his step-back game-winner put the Bulls up, 87-86, against the same Karl Malone/John Stockton-led Utah Jazz team that they faced and defeated in the Finals the year prior. The 1997-98 Bulls’ season has become known as “The Last Dance:” Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and Coach Phil Jackson’s last championship run together. Jordan capped off his fifth MVP season in 1997-98 by winning his record sixth Finals MVP.
Jordan had one of the most dominant seasons on the books in 1997-98, he captured the MVP, the All-Star Game MVP, and the Finals MVP, and led the league in scoring in both the regular season and the playoffs. Jordan achieved this same unbelievable feat back in 1995-96 when he led the Bulls to a then-record 72-win season and fourth of an eventual six titles. Jordan’s clutch steal and game-winning jump shot helped the Bulls clinch their 1997-98 title. It was a most fitting way for him, one of the most clutch performers of all time, to end his storybook Bulls career.
Jordan’s iconic championship-clinching game-winner marked his final points in a Bulls uniform. He later made his third return out of retirement in 2001-02, officially ending his NBA playing career with the Washington Wizards. Following Jordan’s first cluster of championships from 1990-91 – 1992-93, he walked away from playing the game of basketball – the sport by which he had won international acclaim. After a brief minor league baseball career, Jordan returned to the Bulls late in the 1994-95 season and led them to yet another three straight titles from 1995-96 – 1997-98, cementing one of the all-time great NBA dynasties for Chicago.
Jordan, who won a record 10 scoring titles throughout his 15-year NBA playing career, was one of the most sensational athletes the world has seen. He holds the greatest career regular season per game scoring average, 30.1, as well as the greatest career playoff per game scoring average, 33.4. He became known as “Air Jordan,” early on in his career, for his mesmerizing high-flying scoring prowess and slam-dunking ability. As his career progressed, Jordan continued to hone himself into one of the most consummate post players and mid-range scorers of all time. In addition to his cream of the crop scoring artistry, Jordan was a very fine facilitator, and one of the most ferocious defensive guards imaginable.
Jordan was one of the most cutthroat competitors and one of the most spectacular athletes the world has ever witnessed. He was also certainly one of the most influential athletes of all time and countless across the globe continue to wear his Jordan brand sneakers and clothing everyday because they want to “be like Mike.”