Michael Jordan drives toward the paint, stops, dribbles back, nudges Bryon Russell. Bang. Game-winner. Chicago Bulls defeat the Utah Jazz in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals to take home his sixth championship, and the Bulls’ second three-peat in eight years. We all remember it quite fondly, especially after watching ‘The Last Dance’ on ESPN last night. The 10-part documentary series went in-depth on the ‘98 Bulls and MJ’s legacy in Chicago.
So we all know what happened in ‘98 with the Bulls and Jazz. The second time in a row the two teams met in the Finals after the Bulls won in 1997. We know about the “Flu Game” and the “pizza” that Jordan ate that night back in ‘97. MJ was pretty run down by Game 6 in 1998.
We saw the Scottie Pippen injury in Game 6 and we saw Dennis Rodman go AWOL before Game 4. So what if Jordan doesn’t hit that shot in Game 6 to immortalize his name? Well, we’d have a Game 7 in Utah that would have been pretty interesting. A tweet by Tim Doyle of CBS Sports sparks an interesting debate: Who would you have picked against the spread? Bulls or Jazz?
Jazz would have been -3 “if” there was a Game 7 of 1998 Finals vs the Bulls. The whole world would have loaded up on Chicago. With Jordan on fumes & Pippen not being able to move, the right play was the Jazz. But could you bet against MJ? #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/fFnVrkZp9L— Tim Doyle (@TimDoyle00) May 18, 2020
He suggests the Jazz would have been favored by 3.0 points. YES, 3.0 POINTS. Against Michael Jordan and the Bulls in a Game 7. Mind you, the Bulls didn’t play in many Game 7s in the playoffs. They didn’t have to. They’d beat you well before that time. Really, if we’re talking straight basketball, you take Jordan and the Bulls 10/10 against Karl Malone, John Stockton and the Jazz in Game 7 in ‘98. That spread should be closer to a toss-up in my mind. A pick ‘em. Other than that Game 3 blowout, every contest was decided by 5.0 or fewer points — Games 5 and 6 were both decided by two or fewer points.
There is almost no doubt in my mind that Jordan wins this game. Knowing it could have been his last. Knowing the dynasty was coming to an end. After watching that documentary, growing up watching MJ, idolizing him — call me biased if you want, but you know it’s true.
The only things that concern me are Scottie Pippen’s back and Dennis Rodman going AWOL again. Pippen could barely play in Game 6 and was a decoy late in the game. Rodman had gone off to become a wrestler very briefly after Game 3’s blowout. There’s a chance he goes off again, but that was Rodman — he didn’t care and most of the time he was ready on the court anyway. Let Rodman have his fun with the Hulkster and NWO and be done with it.
We don’t know if Jordan catches that bug again staying in Utah a few more nights. NONE OF THIS MATTERS BECAUSE I’M STILL GETTING POINTS ON THE GREATEST PLAYER EVER WINNING THE BIGGEST GAME OF HIS LIFE. Boyle says, “the whole world would have loaded up on Chicago” and he’s absolutely right, because it’s MJ and the Bulls. They were virtually unbeatable. Which is exactly why virtually in the year 2020 I’m still going with the GOAT.