1998 NBA Finals
|Announcers||Bob Costas, Doug Collins and Isiah Thomas|
|Announcers||Brent Musburger, Jim Durham (Game 6), and Jack Ramsay|
|Hall of Famers||Bulls:
Michael Jordan (2009)
Scottie Pippen (2010)
Dennis Rodman (2011)
John Stockton (2009)
Karl Malone (2010)
Phil Jackson (2007)
Jerry Sloan (2009)
Tex Winter (2011)
Dick Bavetta (2015)
|Eastern Finals||Bulls defeat Pacers, 4-3|
|Western Finals||Jazz defeat Lakers, 4-0|
The 1998 NBA Finals was the championship round of the National Basketball Association (NBA)'s 1997–98 season. The Eastern Conference champion Chicago Bulls played against the Western Conference champion Utah Jazz, with the Jazz holding home-court advantage with the first 2 games in Salt Lake City. In a repeat of the previous year's Finals, the Bulls won the series 4 games to 2 for their third consecutive NBA title and their sixth in eight seasons. Michael Jordan was voted the NBA Finals MVP of the series (he also had won the award the last five times the Bulls won the Finals: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, and 1997). This would be his sixth NBA championship and sixth Finals MVP award in six full basketball seasons. Until 2014, it was the last consecutive Finals rematch between two teams.
The 1998 Finals garnered the highest Nielsen TV ratings in NBA history at 18.7, and even surpassed the Nielsen ratings for the 1998 World Series, marking the first time the NBA had a higher rating in its championship round than of Major League Baseball's championship round.
The 1998 NBA season documentary "Unforgettabulls" was the first of five narrated by Will Lyman through NBA Entertainment, which recaps the entire Bulls' season. Rick Telander narrates on the opening credits. Marv Albert narrates the timeline of Michael Jordan's career with the Bulls.
- 1 Background
- 2 Starting Lineups
- 3 1998 NBA Finals roster
- 4 Series summary
- 5 Game summaries
- 6 Television coverage
- 7 Quotes from the Finals
- 8 Aftermath
- 9 See also
- 10 External links
- 11 References
The series marked the first time since 1989 that the same two teams would meet in the Finals in consecutive years. The Jazz earned the league's best record by virtue of sweeping the two-game regular season series with the Bulls despite both teams finishing at 62 wins. In the playoffs, the Jazz were pushed to the brink by the Houston Rockets before winning Game 5 in Utah, and then overcame Rookie of the Year Tim Duncan and the San Antonio Spurs 4–1 before sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in four games in the Western Conference finals. The Bulls would sweep the New Jersey Nets and then took out the Charlotte Hornets in five games, but it would take a seventh game before overcoming the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.
Road to the Finals
|Utah Jazz (Western Conference Champion)||Chicago Bulls (Eastern Conference Champion)|
1st seed in the West, best league record
|Defeated the (8) Houston Rockets, 3–2||First Round||Defeated the (8) New Jersey Nets, 3–0|
|Defeated the (5) San Antonio Spurs, 4–1||Conference Semifinals||Defeated the (4) Charlotte Hornets, 4–1|
|Defeated the (3) Los Angeles Lakers, 4–0||Conference Finals||Defeated the (3) Indiana Pacers, 4–3|
Regular season series
The Utah Jazz won both games in the regular season series:
Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame ‡
|Ron Harper||PG||John Stockton‡|
|Michael Jordan‡||SG||Jeff Hornacek|
|Scottie Pippen‡||SF||Adam Keefe|
|Dennis Rodman‡||PF||Karl Malone‡|
|Luc Longley||C||Greg Foster|
1998 NBA Finals roster
Chicago Bulls roster
Utah Jazz roster
|Game||Date||Home Team||Result||Road Team|
|Game 1||Wednesday, June 3||Utah Jazz||88-85 OT (1-0)||Chicago Bulls|
|Game 2||Friday, June 5||Utah Jazz||88-93 (1-1)||Chicago Bulls|
|Game 3||Sunday, June 7||Chicago Bulls||96-54 (2-1)||Utah Jazz|
|Game 4||Wednesday, June 10||Chicago Bulls||86-82 (3-1)||Utah Jazz|
|Game 5||Friday, June 12||Chicago Bulls||81-83 (3-2)||Utah Jazz|
|Game 6||Sunday, June 14||Utah Jazz||86-87 (2-4)||Chicago Bulls|
Bulls win the series 4–2.
Games 1 and 2
Unlike the 1997 Finals, the Jazz and Bulls entered this series as equals. The Jazz had won both regular season match-ups with the Bulls, and many analysts predicted a hard-fought seven-game series. The two teams entered the Finals on completely different notes; the Jazz had swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals and would have a total of ten days rest before the Finals began. The Bulls, meanwhile, needed seven games to get past the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals and had just two days rest before having to travel to Utah. Predictions of a Jazz championship were strengthened with their Game 1 victory in overtime in Utah, with Scottie Pippen just missing a wild 3 at the buzzer. True to form, the Bulls tied the series in Game 2 while putting together a huge fourth-quarter run to silence the Delta Center and holding on to win 93-88, finally securing their first victory against Utah all season. Karl Malone shot very poorly in the first two games of the series with some dreadful misses including one rushed layup in Game 2 that hit the underside of the rim.
The finals moved to Chicago with control of the series at stake in Game 3. Though anticipation was high, no one could have expected the blow-out seen in Game 3. In a 96-54 humiliation, the Jazz set the record for the lowest points scored in Finals history, as well as the lowest number of points scored in any NBA game (since eclipsed by a score of 49 from the Bulls on April 10, 1999) since the inception of the shot clock. Also, every player on the Bulls roster scored.
The Jazz pulled themselves together in Game 4 in a better, though vain attempt to tie the series.
The Jazz' early series-lead seemed like a distant memory, a false indication of a tough series as they entered Game 5 down 3–1 in the series. Chicago fans prepared for the last game they would host with the Jordan-led Bulls of the 90's. But any notions of a championship on the home floor died when Michael Jordan airballed an off-balance, catch-and-shoot 3 at the buzzer, preserving Utah's narrow 83-81 victory after they almost blew a 7-point lead in the last 2 minutes. Karl Malone had his best game of the series, scoring 39 points. Antoine Carr made all 5 of his field goal attempts, mainly on 20-foot jumpers in the second half. With the series shifting back to Utah with a far more generous 3-2 Bulls advantage, the promise of another Chicago championship wasn't so certain.
As they arrived at the Delta Center for Game 6, things didn't look good for the Bulls. Scottie Pippen, whose back was already injured going into the game, aggravated his injury when he dunked the opening basket of the game. He scored only 8 points the entire game. To keep pace with Utah, the Bulls were forced to rely almost entirely on Jordan, who scored 23 points in the first half. Emotions ran high at the Delta Center when the Jazz discovered problems of their own when they suffered a couple of shot clock violations. TV replays showed that the ball was out of Howard Eisley's hands before the shot clock hit zero and referee Dick Bavetta missed the call. The Bulls behind Jordan tied the game with a minute left. The Jazz then received a jolt as John Stockton hit a clutch 3 with 41.9 seconds left to give Utah an 86-83 lead and send the Delta Center into a frenzy.
After Michael Jordan made a layup to make it 86–85, the Bulls needed to stop the Jazz from scoring again. When John Stockton passed the ball to Karl Malone, Michael Jordan stole the ball away and dribbled to the front. Guarding him was Bryon Russell, one of the Jazz's best perimeter defenders. With 10 seconds remaining, Jordan started to dribble right, then crossed over to his left. Jordan hit the 20-foot jumper to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead with 5.2 seconds left. After a time-out, Stockton's 3-pointer missed, giving the Bulls their sixth NBA title in 8 years. Jordan, who scored 45 points, and whose game-winning shot has been immortalized around the world, was named Finals MVP.
The Finals were televised in the United States by NBC, with Bob Costas on play-by-play and Doug Collins and Isiah Thomas serving as color analysts. Hannah Storm hosted the pre-game show, assisted by Bill Walton, John Salley and Peter Vescey, and Ahmad Rashad and Jim Gray reported from the sidelines.
Quotes from the Finals
Jordan... open... Chicago with the lead!! Timeout, Utah; 5.2 seconds left; Michael Jordan running on fumes with 45 points.— NBC's Bob Costas calling Michael Jordan's Game 6 and championship-winning shot
11... 10... Jordan... Jordan, a drive! Hangs, fires, SCORES!! He scores! The Bulls lead 87-86 with five and two-tenths left, and now they are one stop away! Oh my goodness!— Bulls announcer Neil Funk calling the same play
Stockton... Harper's on him. Behind the screens! Harper got a piece of it, it comes off... (time expires) The Chicago Bulls have won their 6th NBA championship, and it's their second three-peat.— NBC's Bob Costas calling the end of Game 6 and the series
To date, the series would be the last Finals appearances for both the Bulls and Jazz. After the season, the Bulls dynasty broke up. Without its key personnel this championship team, the Bulls missed the playoffs in the lockout-shortened 1999 season, winning just 13 of 50 games. The Bulls would not make the postseason again until 2005, win a playoff series until 2007, and earn the Eastern Conference top seed until 2011. The city of Chicago would not see another big league championship until Major League Baseball's Chicago White Sox won the 2005 World Series and end their 88-year title drought. Like the Bulls, the White Sox are owned by Jerry Reinsdorf, whose 2005 World Series championship is his seventh overall. The United Center would not host another championship series until the National Hockey League's Chicago Blackhawks won the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals, ending their 49-year title drought.
Phil Jackson declined an offer from the team president to coach another season. He would resurface as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999, winning five NBA titles in two separate stints with the club before retiring in 2011. Ron Harper followed Jackson to the Lakers and won championships within his final two seasons, in 2000 and 2001.
In January 1999, Michael Jordan announced his retirement for the second time; he would come out of retirement for the second and final time in 2001 with the Washington Wizards and played two seasons with the team. Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets during the off-season and played his last season (2003–04) with the Bulls. Rodman, released by the Bulls in the off-season, signed with the Lakers mid-season, playing only 23 games before being released. In January 1999, the Bulls re-signed Steve Kerr and traded him to the San Antonio Spurs, where he would win two more championships in 1999 and 2003, his last year in the league. Luc Longley also retired in 2001.
The Jazz would continue to make the post-season until 2003, John Stockton's last season, and next made the Western Conference Finals in 2007 but lost in five games to the San Antonio Spurs. For the next three seasons, the Jazz made the postseason but each time was eliminated by Phil Jackson's Los Angeles Lakers (2008 conference semifinals, 2009 first round, 2010 conference semifinals). Jazz head coach Jerry Sloan resigned in February 2011.
Antoine Carr and Chris Morris became free agents after the Finals, signed with other teams, and retired by 2000. Jeff Hornacek retired in 2000 after two more seasons with Utah. After five more seasons with the Jazz, Karl Malone spent his final season of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Lakers lost the 2004 NBA Finals.
The 2005-06 postseason saw the retirement or departure from the NBA of these former members of the 1998 Finals teams: Howard Eisley, Greg Ostertag, Shandon Anderson, Bryon Russell, and Toni Kukoč. Eisley remained with the Jazz the next two seasons and 2004–05 and ended his career with the Denver Nuggets. In July 2006, the Nuggets traded Eisley to the Chicago Bulls, but the Bulls later waived Eisley before the 2006-07 season. Ostertag retired in 2006 after having played all but one season since the 1998 Finals with the Jazz; he played for the Sacramento Kings in 2004-05. In his second season with the team and final season of his career, Anderson won an NBA championship as a backup for the Miami Heat in 2006. Like Eisley, Russell played his final NBA season with the Denver Nuggets in 2005-06; Russell played three years afterward with teams in the American Basketball Association and International Basketball League.
From 1999 to 2011, the Western Conference champion team—Los Angeles Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, and Dallas Mavericks—has been from the states of California or Texas. Three other teams from the Central Division have been the Eastern Conference champion since that year: the Indiana Pacers in 2000, Detroit Pistons in 2004 and 2005, and Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007. The streak was finally broken when the Oklahoma City Thunder won the 2012 Western Conference championship over the Spurs and other is the Golden State Warriors in 2015.
From NBA official site
- 1998 Playoff Results
- 1998 NBA Finals Recap
- Official Website on NBA.com at the Wayback Machine (archived January 17, 1999)
- Michael Jordan's Shot in Game 6
Other sites on the internet
- 1998 NBA Finals Summary and Linescores
- Greatest Finals Moments
- Former NBA official's take on Jordan's series-winning shot
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