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Special Commemorative: 1996-97 NBA Champion Chicago Bulls

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Six-cess!
The Ref messed up the game on both ends...but considering Pip playing in EXTREME pain and Jordan doing what he does, the Bulls deserve it!
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Six-cess

Jordan's jumper with 5.2 seconds left gives Bulls 6th title

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Posted: Monday June 15, 1998 12:22 AM

  One more for the trophy case: Jordan holds his sixth Finals MVP trophy. No other player has won more than three ()

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Michael Jordan, practically all by himself, made the Chicago Bulls champions for one more and perhaps one last time.

Jordan scored 45 points and made the key play of the game like only he could, stealing the ball from Karl Malone and hitting a jumper with 5.2 seconds left to give Chicago an 87-86 victory and a 4-2 series victory over the Utah Jazz.

It was an incredible moment for the greatest player in the game, as dramatic as anything he has done in a title-clinching game during his magnificent career.

With the Jazz ahead 86-85 and the clock ticking inside of 15 seconds, Jordan snuck up behind Malone and poked the ball away. The sound of 20,000 people gasping filled the Delta Center as Jazz fans collectively feared what was about to happen.

And Jordan did exactly what they feared, dribbling to the foul line, pulling up to lose defender Bryon Russell and draining a jumper.

The Jazz still had one more chance, but John Stockton missed a 3-point attempt just before the buzzer.

Jordan ran to midcourt and held up six fingers to signify six championships -- one for every full season he has played this decade.

What made this one even more special was the way Jordan had to work in the clinching game. With Scottie Pippen severely hobbled by a sore back, Jordan pumped up 35 field goal attempts and 15 free throws.

Malone finished with 31 points and 11 rebounds, but scored only six points in the fourth quarter () 

He made 15 shots, including three 3-pointers, and had his highest scoring game in the finals since scoring 55 against Phoenix in 1993.

He was rewarded with his sixth finals MVP trophy and avoided playing his first Game 7 in the finals.

The Bulls have never lost a Game 6, clinching the title four previous times -- beating Portland in 1992, Phoenix in 1993, Seattle in 1996 and Utah in 1997 - without having to face a seventh game.

Now, the basketball world awaits the answer to the question of the season: Will this be the final championship for the Bulls -- or even Jordan's final game?

If it was, Jordan left everyone with something special to remember him by.

In the best-played and perhaps hardest-fought game of the series, it looked like Malone and the Jazz were going to force a seventh game.

They made Jordan earn many of his points from the foul line, got a spirited performance from Malone (31 points) and led for most of the fourth quarter.

Russell gave the Jazz an 81-79 lead on two foul shots with 3:20 left, and Utah stayed ahead until Jordan made a pair of free throws with 59 seconds left, making it 83-all.

  Fighting back: Back problems held Pippen to eight points in 26 minutes of action ()

Stockton hit a 3-pointer for Utah with 42 seconds left, and Jordan made it 86-85 by making two foul shots with 37 seconds left.

That set up the sequence where Jordan made the play of the game, leaving his man and coming around the baseline to sneak up behind Malone.

Pippen, a leading contender for the finals MVP until he had a poor Game 5, scored only eight points with four assists, three rebounds and two steals in 26 minutes, as he played in obvious pain.

Toni Kukoc had 15 points, Dennis Rodman had seven points and eight rebounds and Ron Harper scored eight.

Those contributions ended up being just enough to help the Bulls win perhaps their last Jordan-era title. Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and coach Phil Jackson may have played their last game together.

Jordan will be a free agent this summer and has spoke of retiring. Jackson has insisted that he doesn't expect to be back, and Pippen, Rodman and six others will be free agents.

The way things were going at the outset of Game 6, it looked like the Bulls might waltz away with the trophy.

Getting balanced scoring from Jordan, Pippen, Harper and Kukoc, the Bulls opened a 17-8 lead seven minutes into the game.

Sour end: Stockton (right) scored 10 points, but his would-be game-winning 3-pointer fell just short () 

But Pippen then left to go to the locker room to have his back treated, and he took his team's momentum with him.

The Jazz quickly caught up, and Malone scored seven of Utah's final eight points in the quarter as Utah finished the period ahead 25-22.

A controversial call cost the Jazz a chance to go ahead by seven. Howard Eisley made a 3-pointer just before the shot clock expired, but referee Dick Bavetta waved it off and ruled it came late. The Bulls quickly pulled even, and the game stayed tight for the rest of the first half as Jordan, with 23 points, and Malone, with 20, carried their teams.

Utah led 49-45 entering the third quarter after shooting 61 percent in the first half, and it was 59-59 with 3:01 left in the third when Pippen again left for the locker room.

The Bulls scored only two more points the rest of the quarter -- both on Jordan going 1-for-2 at the line -- and Utah took a 66-61 lead into the fourth.

Pippen returned to the game with 91/2 minutes left and the Bulls trailing 70-67, and a 3-pointer by Steve Kerr tied the game 90 seconds later. Shandon Anderson answered with a three-point play, making it 73-70 before Jordan re-entered the game with 7:42 left.

Jordan quickly scored Chicago's next four points to give the Bulls a one-point edge, and there would be three more ties the rest of the way.

Russell gave the Jazz an 81-79 lead on two foul shots with 3:20 left, and Utah stayed ahead until Jordan made a pair of free throws with 59 seconds left, making it 83-all.

Notes: Jazz owner Larry Miller, a devout Mormon who refused to attend Sunday games, was absent from his courtside seat. ... One Jazz fan brought a handmade sign that read: "How Was the Parade?" ... Harper missed Sunday morning's shootaround because of an upset stomach. ... Howard Eisley of Utah played despite an inner-ear infection. ... Jordan has scored at least 20 points in 35 consecutive finals games.

 

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With 5.2 seconds left, Utah had the ball and a chance to win ()
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