Before the game started, Jordan sat down with Ahmad Rashad of NBC Sports to talk about various subjects. At the end of the interview, Rashad asked MJ what his Christmas wish was, and the Bulls icon revealed a basketball wish since he had everything he wanted in his personal life.
In typical Jordan fashion, his basketball wish came true six months later.
Michael Jordan won his fifth MVP in 1997-98
Jordan played in all 82 games in 1997-98. He accomplished that feat nine times during his legendary career, eight times with the Bulls and once with the Washington Wizards.
After averaging 28.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists during the regular season, Jordan was voted as the league’s MVP for the fifth time. He also led the NBA in points per game, capturing his 10th scoring title.
The Bulls went 62-20, finishing with the best record in the Eastern Conference. They defeated the New Jersey Nets, Charlotte Hornets, and Indiana Pacers in the ’98 East playoffs to advance to their sixth Finals, where Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz awaited them.
Jordan and the Bulls defeated the Jazz in the ’97 Finals in six games, so Malone and Co. were out for revenge. Utah had homecourt advantage in the ’98 Finals and felt confident they could dethrone Chicago.
However, as he did his entire career, Jordan broke the Jazz’s hearts.
The Bulls beat the Jazz in six games again
Behind Jordan and Scottie Pippen, the Bulls defeated the Jazz in the ’98 Finals to capture their sixth championship and third threepeat. MJ won his sixth Finals MVP and hit the game-winning shot over Bryon Russell in Game 6.
The Jazz won Game 1 at home to start the series off on the right foot. However, the Bulls won Games 2, 3, and 4 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead. Everyone thought they would finish the series in Game 5 at the United Center, but Utah won 83-81 behind 39 points from Malone.
Pippen played through a series back injury in Game 6 and only took seven shots in 25 minutes. Jordan played 43 minutes and poured in 45 points while shooting 15-of-35 from the field. The Bulls’ second-leading scorer was Toni Kukoc, who finished with 15 points.
June 14, 1998, was the final time Jordan played for the Bulls. He ended his Chicago career on top of the basketball world for the sixth time, something he wished for on December 25, 1997.
Michael Jordan’s Christmas wish in 1997 came true
When Rashad asked him what was on the top of his Christmas list on December 25, 1997, Jordan said he hoped the Bulls finished the season on a great note since he knew it was the “Last Dance.”
“I’d love for us to finish out on a great note,” Jordan said. “That would be a heck of a Christmas present. I think that what we all would love to have is to walk out a winner if this just so happens to be our last year.”
The Bulls won six championships in an eight-year span. They are one of the best dynasties in sports history, and Jordan is universally recognized as the greatest basketball player of all time. He finished his stellar career with averages of 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists and is the NBA’s all-time leader in points per game.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.