During his Hall of Fame career, Michael Jordan had a plethora of game-winning shots, with most of them coming with the Chicago Bulls. The six-time champion played two seasons with the Washington Wizards to finish his career, but there weren’t many highlight plays since he was old and playing on a non-playoff team.
In his prime years with the Bulls, Jordan was an assassin in crunch time. He never shied away from taking the last shot and always had defenses on their heels. During the 1997 Finals, a reporter asked MJ to name his three favorite game-winners, and the superstar could only name two because he couldn’t remember all the other ones he made.
Michael Jordan on game-winners: “I’ve had so many”
Jordan hit a game-winning shot at the buzzer over Bryon Russell in Game 1 of the 1997 Finals against the Utah Jazz. A reporter asked the UNC product if he had three favorite game-winners during his postgame media session, but the scoring machine only recalled two.
“1982 is easy,” Jordan said. “Cleveland is certainly easy. Those are the only two I can remember. I’m getting senile, I guess. I’ve had so many. I can’t even remember ’em all.”
In the 1982 NCAA Championship game between UNC and Georgetown, Jordan hit the game-winning shot to give the Tar Heels a 63-62 victory. Seven years later, His Airness hit “The Shot” versus the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the 1989 playoffs. Jordan sank a tough jumper at the buzzer over Craig Ehlo, and the Bulls won the best-of-five series.
Jordan had numerous game-winners with the Bulls. However, the shot he hit in 1982 at UNC may have been the most important one.
1982 shot was huge for Michael Jordan
In an interview with SLAM Magazine during the summer of 1997, Jordan spoke about the significance of his game-winning shot in 1982 against Georgetown.
“It gave me the confidence in game-winning situations, how to deal with the expectations and maintain your poise so that you can be successful,” Jordan said. “I mean, I don’t get rattled at close games or at the end of the game because I’ve had so many successful opportunities that I can think about. That I’m willing to live with it, the negative of missing the shot.”
Jordan also told SLAM Magazine that he “always” wanted the last shot. However, he admitted having input in the final shot was good enough for him as well.
“Always,” Jordan said when asked if he wanted the last shot. “If I wanted…I don’t have to take the last shot, but if I can have an input in the deciding of the game, I think that’s fine.”
John Paxson hit the game-winning 3-pointer against the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the 1993 Finals. Meanwhile, Steve Kerr made the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1997 Finals versus the Jazz. While Jordan was happy for Paxson and Kerr and trusted them in big situations, he wasn’t going to let anyone else but him take the final shot of the Bulls’ dynasty.
MJ made the last bucket of the Bulls’ dynasty
Jordan made a mid-range jumper over Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead with 5.2 seconds left in regulation. Chicago won its sixth championship in eight years, and the six-time Finals MVP told reporters postgame he had no intention of passing the ball after he stole it from Karl Malone.
“I had no intention of passing the ball under any circumstances,” Jordan said. “I figured I stole the ball, and it was my opportunity to win or lose the game. I would have taken that shot with five people on me.”
Both Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman said in ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries they knew Jordan was going to take the last shot. After all, everyone on the Bulls knew the team was going to be broken up by Jerry Krause after the season, so who better than Black Jesus to finish the dynasty off in style.
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