Sports

Michael Jordan Pushed Off Bryon Russell in 1998, Utah Judge Ruled 19 Years Later

Everyone has their own opinion on Michael Jordan’s series-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. Did he push off Bryon Russell or was it a clean crossover? Should the shot have even counted? Whatever side you’re on, no one can change history, but that didn’t stop a Utah judge from attempting to do so 19 years after the iconic shot.

Michael Jordan hit game-winner over Bryon Russell in 1998 NBA Finals

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Every basketball fan remembers where they were when Michael Jordan hit “The Last Shot” in 1998. It was Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Chicago Bulls were on the cusp of winning six titles in eight years, but the Utah Jazz had the chance to send the series to a deciding seventh game.

The Jazz held onto a one-point lead, and they had possession of the ball with 20 seconds left in the game. That was until Jordan stripped Karl Malone from behind and gave the Bulls one final shot.

Everyone in the arena knew who was taking that final shot, but it didn’t matter. Jordan dribbled right and got to his spot at the top of the key before stopping on a dime and crossing back over to the left. Bryon Russell went flying by as Jordan’s hand looked to possibly nudge the Jazz guard to the ground.

The whistles remained silent and the ball swished through the hoop with 5.2 seconds remaining. The Bulls went on to win the 1998 Finals, and the iconic shot turned out to be Jordan’s last in Chicago.

The ‘push-off’ is one of the most debated plays in sports history

Although the possible push-off happened over 20 years ago, the play is still hotly debated to this day. Jazz fans are convinced Jordan pushed off to get an open shot. Bulls fans retain it was a clean crossover. The impartial NBA fans all fall on one side or the other.

Whoever you root for, you have an opinion on “The Last Shot.” Maybe the referees wanted to swallow their whistles and let the players decide the game. Maybe Jordan had extra leeway with the refs by that point in his career. And maybe there was never a foul to begin with and the refs made a correct no-call.

Either way, you’ll never convince a push-off truther that it was clean, and vice versa. All that matters is there was no call on the floor that day, and the Bulls went on to win their sixth NBA title in eight years. Nothing is going to change that, not even a court ruling 19 years later.

A Utah judge ruled the infamous play a foul in 2017 court case

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Some Jazz fans got over the series loss shortly after the Finals, but some still hold a grudge today. The most notable Utah fan who still isn’t over the no-call is Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Matthew Durrant. In 2017, Durrant went so far as to rule the push off a foul in court.

I know that some argue he did not push off; most of them live in Chicago. But after much consideration, I am now prepared to rule. He pushed off. And if you think I don’t have the power to decide that, you haven’t read the Utah Constitution.

Judge Matthew Durrant, Salt Lake Tribune

Whatever Durrant was trying to accomplish, he can never rewrite the history books. Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls will always be the 1998 NBA champions, no matter what a biased judge might say.