Michael Jordan‘s final game with the Chicago Bulls took place on June 14, 1998. Not only did the superstar shooting guard put on a vintage performance at the age of 35, but Jordan also had arguably the greatest 41-second sequence in sports history.
An exhausted Bulls team playing with an injured Scottie Pippen trailed Game 6 of the 1998 Finals against the Utah Jazz 86-83 with 41 seconds left in regulation. It looked like the Jazz would win and force a Game 7 in Salt Lake City.
However, as he did throughout his Bulls career, Jordan put on his Superman cape and had a teammate in awe after the game ended.
Michael Jordan finished his Bulls career with a bang
With 41.0 seconds left in regulation, the Bulls found themselves down three points. The Delta Center crowd was roaring, and Jordan had very little energy left in his tank since he was doing everything for Chicago. Pippen played through a severe back injury and could barely move on the court.
With 37.0 seconds remaining, Jordan drove hard to the basket and made a tough layup to make the score 86-85. The Bulls legend then recorded one of the biggest steals in NBA history on the following possession. Karl Malone was trying to back down Dennis Rodman when MJ stole the ball from him at the 18-second mark. In classic Zen Master fashion, Bulls head coach Phil Jackson decided not to call a timeout so the Jazz couldn’t set their defense.
The Bulls opened up the floor for Jordan, who was guarded by Bryon Russell. The five-time MVP crossed over the Jazz guard and hit a jumper with 5.0 seconds left on the clock to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead. All Chicago needed was one more stop to secure championship No. 6.
Steve Kerr to Michael Jordan: ‘You’re f—–g unbelievable’
After Jordan scored four points and recorded one steal in the final 41.0 seconds, Kerr went up to him and said, “You’re f—–g unbelievable.” His Airness finished Game 6 with 45 points while shooting 13-of-35 from the field. Toni Kukoc (15) was the only other Bulls player to score in double-figures.
Jordan won his sixth Finals MVP after averaging 33.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. Kerr only put up 3.8 points per game in the six-game series and didn’t attempt a shot in Game 6. However, he was on the right team at the right time and won three rings with Jordan in Chicago in 1996, 1997, and 1998.
What Jordan did in his final 41.0 seconds as a Bulls will undoubtedly go down as one of the most incredible sequences you’ll ever see in any sport. It was the perfect ending to what was a legendary run in Chicago.
MJ’s run in Chicago was historic
In 930 games with the Bulls, Jordan averaged 31.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 5.4 assists. Along with winning five regular-season MVPs, six championships, and six Finals MVPs, Black Jesus won 10 scoring titles, the 1984-85 Rookie of the Year Award, and the 1987-88 Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Jordan is the Bulls’ all-time leader in games played, field goals, total rebounds, assists, steals, points, triple-doubles, points per game, and player efficiency rating. On top of having his No. 23 jersey hanging in the rafters at the United Center, Jordan also has a statue of himself inside the stadium.
The numbers six and 23 will forever hold deep meaning in Chicago. Jordan not only went 6-0 in the Final, but he also made the No. 23 arguably the most famous number in sports history.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.