|1997–98 Chicago Bulls season|
|Head coach||Phil Jackson|
Division: 1st (Central)|
Conference: 1st (Eastern)
(Defeated Jazz 4–2)
SportsChannel/Fox Sports Chicago
The 1997–98 NBA season was the Bulls' 32nd season in the National Basketball Association. The Bulls entered the season as the two-time defending NBA champions, where they defeated the Utah Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals in six games, winning their fifth NBA championship. During the offseason, the Bulls acquired Scott Burrell from the Golden State Warriors. Without All-Star forward Scottie Pippen for the first half of the season due to a back injury sustained from the 1997 NBA Finals, the Bulls played around .500 with a 9–7 record in November. However, Pippen would eventually return as the Bulls posted a 13-game winning streak between March and April, as they finished first place in the Central Division with a 62–20 record. In the playoffs, the Bulls defeated the New Jersey Nets 3–0 in the first round, the Charlotte Hornets 4–1 in the semifinals, and then the Indiana Pacers 4–3 in the Conference Finals en route to advance to the NBA Finals. In the Finals, they met the Utah Jazz in a rematch from last year's NBA Finals and just like last year, they would go on to defeat the Jazz in six games to win the championship. The championship was their sixth in eight years and completed the franchise's second "3-peat".
This was Michael Jordan's last season as a Bull, as he announced his second retirement after it was over. However, he did make a second comeback with the Washington Wizards in 2001. Also leaving Chicago after the season were starters Pippen and Dennis Rodman as well as head coach Phil Jackson—however, he did return to coach the Los Angeles Lakers in 1999. Because of these departures, this was the last season for the Bulls dynasty that had headlined the NBA throughout the 1990s. What followed was a long rebuilding process between 1998 and 2004, and the Bulls did not return to the postseason until 2005. The season also saw Jordan earn his fifth and final NBA Most Valuable Player Award, while being selected for the 1998 NBA All-Star Game, where he also won his third and final All-Star Game MVP Award.
Following the season, Jackson resigned as Head Coach, Jordan retired for the second time, Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets, Rodman later signed with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent, Luc Longley was dealt to the Phoenix Suns, three-point specialist Steve Kerr signed with the San Antonio Spurs, Burrell signed with the New Jersey Nets, and Jud Buechler signed with the Detroit Pistons.
|1||28||Keith Booth||SF||United States||Maryland|
|2||58||Roberto Dueñas||C||Spain||FC Barcelona (Spain)|
Chicago Bulls roster
|1997–98 NBA records|
|1997–98 game log|
Total: 62–20 (Home: 37–4; Road: 25–16)
November : 9–6 (Home: 6–1; Road: 3–5)
December : 11–3 (Home: 9–0; Road: 2–3)
January : 13–3 (Home: 6–1; Road: 7–2)
February : 10–3 (Home: 6–1; Road: 4–2)
March : 13–1 (Home: 6–0; Road: 7–1)
April : 6–3 (Home: 4–1; Road: 2–2)
|1998 playoff game log|
Total: 15–6 (Home: 10–2; Road: 5–4)
First Round: 3–0 (Home: 2–0; Road: 1–0)
Conference Semifinals : 4–1 (Home: 2–1; Road: 2–0)
Conference Finals : 4–3 (Home: 4–0; Road: 0–3)
NBA Finals : 4–2 (Home: 2–1; Road: 2–1)
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
|David Vaughn III||3||0||2.0||1.000||.000||.500||.3||.0||.00||.00||1.3|
|Chicago Bulls||Utah Jazz|
|Head Coach: Phil Jackson||Head Coach: Jerry Sloan|
|Michael Jordan||Karl Malone|
|Scottie Pippen||Jeff Hornacek|
|Dennis Rodman||John Stockton|
|Luc Longley||Bryon Russell|
|Ron Harper||Shandon Anderson|
|Steve Kerr||Adam Keefe|
|Keith Booth||Howard Eisley|
|Scott Burrell||Antoine Carr|
|Randy Brown||Greg Foster|
|Dickey Simpkins||Greg Ostertag|
|Rusty LaRue||Chris Morris|
|Bill Wennington||Jacque Vaughn|
|Jud Buechler||Troy Hudson|
|Toni Kukoč||William Cunningham|
Legend: OT denotes a game decided in overtime
|Game||Date||Home Team||Result||Road Team|
|Game 1||June 3||Utah||88-85 (OT)||Chicago|
|Game 2||June 5||Utah||88-93||Chicago|
|Game 3||June 7||Chicago||96-54||Utah|
|Game 4||June 10||Chicago||86-82||Utah|
|Game 5||June 12||Chicago||81-83||Utah|
|Game 6||June 14||Utah||86-87||Chicago|
Bulls win series 4-2
This was the first time in the 1990s that the same two teams played each other in two consecutive finals. The Jazz had won both regular season match-ups, and many analysts predicted a hard fought seven game series. Predictions of a Jazz championship were strengthened with their game one victory in overtime in Utah. The Bulls would tie the series in game 2 putting together a fourth quarter run to silence the Delta Center and holding on to win 93-88, finally securing their first victory against Utah all season.
The Finals would move to Chicago with control of the series at stake in Game 3. Though anticipation was high, no one could have expected a blow-out of the proportions seen in Game 3. With a 96-54 triumph over Utah, the Bulls would help the Jazz set an embarrassing record for the lowest points scored in Finals history and biggest margin of defeat, while everyone on the Bulls scored. The Jazz would pull themselves together in Game 4 in a better attempt to tie the series, but lost 86-82.
The early Jazz series-lead seemed like a distant memory, a false indication of a tough series as they hit the floor for Game 5 behind 3-1. Chicago fans prepared for the last game they would host with the Jordan-led Bulls of the 1990s. But any notions of a championship at the United Center would be snuffed out when Michael Jordan airballed an off-balance 3 to the right of the basket giving the Jazz a narrow 83-81 win. The play might have been for Toni Kukoč to shoot a three. With the series shifting back to Utah with a far more generous 3-2 Bulls advantage, the promise of another Chicago championship was not so certain.
The Chicago Bulls had never let a Finals series go to a Game 7.
As they arrived at the Delta Center for Game 6, things didn't look good for the Bulls. Scottie Pippen's back gave out when he dunked the opening basket of the game and he was slowed down and held to just 8 points. The Jazz suffered a bad break when the referees incorrectly nullified a Howard Eisley three-pointer that, replays showed, was clearly released just before the 24-second clock expired. In the 4th quarter, the Bulls closed the gap as Michael Jordan tallied many of his 45 overall points. Then things got worse for Chicago when John Stockton hit a clutch 3 with 41.9 seconds left to give Utah an 86-83 lead as the Delta Center crowd roared happily. Down by 3, the Bulls had one last chance to stay alive. Running perilously low on energy, it would be imperative for Chicago to win the series before the game went into OT, and also for the Bulls to avoid a Game 7 on the road when Scottie Pippen was so badly injured and their entire lineup was exhausted.
After Michael Jordan made a layup to cut the Jazz lead to one, the Bulls needed to stop the Jazz from scoring again. When John Stockton passed the ball to Karl Malone, Michael Jordan stole the ball away and dribbled to the front. Guarding him was Bryon Russell, one of the Jazz's best perimeter defenders. Jordan drove inside the 3-point line, executed a quick cross-over, and drilled a 20-ft. jump shot to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead with 5.2 seconds left. After Utah took a timeout, Stockton's 3 hit the rim and bounced away, giving the Bulls their 6th title in 8 years. The famous winning shot has been immortalized in many records, as Jordan completed a perfect sextet: 6 NBA Finals, 6 championships, and 6 NBA Finals MVP trophies.
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