DAR Sports: 1997 NBA Finals: Chicago Bulls vs Utah Jazz

By @TrueGodImmortal

If you've been following our NBA Finals column on the site, you'll notice a few things: I've covered 5 out of the 6 Jordan championships, all 5 of the Kobe championships, both of the Rockets championships, but none of the Spurs titles. Well, next week that will change, as I'll finally discuss one of the series that the Spurs won. However today? We discuss the 5th championship ring for Jordan, the 2nd title in his 2nd 3-Peat. This series was epic in many ways for various reasons, including the infamous "flu game".

The Jazz got to the big dance for this first time on the strength of John Stockton and Karl Malone and the balanced team led by the coaching of Jerry Sloan. The Jazz were the top team in the West going 64-18 and advancing to the Finals with wins over the Clippers, the Lakers, and the Rockets. The Bulls had a stellar season going 69-13, and ended up defeating the Bullets(Wizards), the Hawks, and the Heat to advance. As the series kicked off, we were in for a treat.

*Game 1

-This game was close throughout but the Bulls managed to pull it out at home. While it was a low scoring game, both teams played hard and even Scottie Pippen after an injury in the Eastern Conference Finals contributed 27 points for a 84-82 Bulls win to give them a 1-0 advantage. The game winning shot for the Bulls came from the GOAT himself, as Jordan finished the game with 31 points and 8 assists. Karl Malone, who missed some possible game winning free throws, scored 23 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Jazz but it wasn't enough. Heading into game 2, the Bulls were ready.

*Game 2

-Michael played amazing in game 2, and the Jazz couldn't find a way to contain Jordan. The Bulls would dominate most of this game and truly put their mark on this series with a 97-85 victory to go up in the series 2-0. One could not deny Jordan as he finished with 38 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists. Amazing  performance from the Bulls but could the Jazz respond in game 3?

*Game 3

-Yes they could. The Jazz dominated game 3 and the Bulls really couldn't get anything going it seemed during this one outside of a fourth quarter run to cut the deficit down from 24 points to 7 points, but that wasn't enough as the Jazz won 104-93 led by Karl Malone and a stellar performance with 37 points and 10 rebounds. The Jazz made the series 2-1 and would now try to take game 4 and take more momentum.

*Game 4

-This was not necessarily the best game as it was pretty low scoring and Jordan only finishes with 22 points, but the Jazz pulled out a victory in game 4 78-73. This pushed the series now to 2-2, forcing us to at least go to a game 6. Malone would finish with 23 points and 10 rebounds, setting the tone for the most memorable game of the series.

*Game 5

-You know this game well. It's widely regarded as the "Flu Game". Jordan got what was believed to be food poisoning from a pizza he ate the night before and then all of a sudden he was found in a fetal position in his hotel room. With Jordan being told not to play and all the momentum on the Jazz side, it looked grim for the Bulls. However, Jordan ended up playing and would be the deciding factor in this game. Despite showing very little energy in the game, Jordan would be the leading scorer for the Bulls, with 38 points, as he led the Bulls to a 90-88 victory to put them up 3-2 in the series. The image of Jordan falling into the arms of Pippen near the end of the game is still an iconic one. With this win, the Bulls inched closer to the title. Could they secure the championship win? Or would the Jazz force game 7?

*Game 6

-Back in Chicago, the series would end here. Jordan was not fully recovered but managed to put in a great performance with 39 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 assists. Chicago would end the series with this 90-86 win and they would solidify themselves as a dynasty yet again. Jordan would win Finals MVP, and while I don't think this series was better than the 98 Finals, it is still very vital to the Bulls and Jordan's legacy as well.

Your 1997 NBA Champions, Chicago Bulls!!



Popular Posts