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News » Jazz seemed to bring out the best in Jordan

Jazz seemed to bring out the best in Jordan

Jazz seemed to bring out the best in Jordan Jerry Sloan and John Stockton both have impeccable Hall-of-Fame resumes ? with one glaring exception. Neither one has an NBA title ring. Yet both Sloan and Stockton will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame this Friday.

They will enter the Hall of Fame, Class of 2009, right alongside the man almost single-handedly responsible for keeping them without NBA championship jewelry ? Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Jordan, considered by most to be the best Basketball player ever, won six NBA crowns with the final two coming at the expense of Sloan, Stockton and the rest of the Utah Jazz . "Air Jordan" played well against every NBA team, of course. Yet there is no question he was a particular thorn in the side of the Jazz . Two of his most iconic moments came in NBA Finals games played on the Delta Center court, one in 1997 and then again a year later. But M.J. didn't just make Jazz fans miserable during the Finals. He also made a habit of producing huge, Hall of Fame-style games during the regular season in Salt Lake City. In fact, he scored 40 or more points eight times against the Jazz during the regular season, despite the fact the Jazz and Bulls would face each other only twice per season. Here is a countdown of Jordan's top five games against the Jazz : 5. Nov. 16, 2001 ? Jazz 101, Wizards 92 Jordan's two-year stint with the Washington Wizards ? following his "retirement" with the Bulls ? wasn't as successful as hoped. Jordan was still a quality player, but there was no question that he was past his prime. Yet, every now and then he'd show his old form. One time ? not surprisingly ? came against the Jazz . Jordan looked a decade younger than his real age of 38 when he went off for 44 points for the Wizards in a loss to the Jazz in the nation's capital. It actually was Utah's first game against Jordan since he broke their hearts in 1998, but this time Malone and Stockton came out on top, led by Malone's 38 points. "I'd still like to have him on my team," said Sloan of Jordan after the game. "That would kind of be a no-brainer." 4. Nov. 15, 1989 ? Jazz 108, Bulls 107 This is the one that got away from M.J. Jordan scored 22 of his game-high 40 points in the fourth quarter en route to giving the Bulls a 107-100 lead in the old Salt Palace with just 40 seconds remaining. Jazz fans were making their way to the exits to avoid the crowd trying to get home. "To those people right there: I'm glad they left," said Malone. The future-champion Bulls were stunned, however, when Utah scored the game's final eight points ? punctuated by a John Stockton layup at the buzzer. 3. Dec. 2, 1987 ? Bulls 105, Jazz 101 This one came during the first of Jordan's five MVP campaigns in his fourth year in the league. He averaged 35 points per game during the 1987-88 season, but was even better than that on the old Salt Palace floor. Jordan burned the Jazz for 47 points, the highest scoring total he ever had against Utah ? regular season and Finals games included ? to lead the Bulls to a four-point victory. Jordan made 17-of-27 shots from the field (63 percent) and 13-of-16 free throws for his 47 points. He also added a team-high nine assists, three blocks and four rebounds. 2. June 11, 1997 ? Bulls 90, Jazz 88 This is the famous "Flu Game" that was listed as Jordan's second-best ever performance in the book "Michael Jordan's 50 Greatest Games." Jordan finished with 38 points in this, the fifth game of the 1997 NBA Finals played at the Delta Center. That point total, however, isn't the reason this is one of M.J.'s most iconic outings. The series was tied 2-2 at the time, and the Jazz had the chance to put enormous pressure on the Bulls by winning a home game to go up 3-2 heading back to Chicago for games six and, if necessary, seven. Jordan, while staying in Park City with his Bulls teammates, came down with "flu-like symptoms" the day before the game. He spent two days so sick he could hardly even walk. "Michael was determined to get in there and penetrate, and he got to the foul line to keep us in the game there in the second quarter," said then Bulls coach Phil Jackson afterward. Jordan nearly passed out due to dehydration in the second half, but he still managed to score 15 points in the fourth quarter. With the game tied late, in fact, Jordan hit the go-ahead 3-point jumper that proved to be the difference. "I'm just glad we won," Jordan said, "because if we'd have lost, it would have been very devastating." 1. June 14, 1998 ? Bulls 87, Jazz 86 Many Jazz fans still have this one etched in their memories. It was Game 6 in the Delta Center. Jordan's best teammate, Scottie Pippen, was out with a back injury. Utah needed only to win this game and one more at home to claim that elusive NBA title. Instead, Jordan scored more than half of the Bulls total points ? 45 of 87 ? to turn a Utah celebration into heartbreak. In the final minute of the game Jordan scored on a drive to cut Utah's lead to one, stole the ball from Malone on the baseline and then nailed an open jumper after burning Bryon Russell (and pushing him off) for the game-winning 17-footer. "It was just an awesome thing. I think you have to say that Michael is the guy that comes through. He's the guy that always comes through in the clutch," said then Bulls coach Jackson. "He's a winner, and he's proven it so many times. How many times does he have to show us that he's a real-life hero." This game may be the one Jordan is most remembered for to this day ? much to the chagrin of fellow Hall of Famers Stockton and Sloan. e-mail:

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: September 8, 2009


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