When any athlete is coming to the end of his or her career, we all want to end it as a winner. With someone as competitive and great as Michael Jordan, there was no perfect way to go out.
The 1998 Finals would be MJ’s last, but the series in a way summed up everything Michael Jordan was about. Defense, heart, athleticism, fire and victory. When Pippen re-injured his back on the first play of the game, dunking it and landing awkwardly, the Chicago Bulls would have to rely heavily on Michael Jordan. Go figure. He scored 23 points in the first half just to keep the Bulls in it. The second half proved to be a hard-fought classic between the Bulls and Jazz and the ending would be even more of a classic.
Stockton hit a clutch three with 41 seconds left giving the Jazz a 86-83 lead. Jordan responded with a layup to cut the lead to one, but the Bulls needed one more stop to give themselves a chance. Malone was on the low block when Jordan stripped the ball with 16 seconds and brought the ball up himself in which he waited, and then drove right on Byron Russel (the so-called Jordan stopper since the Bay Boys) step back with a little bit of a push-off and drained the 20 footer holding the stance like his pop showed him how back in North Carolina. It simply immortalized Jordan as the greatest ever. Jordan had 45 points and took home his 6th MVP in 6 Finals. It was a perfect ending for a perfect career.
Ever since he hit that game winning jumper in the 1982 NCAA Championship game, the world knew this guy was different. His Rookie year he exploded onto the scene and would be known as His Airness, reaching levels in the air no man had reached before. He eventually got passed the Bad Boys and silenced every critic winning 6 NBA Titles along the way. He was challenged hundreds of times, and won every single one of them. There will be no one ever like him again, many will try none will succeed. Eventually there will be someone who will break his records because the game evolves, but Michael will always be the greatest. No matter what. He has turned 50 years old, but his legacy will forever live in Eternity. Thanks Mike and Happy 50th.