41 seconds left until the sixth game of the 1998 NBA final between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz. Karl Malone found his Hall of Fame colleague John Stockton on the right wing and delivered a laser cross court pass from the left block when Stockton was released for a wide-open three-pointer to Utah a three-point lead and to target a winning all-rounder game 7 in its championship series.
The bulls would take a break afterwards and what would follow is one of the most iconic 36-second periods in sports history – Michael Jordan scored a goal to pull the bulls within one and stole the ball from Malone in subsequent defensive possession and then hit his famous "last shot" to give Chicago a point and ultimately her sixth championship.
"Michael developed three great games to end the game, and that's what great players do. He's turned up and incredible," said former Bulls player Scott Burrell, who watched stressed out from the Chicago bank.
You can relive this moment and more while Sportsnet Game 6: The Movie airs, a detailed look with never before seen footage of the game this Sunday at 8:30 p.m. ET.
But before you look at this, take a closer look at how this famous four-point run, in which Jordan ended his bull career at the top, happened:
Bulls go two against one
One of the most important things to consider in this sequence is the fact that Jordan attacked quickly after the timeout to get a two-on-one opportunity.
If you look at the clip above, you will see that the cops were intended to give Jordan the opportunity to attack Bryon Russell one on one.
After receiving the Inbounds Pass, Jordan was already aware of the situation and quickly went on his little hesitant train before exploding by Russell for easy hanging up and pulling the cops in 37 seconds.
"You have to go if you can go," said Burrell. "I think the longer you wait in the shot clock, the more teams know what you're going to do. So he saw an opportunity, drove it hard, and got a layup."
The speed at which Jordan attacked the hole is significant because he clearly thought of giving the bull – and himself – the opportunity to fire the last shot in the game, even if Utah used the subsequent ball possession every 24 seconds Allow Chicago 13 seconds to work with it at the end of the game.
Closing the competition didn't work that way, but it was still the smartest option for the cops at the time.
In The Last Dance, Jordan, when explaining this sequence, mentioned the fact that jazz had directed this favorite game of theirs to give Malone on the left pad an opportunity they had previously made.
On Jeff Hornacek, after being blown by Russell in the previous Bulls possession, the jazz game works this way, while Stockton is positioned closer to the left base line to get the entry pass. Hornacek puts a back screen on Malones man – Dennis Rodman in this case. But instead of going with Hornacek, who cleared the corner, Jordan decided to just stay in Malone's blind spot and develop a brilliantly clean – and random – ballstrip to give the bulls the chance to win the game 18 seconds to play.
"The thing about this game that people don't realize is that the ball could so easily cross the boundaries from Dennis' leg, from Michael's leg, from Karl's leg," said Burrell. "Thank God it remained unattached and Michael could pick it up."
While the shot taken is obviously what everyone is focusing on due to its iconic nature, and also because it gave Chicago the lead five seconds before the end, Jordan had the opportunity to attack Russell as he did to help build it up Helping this 18-foot shot from the top was partially enabled because Chicago chose not to take a break, even though they had one.
"I don't think there was any thought that there should be time out there," said Burrell. "I mean, there is nothing better than having the ball in the best player in the world – the best player who has ever played." If you take a break, you give the team time to find out their defense. "
By simply running Jordan up the ball and then immediately boarding his train, he was given the opportunity to attack Russell one on one without fear of a double come because jazz couldn't do it Time and go to defense. Instead, Utah was forced to play man-to-man on a regular basis, and with the way the Bulls players spread, the entire top-of-key area remained completely open to Jordan.
"Without staying on timeout, the ball stays in MJ's hands, everyone stays low, he clears everyone out and he's unstoppable one on one," Burrell added later. "So it's the best scenario for us."
Was it an offensive foul?
It seems a question that will never go away as long as basketball is around.
According to Jordan himself in The Last Dance and Burrell, Russell's swing took him to the left and Jordan only had to guide him there enough and then stop to open the shot as he did.
"MJ saw Russell run by and it wasn't like he was slipping, he was running and MJ stopped with a pull-up sweater and I don't think he pushed. If you want to see an offensive foul, this is the game in Indiana when Reggie Miller got an offensive foul, but at the end of the game there are no fouls and you just have to be tough and play it out. "
The contact Jordan made with Russell in the replay is a compelling argument that this was a small withdrawal from Jordan, but ultimately it's a contentious point to complain about.
Not only the way everything was shaken, but also in today's game with much stricter contact rules, you are unlikely to find an official who actually makes the call.
With less than 30 seconds playing time and the best player in the world who wants to end the game, there is no way an official can make a call there. The worst thing a referee could do in this situation is to possibly determine the outcome of the game with his whistle.
Five breathless seconds remaining
Maybe because Jordan went a little too fast in this first layup, or even when he had this knight over Russell shortly before, but jazz rightly had the chance to win the game and a game 7 to force.
The game from the timeout for Utah seems to be pretty easy. Put the ball in Stockton's hands and see what it can do.
The result was actually still a pretty good look of three, though contested by Ron Harper, who only saw the ball fall a few inches short and fall out, officially marking the bull's second three goal in eight years.
As Burrell described it, there were some serious nerves on the bench at the time, as five seconds was still a good time, but luckily for Chicago, Stockton was missing.
“You still have two Hall of Famers in the leading assist leader of all time and the second scoring leader of all time. So yes, you are still nervous, the game was not over and you are playing on their home court. So you are ready for a dramatic ending, but it came out in our favor and it was time to celebrate afterwards. "