NBA Greatest Moments:Jordan & the Jazz


Now, I’m a Bulls lover, and a Michael Jordan enthusiast, however whether you share the passion, I’m sure we can all agree that when MJ announced his retirement, we knew basketball wouldn’t be the same. And this final shot proved to really let that thought fester and force us to never forget his legacy on the game.

On this day, the Utah Jazz had the Delta Center PACKED to capacity, and everyone knew the ball would end up in Jordan’s hands to do what he does best in the final seconds of close games ─ win the game. Chicago believed in him and trusted him, and the Bulls’ bench knew this decision was a no-brainer. He was the NBA’s worst-kept secret, however nobody could find a way to contain him. (This is why he is considered G.O.A.T.).

What was special about this play is that no plays needed to be called. All Jordan needed was the ball and some time to do his thing. You would’ve thought the Jazz would have already learned that when the game is on the line, and there’s more pressure on him than the deepest depths of the Pacific Ocean, that’s when His Royal Airness comes out of hibernation.

Michael-Jordan-going-1-on-1-against-Bryon-RussellWith the Bulls behind by three points in the final minute or so of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, MJ scores on a drive to the basket. In the immediate following play, MJ rips up Karl Malone and brings the ball back downcourt. Now, don’t get me wrong, Bryon Russell is one of the greatest defensive players of ALL time (at least to me he is), but Super Michael made it seem like Russell was taking a lesson from the Gods. With a beautiful pullback (and possible slight push), MJ knocks down the game-winning 20-footer with 5.2 seconds remaining to give the Bulls an 87-86 win to cap off the repeat of the 3-peat!

MJ had done it. Finishing with 45 points, he takes home his sixth MVP award in eight years and leaves us with the most beautiful goodbye letter with this final shot. “Let’s face it, we all hopped on Michael’s back. He just carried us,” Bulls sharpshooter Steve Kerr recalls. “That guy is just ridiculous. He is so good it’s scary.”

Psh…YEA, HE IS!!

“As soon as Russell reached, he gave me a clear lane. I made my initial drive, and he bit on it, and I stopped, pulled up and I had an easy jump shot,” Jordan said. “I had a great look, and it went in. Once it went in I knew from that point on, we’ve been hanging around long enough, it was the game-winning basket, and it was a matter of playing solid defense. Our defense has held us strong all series, we wouldn’t be in this scenario without the defense. All we had to do was play defense for 5.8 seconds, and I knew we could do that.”

Said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, “You can’t afford to give them second chances, with Michael Jordan out there, he was going to make the plays, he was able to do that and you live with that.”

Cheers to the greatest memory of the great Michael Jordan and his final shot…in a Bulls jersey.


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Malcolm Branch
Sports Activist for The Cover 4

The Cover 4 Greatest Basketball Moments: The “One-Two” Step


The night was March 300, 1997. In the red corner you have His Royal Airness himself, Michael Jordan. Jordan was set to make an appearance at the brand new Wells Fargo Arena in Philadelphia. In the blue corner you have the young rookie, whom we know as “The Third- Degree,” aka “AI,” aka “The Answer,” aka “Me, Myself and Iverson,” but most commonly addressed simply as Allen Iverson. It’s every young hooper’s dream to make it to the League and compete against those whom they look up to, with the hopes of even teaching THEM a thing or too. Unfortunately, the only time 90 percent of us can “live” that dream is when we turn on our game systems. But for Iverson, this night would provide AI with the opportunity to showcase one of the greatest moments in basketball history.

The initial hesitation-stutter crossover exposed MJ’s lack of balance in comparison to the much quicker AI. After Mike regroups himself, Iverson then gives Jordan one more crossover, plus a sidestep and then pulls up for a free-throw line jumper…SWISH!

Now, naturally, being a Bulls fan and a lover of all things Jordan, I felt like my ankles had been broken in spirit with MJ. But nonetheless, this play capped off a tremendous rookie campaign for this Rookie of the Year. Who would have thought such a simple one-two crossover can leave such a memorable impression?

Now, we have all heard word by now about AI OFFICIALLY announcing his retirement this past week (despite being absent from any global roster since the 2010-’11 season). Even though this potential/possible/”questionable” (all pun intended) HOF inductee may not have been able to afford a burger last year, he answered the questions of all doubters and left rich moments that will forever be remembered.

Cheers to Allen Iverson!

How the West was Won

I’m not a Laker fan nor do I claim to be on the Laker bandwagon. The only time I ever rooted for the Lakers was when my boy Shaquille O’Neal was Kazaaming the streets of LA with his sidekick Kobe Bryant.

Who will ever forget the alley oop that Kobe sent to Shaq  in Game 7 of the 2000 West Finals against the Blazers?! One of the best moments of my young life. Too bad Shaq and Kobe let their egos get in the way because they would still be winning rings (okay maybe not but they would have won plenty more).

Gives you chills doesn’t it?

Although I’m in a serious relationship with football, my first love was basketball but we all know white men can’t jump and my basketball dreams went out the window real quick.

I love the offseason, sometimes more than I love the actual games. Player movement and free agency just gets me so excited; I love the idea of wooing players to join the team or trading pieces to get to the championship. When the rumors of Dwight Howard being traded surfaced I thought he would be a Net. The idea of Howard being traded to the Lakers was near impossible. As the trade rumors began to progress, I figured there was no way other GMs would let this move happen. If it did then Bynum & Gasol MUST be included for competitive balances sake. The Lakers would have to part with their entire squad. Wrong.

KD5 and the rest of the Thunder team have a very bright future but when news broke that the Lakers acquired Nash & Howard, I sent in my ticket to the sports book for the NBA Finals. (Call Kendrick Perkins the Howard stopper if you please. He has only slowed Howard down and has lost about 60 pounds since).

Nothing against any team in the West but a combo of Kobe, Howard, Nash, Gasol plus some solid bench players (Jamison is still a solid player at his old age) sounds unreal, on paper of course.

Nash won’t need to carry the team like he did in Phoenix and should be a very effective player with the Lakers. Nash may not be the best defensive player (to say the least) but he  does has Howard protecting his back. The former two-time MVP will be running the pick ‘n roll for days.

Howard and Gasol give the Lakers one of the biggest front courts in the NBA; Gasol will no longer need to take any pressure off Kobe and can be the effective role player he really is (Gasol may be the worst star in the NBA. He has so much talent but doesn’t know how or when to put it all together).

When Kobe Bryant finally passed Shaquille O’Neal in the ring count, numerous sources reported Kobe was taunting Shaq; he was eying that moment for years. Now that he has surpassed the Diesel, the Black Mamba has his sight on something bigger: passing the almighty Michael Jordan. But can he do it?

Kobe and crew have a dream squad for Laker faithful. The team has one of the best players of all-time, the most dominant big man in the game, one of the smoothest point guards in the past decade, Ron ron defensive skills and a few other pieces to bring a championship home to LA.

We all know that championships aren’t won on paper nor in the offseason but if the Lakers can mesh together, they look poised for another Championship run and a probable meeting with the defending Champion Miami Heat.

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