The Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz shared one of the biggest rivalries in the late 90s. The Jazz who were led by John Stockton and Karl Malone were one of the best teams in the Western Conference.
They faced the Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan twice in 1997 and 1998, but unfortunately couldn’t defeat the loaded Bulls.
While Malone and Co. fell short in the Finals, the ‘Mailman’, in a recent appearance at the Knuckleheads podcast, shared an anecdote from the 1997 Finals about his former teammate Antoine Carr and why he is still vexed by him.
He said, “When I look up, a teammate of mine before the game started, we needed to win the game, the Game 4 in Utah. Game 4 we won that game but I am still pissed that I had a teammate who had a newborn son, where he had brought some shoes and he sent the shoes over for MJ to sign.
“He got a pair of MJ shoes and a ball and took it over to Michael to sign them for him. You know, what Michael did, like a OG should do. We kick your a** in (Game 4).
“He played like s**t. We beat them, but I was still pissed for the rest of that series. You can do that s**t off-season, but this motherf**ker, is over here kicking our ass and you want his autograph for your son?
“I think the world of him and I respect that teammate to this day, but it was Antoine Carr. I am pissed off about that still.”
The 1996-97 season was one of the best seasons for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. Jordan averaged 29.6 points, 4.3 assists, and 5.9 rebounds per game, while the Bulls had the best record with 69 wins and only 13 losses.
It was a very big surprise to the NBA community when Jordan was not chosen as the MVP for the season. The ‘Mailman’ Karl Malone won the trophy instead. Malone averaged 27.4 points, 4.5 assists, and 9.9 rebounds per game.
Voter fatigue might have played a big role in denying Jordan his 5th MVP title. This snub fuelled Jordan, who in an appearance in ‘the Last Dance’ confirmed the snub being one of the biggest motivating factors for him.
Jordan went on a tear as he averaged a ridiculous 32.3 points, 6 assists, 7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Not only did he win his fifth ring, he also became the Finals MVP for the 5th time.
He went on to repeat a similar performance against the Jazz in the 1998 Finals as Jordan and the Bulls won their 6th ring. Jordan who was 32 back then also won his 5th MVP title, before retiring for the second time in his career.
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