Michael Jordan : biography
Although he hadn’t played an NBA game in a year and a half, Jordan played well upon his return, making a game-winning jump shot against Atlanta in his fourth game back. He then scored 55 points in the next game against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 28, 1995 (his first appearance at Madison Square Garden since retiring). Boosted by Jordan’s comeback, the Bulls went 13–4 to make the playoffs and advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Orlando Magic. Though at the end of Game 1, Orlando’s Nick Anderson stripped Jordan from behind, leading to the game-winning basket for the Magic; he would later comment that Jordan "didn’t look like the old Michael Jordan",Lawrence, Mitch. , ESPN, September 10, 2001. Retrieved December 16, 2008. after which Jordan returned to wearing his old number. Jordan averaged 31 points per game in the series, but Orlando prevailed in 6 games.
Freshly motivated by the playoff defeat, Jordan trained aggressively for the 1995–96 season.Kerr, Steve. , BBC. Retrieved March 16, 2007. Strengthened by the addition of rebound specialist Dennis Rodman, the Bulls dominated the league, starting the season 41–3,, databasebasketball.com. Retrieved January 20, 2007. and eventually finishing with the best regular season record in NBA history: 72–10. Jordan led the league in scoring with 30.4 ppg,, National Basketball Association. Retrieved January 15, 2007. and won the league’s regular season and All-Star Game MVP awards. In the playoffs, the Bulls lost only three games in four series, defeating the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA Finals to win the championship. Jordan was named Finals MVP for a record fourth time, surpassing Magic Johnson’s three Finals MVP awards. He also achieved only the second sweep of the MVP Awards in the All-Star Game, regular season and NBA Finals, Willis Reed having achieved the first, during the 1969–70 season. Because this was Jordan’s first championship since his father’s murder, and it was won on Father’s Day, Jordan reacted very emotionally upon winning the title, including a memorable scene of him sobbing on the locker room floor with the game ball.
In the 1996–97 season, the Bulls started out 69–11, but narrowly missed out on a second consecutive 70-win season by losing their final two games to finish 69–13., databasebasketball.com. Retrieved January 16, 2007. However, this year Jordan was beaten for the NBA MVP Award by Karl Malone. The Bulls again advanced to the Finals, where they faced Malone and the Utah Jazz. The series against the Jazz featured two of the more memorable clutch moments of Jordan’s career. He won Game 1 for the Bulls with a buzzer-beating jump shot. In Game 5, with the series tied at 2, Jordan played despite being feverish and dehydrated from a stomach virus. In what is known as the "Flu Game", Jordan scored 38 points, including the game-deciding 3-pointer with 25 seconds remaining.Burns, Marty. , Sports Illustrated, January 16, 1999. Retrieved February 23, 2007. The Bulls won 90–88 and went on to win the series in six games. For the fifth time in as many Finals appearances, Jordan received the Finals MVP award. During the 1997 NBA All-Star Game, Jordan posted the first triple double in All-Star Game history in a victorious effort; however, he did not receive the MVP award. Jordan and the Bulls compiled a 62–20 record in the 1997–98 season. Jordan led the league with 28.7 points per game, securing his fifth regular-season MVP award, plus honors for All-NBA First Team, First Defensive Team and the All-Star Game MVP. The Bulls captured the Eastern Conference Championship for a third straight season, including surviving a grueling seven-game series with Reggie Miller’s Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference Finals; it was the first time Jordan had played in a Game 7 since the 1992 series with the Knicks. After prevailing, they moved on for a rematch with the Jazz in the Finals.
The Bulls returned to Utah for Game 6 on June 14, 1998 leading the series 3–2. Jordan executed a series of plays, considered to be one of the greatest clutch performances in NBA Finals history., National Basketball Association. Retrieved February 6, 2007. With the Bulls trailing 86–83 with 41.9 seconds remaining, Phil Jackson called a timeout. When play resumed, Jordan received the inbound pass, drove to the basket, and hit a layup over several Jazz defenders. The Jazz brought the ball upcourt and passed the ball to forward Karl Malone, who was set up in the low post and was being guarded by Rodman. Malone jostled with Rodman and caught the pass, but Jordan cut behind him and swatted the ball out of his hands for a steal. Jordan then slowly dribbled upcourt and paused at the top of the key, eyeing his defender, Jazz guard Bryon Russell. With fewer than 10 seconds remaining, Jordan started to dribble right, then crossed over to his left, possibly pushing off Russell,Kerber, Fred. , New York Post, August 17, 2007. Retrieved March 24, 2008.Knott, Tom. , The Washington Times, December 8, 2006. Retrieved November 17, 2008.Deveney, Sean. , sportingnews.com, March 14, 2005. Retrieved April 29, 2007. although the officials did not call a foul. Jordan then made the climactic jump shot of his career. After John Stockton missed a desperation 3-pointer, Jordan and the Bulls claimed their sixth NBA championship, and secured a second three-peat. Once again, Jordan was voted the Finals MVP, having led all scorers by averaging 33.5 points per game, including 45 in the deciding Game 6.Ryan, Jeff. , sportingnews.com. Retrieved June 4, 2011. Jordan’s six Finals MVPs is a record; Shaquille O’Neal, Magic Johnson, and Tim Duncan are tied for second place with three apiece. The 1998 Finals holds the highest television rating of any Finals series in history, and Game 6 holds the highest television rating of any game in NBA history.Cohen, Rachel. , charleston.net, June 5, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2008., Jet Magazine, July 6, 1998, available at findarticles.com. Retrieved February 17, 2009.