Top NBA Finals Moments Index
The Game: 1997 Finals, Game 5
The Series Situation:
Michael Jordan delivered one of his most iconic games ever in The 1997 Finals.
Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz tied, 2-2
So sick and suffering from flu-like symptoms that at times he staggered, a dehydrated and exhausted Michael Jordan wills himself to 38 points against the Utah Jazz in a pivotal Game 5, adding to the Bulls star's legend as a clutch performer and relentless competitor.
By 1997, there weren't many ways for Jordan to be considered an underdog. But playing through illness -- food poisoning or a sudden and severe virus had seized him between Games 4 and 5 in Salt Lake City -- did add a new chapter to his legend. Lacking energy, the Bulls' future Hall of Famer looked lost in the first quarter, then scored 17 points in the second. He struggled in the third, then flickered on in the fourth to score seven points in a 10-0 run that erased Utah's 77-69 lead. His 3-pointer in the final half minute gave Chicago a lead it did not lose, setting up the famous video clip of teammate Scottie Pippen helping his rag-doll pal off the floor. "Probably the most difficult thing I've ever done," Jordan said afterward. "I almost played myself into passing out just to win a basketball game." Not just any game, though -- a Finals game. Said Bulls coach Phil Jackson: "This was a heroic effort, one to add to the collection of efforts that make up his legend."
-- Steve Aschburner
Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.
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