The Chicago Bulls 1998 season began just as it had five other times in the 1990 as defending NBA Champions. However, this year would be different as the team was set to endure significant changes at year’s end with the retirement of Michael Jordan and the likely free agent battle for stars Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman. But, the Bulls went about their business as usual and took apart the Eastern Conference, minus the Indiana Pacers (58-24) who kept pace with Chicago who posted a 62-20 record. In the Western Conference there were three teams vying for the top spot that went to the Utah Jazz for the second consecutive year. The Jazz matched Chicago’s 62-20 record, but were fiercely battled by the 61-21 Seattle SuperSonics and Los Angeles Lakers. As was often the case in the 1990s, Chicago had to go through the New Jersey Nets and Charlotte Hornets before knocking off the Pacers in a seven-game Eastern Conference Final. In the West, Utah dispatched the powerful Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs before sweeping the Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and Robert Horry-led Lakers 4-0. This would set-up a rematch as Karl Malone and John Stockton and the Utah Jazz tried to avenge the loss from the 1997 NBA Finals.
Because the Jazz had beaten the Bulls in the two regular season matchups, they won home-court advantage with the first two games of the series being played in Salt Lake City. After beating the Bulls 88-85 in overtime of Game 1, critics and analysts leaned toward picking the Jazz, though they still felt this would be a hard-fought series. Chicago responded in Game 2 with a 93-88 victory to even the series heading back to the Windy City. In Games 3, the Bulls destroyed Utah with a punishing 96-54 drubbing as Jordan scored 24 points matching Karl Malone (22) and John Stockton’s (2) combined total points. Utah’s offense returned in Game 4 scoring 82 points, but they still fell to the Bulls 86-82 as Chicago took a 3-1 Finals lead heading back to Salt Lake. Game 5 was a battle as the two teams traded leads and finished 83-81 in favor of the home team. With the Chicago up 3-2 and one more game at Utah’s Delta Center before returning to their home court, the Bulls faced another challenge as star forward Scottie Pippen reinjured his back on his first dunk of the game. As was often the case, Michael Jordan took over and scored 23 points in the first half. As lead’s continued to change hands as time ran down, with the score at 86-85 (Utah), MJ stole a John Stockton pass with 10 seconds remaining and bolted toward the offensive zone. With 5.2 second remaining on the clock an Bryon Russell defending the future Hall of Famer, Jordan faked right and crossed over to the left to hit a 20-ft. jump shot giving the Bulls a one-point lead (87-86). Now known as "The Shot" proved to be the game and NBA Final clinching shot and one of the most memorable moments in NBA Finals history. Michael Jordan was presented with the NBA Finals MVP Award, his sixth and final, which he was able to rest next to his regular season MVP Award. This was the Chicago Bulls six championship in eight years, and completed their second "3-Peat" of the 1990s (1991-1993, 1996-1998).