MICHAEL JORDAN IS MISSING. With 35.8 seconds left in the 1997 NBA Game 1 Final between Chicago bull and Utah Jazz, the greatest player in NBA history actually just screwed up what should have been a free throw victory. And now, for about 26 seconds, the basketball world is in turmoil: Jordan, for now, Err Jordan, the little goat, and the voters who have narrowly chosen Utah forward Karl Malone more than Michael (986-957) for the MVP league seems correct. Meanwhile, Jazz is poised to steal Game 1 along with the host’s advantage, and Chicago’s fifth title and finally the second three-turf is suddenly in danger.
And then, to the rescue step Scottie Pippen. A future Hall of Famer, at this point Pippen remained an introvert, a person who moved away from the final spotlight like this in the 1990 and 1994 playoffs. But with 9.2 seconds left and Malone in the foul line with a chance to close the victory, Pippen bring up and give the biggest trash talk line in the history of sport.
This is a line that is loaded with interesting cultural, statistical and historical subtexts. A line so clever that it saves one inheritance, rewrites another and destroys the third. And a line that would eventually set the tables for the Chicago Bulls 1997-98 and “The Last Dance,” a documentary 23 years later will keep all of us sane during a pandemic without sports.
Six magic words, so influential and controversial, they inspire their own oral history.
“Certainly Karl Malone is here. It’s MVP time,” NBC analyst Bill Walton exclaimed after Jordan’s absence, when Jazz fouled half the pitch with a score of 82. But with hours of shooting at: 02 and the Bulls defense remained strong, John Stockton Troop 3 hit the back of the rim so hard it came out past the left wing. (Bulls keeper Steve Kerr says loose rims from excessive dunks from Chicago’s mascot, Benny the Bull.) When Malone rushes laterally to offset the rebound, a trailing Dennis Rodman climbed on his back and was called for loose ball violations.
During the first 47 minutes and 50.8 seconds of this Final, Malone really lost tears: 23 points, 15 rebounds, 3-of-4 from the line. And with 9.2 seconds left, the newly crowned NBA MVP walked to the line with the opportunity to rewrite sports history.
Brad Rock, columnist for Deseret News, 1994-2019: I used to say that 19,911 people couldn’t make more noise than Jazz fans, and that also happened in Chicago. When Karl walked to the line, it was deafening in the stadium. My ears have been ringing for days.
Dave Allred, Utah Jazz vice president for public relations and communication, 1981-2003: We enter this series with the hope, “I hope we can be competitive. I hope we can take it to seven matches.” And then you get there and you get in that environment and the intensity is really big and you really have a chance to win the game. I mean, there is real hope. … We sat there thinking, “Okay, when we win, NBC will want this person right after the game and then we have to get a Coach [Jerry] Sloan and ran back to the dressing room. “We are already in post-win work mode.
Jason Caffey, Bulls forward: When Karl stepped into that line, it was like Tupac’s song “All Eyez on Me”: You made the whole world look at you there, right then and there. You are on an island alone.
Stone: It was a game that Karl had to take. One free throw and maybe NBA history looks very different.
With Bulls fans behind the basket waving white balloons, Malone began his trademark free-throwing ritual. This is a complicated sequence that starts with a series of dribbles, spinning a ball in the air in front of his face, half squatting and a secret whispering, middle spell – “This is for Kay and her baby.” After struggling hard from the free throw line early in his NBA career, Malone developed the ritual with the help of a psychological consultant.
Playing in the style of a Jazz physical half-pitch from endless interior playback and endless pick-and-roll, Malone relies heavily on this free throw technique. After the match, the upper body is often crossed with deep scratches. (However, he sentenced him as much as he sentenced him, sentenced him David Robinson and split the brow of Isiah Thomas.) Malone led the NBA in free throws eight times, and in 1996-97 he led the NBA in free throws (521) and free throw trials (690).
But his free throw shot isn’t always strong.
Frank Layden, Jazz coach, GM and president, 1979-99: Rookie Karl’s year, he was so bad that they deliberately defiled him. That’s like Hack-a-Shaq. I said, “Listen, you can be another palooka in this league. You are a big and tough guy, and you can play with everyone and you will play for a long time and have a chance to be very good. But if you want to be great, you have to work on your photo shoot. “And he became an excellent foul shooter through hard work.
Sam Smith, Chicago Tribune, author of “The Jordan Rules” bestseller: He is more like Shaq in that sense: In practice he produces 80%, and then he comes out and the game stops and everyone stares at him and he is tensed. Now, he has to be a much better free throw shooter by working on it, but if there is an opportunity to thrill someone, here it is.
Karen McDermott, study author “Effects of Verbal Humiliation on Motivation and Performance in Competitive Settings”: The best lines of trash talk are very brutal, very brash or very smart. You have this ideal self-image, and when it is damaged by junk talk, you begin to question who you believe to be, what your identity is, and what triggers a very strong reaction of anger and shame. … If you are vulnerable to such advice, now it’s in your mind. It was like, “Okay, now the pressure is really burning.”
Greg Ostertag, Jazz Center: You know what no one ever mentioned? Karl still has an old court that is on fire [shooting] the hand he got in the final of the conference against Houston, and every time he went to the line in Chicago, he would see it.
Mike Shimensky, Jazz coach, in 1997: It feels fine until he goes to drink [in the third quarter of Game 1]. He made it worse.
Smith: No one in Jerry Sloan’s team would hear that, about some injuries as a reason. The last person to make an excuse about injuries is Jerry and Karl.
Layden: We played an exhibition game in Mexico once and Karl pushed his big finger up to his wrist. I mean, it’s a mess. They took him to the locker room, and we all stood around talking to the doctor about flying him back tonight, how this might need surgery, and when we talked, we heard Karl go “AHHHHH,” and he pulled the finger back into place and gave our coach knows, “Stick it.” This is an exhibition game, remember.
Caffey: Karl is another strong level. We were in Miami once for a match, and I was at Gold’s Gym and they said, “Oh, you just missed Jazz.” Of course I asked, “What is meant by Karl’s bench?” And they were like he had four plates on either side [405 pounds] and he throws it easily.
Malone in 1997: When I dress I am ready to play and I have no reason at all. You play through many things. Apart from that, this is the NBA Final – what should I do?
Malone’s hand was just one of several plotlines leading to the 1997 NBA Final that collided at that time inside the United Center. Standing on the side, just above Malone’s right shoulder, is Jordan. Along with the transcendent MJ, most of the Bulls are household names. Sometimes for the wrong reasons. Until now, Pippen, not Malone, was famous for failing to deliver in two important situations at the end of the game during the playoffs. In 1990, Pippen went 1-for-10 in Game 7’s loss to the Pistons while struggling with migraines, and in 1994 he earned the nickname “Sitting Bull” when he refused to enter the game for the last 1.8 seconds of the match against the Knicks just because the last game has been prepared Toni Kukoc and not him.
Meanwhile in 1997, playing in his first Final, Utah was seen as a small market team that always received calls. Jazz led the NBA that season in both free throws made (1,858) and free throws allowed (1,796). Jazz is a mother-and-pop operation so the person who escorted Jordan to his postgame media session was an 11-year-old girl from the team’s PR director. Malone matches. Growing up in rural Louisiana, he loved hunting, fishing, driving trucks, and, according to Rock, complained about how high his taxes were under President Bill Clinton. Malone might have worked hard to promote blue-collar images, but typecasting and stereotyping quickly went out of control. Jim Rome went further by calling Malone “the only African-American redneck in the world.” And the Bulls bring badness to a higher level. Coach Phil Jackson called Stockton and Malone dirty players and categorized Mormonism as “a cult.” Forwards Bison Dele said Salt Lake City smelled like salt water shrimp. Dennis Rodman explains his poor play by saying, “It’s hard to synchronize because all the Mormons are here.”
Contrast extends to the court and even to the team hotel.
Ostertag: People hate playing against us because we will hit you. We will extinguish you, you will be filtered. Many awards for that apply to Jerry Sloan. That’s the way he plays, and that’s the way he trains. Jerry was the type of player who would go in there, break his nose, come out, sweep his blood and go right back in, and that’s how he built his team too.
Stone: Jerry Sloan’s team doesn’t get along much. But I think the opponent doesn’t like Malone because of his elbow, not because he’s a villager.
Smith: Not that Karl is a target of any kind. Scottie is rural Arkansas; they are both Southern kids with the same background, a small college, hunting and fishing. And maybe that’s why he did it. If anything, he feels more comfortable and has more kinship with Malone than with other players. Maybe Scottie feels she can have fun with Karl that she might not be able to do with others.
More about “The Last Dance”
Stone: Jazz has John Stockton, who doesn’t say a word, and Mailman is not really a trash talker, and in the Final they collide with a team that has sharpened a knife talking rubbish while playing Detroit Pistons for years. Phil Jackson is quite good at psychological things, and even if he isn’t, he believes he’s right. It was all a bit of a great game on the Bulls.
Caffey: Michael talked endlessly about rubbish. I mean, he will talk — about everything; he will talk about your coffee.
Antoine Carr, Jazz Attacker: The hardest part about playing Bulls is always trying to find ways to play them and deal with referees at the same time. Because you know if you touch Jordan, you get a violation.
Ostertag: I see rubbish talks affecting Karl instead, usually. Mikki Moore first [with Detroit] in the late 90s. We’ve played them once, and he has come down and scored, like, two streaks in a row on Karl, and he ran back to the court shouting, “Give me a ball! This bastard — we can’t hold me!” And Grant Hill, who was with the Pistons at the time, ran to him in the middle of the game and said, “Close. The. F — Up. You don’t say s — to people like that.” But it’s too late. I think Karl was like in his mid-30s in that game, maybe even 40 points. It still makes me laugh at the thought of Grant Hill running to Moore away, “Duuuuude, no-no-no-no, you idiot, you don’t poke a bear.”
Caffey: I really respect Mailman. There was only one crocodile in the pool that was harder than him, and that Michael Jordan. … We get all our arrogance from Michael. Scottie is relaxed and straightforward. He took me under his wing. Ron Harper? I hate that man, he is very insecure. Dennis never said two words. Steve Kerr and Jud Buechler and me, Phil Jackson told us that it was our responsibility to go with Dennis and watch him when he went out drinking for a week and made sure he wasn’t too much trouble.
Carr: One thing I like about playing different Bulls is that the city of Chicago is always trying to do something too. You will be in your hotel room the night before the Final match in Chicago and suddenly a Playboy model appears at your door with a cake. That happened to me more than once. … They appear in a trench coat, and when they can present your cake to you, the coat comes off and it’s “Welcome to Chicago!” But if you are a young man and what you can think of the night before the Final is a beautiful girl now, that will get you far. It did not work on me. But it’s a delicious cake.
Smith: Scottie had so much misery in the playoffs. It was a rare opportunity for everyone to write about Scottie and quote Scottie with something funny and taller and something other than, “I suffer from migraines” or 1.8 seconds from “I didn’t play because Toni Kukoc got a chance” or how Scottie not a finisher and he never did the last shot. Nationally, these things always roam around Scottie. So for him to deliver the final blow to set Michael, this is almost a perfect example of how they became the main tag team, the way they fit together: Scottie with a great one-liner and Michael with the final shot.
Smith: That is the poetic end.
Before taking place on the right block for Malone’s first free throw, Pippen glided past him on the front lines, pausing long enough to deliver the six greatest words in the history of junk talks.
Pippen: I just whispered in his ear, “The Mailman doesn’t meet on Sundays.”
McDermott: Whenever a row of rubbish talks makes us face the reality of who we are and our limited abilities, which tends to provoke anger and shame. To make a free throw requires control and concentration, not brute strength. Anger and shame make it difficult to control the fine motor functions you need to do something like free throws.
Pippen: It came out of my head, freestyle.
McDermott: That makes it more impressive. There was no way he knew to hold all the games and wait until 10 seconds left and Malone in the free throw line. He wants to get it before that. So it gives credence to the idea that it really popped into his head at that moment.
Smith: It was one of those rubbish dialogues that always existed, and the biggest irony was from men who didn’t talk nonsense.
Pippen: Actually it is not a personal matter. Karl is my friend. He even came to pick me up from the airport sometimes when we were in Utah. My relationship with him is much more than just basketball. It’s just a joke because my brother is a postman.
McDermott: When you get used to someone who talks rubbish all the time, you can learn to filter it. But if it comes from an unexpected source, it attacks you more. So if he expects it from Jordan or Rodman and it’s not where it came from, and it hits you, the lack of hope makes it even more impactful.
Mark Giangreco, anchor of the WLS-TV Chicago sports: People forget how funny and smart, smart, and cool Scottie is, but when you are always like Batman, it will disappear in the jet stream behind Michael Jordan. He always has it in him. Remember when Scottie dipped in Ewing and then just stood on it and then she got involved with Spike Lee? People always think Reggie Miller talking rubbish with Spike Lee. But believe me, no one ever gave it to Spike Lee like Scottie did.
Pippen: Spike was not my hero at that time. When he came to my house and talked about trash, I just told him: “Sit down.”
McDermott: In this particular case, perhaps unintentionally, Scottie Pippen really made use of the idea of the ideal ego and image that Karl Malone had worked so hard to establish himself – the postman, the person who always gave – and he ruined it.
Smith: You say that sentence to Michael Jordan, it will have no effect. That won’t work with John Stockton. He will forget.
Ostertag: It’s hard to say whether it affected him. You get to the line with the game on the line, no one knows. He just missed a few free throws. Yeah know, Steph Curry missed the free throw. It happened.
Caffey: Every small whispered word, negative or positive, adds tension. I don’t care if you are a Zen teacher, whatever you hear at that time will still come through your brain somehow, somehow.
Malone’s routine sounds without a hitch. Dribble. Rotating. Catch. Rotating. Catch. To soar. “This is for Kay and the baby.” So far in the 1997 playoffs, Malone has made 78% of his free throws. And for his career, he turned out to be a 77% free throw shooter on Sundays – the highest every day of the week. But after digesting the Pippen line, all the kinetic smoothness seemed to flow from Malone’s motion. With his elbows locked, he jerked the ball from his fingertips and the sound of his horn came out of the right side behind the rim, bouncing in the middle of the left midline.
Pippen immediately stepped in front of Malone with paint, apparently to remind him of what had just happened. The postman scoffed again, “Yes, yes,” before walking away, hands on hips, heading halfway to calm down.
McDermott: As soon as Malone missed the first, it was almost inevitable that he would miss the second. Because now the ideas planted by Pippen really apply.
Smith: If there are such things ranked, and I have no doubt that someone might have made a list like that – then this line must definitely be there. The perfect thing about it is his intelligence: It’s Sunday, it’s the postman. That’s right It’s like a big book for news: the perfect tone at the right time, which you don’t often hit.
Pippen: It was a big match. We need that game. [I didn’t know I had gotten to him] until after he broke it.
Dribble. Rotating. Catch. Rotating. Catch. To soar. Whisper. After the second shot in the air, Malone was very sure it would come in. He began to retreat to set the defense. The ball breaks through the front of the rim, and goes halfway to the cylinder before bouncing out and into the hands of Jordan, who somehow managed to beat 6-9 Carr for a rebound. Malone could not believe it. He turned, closed his eyes and dropped his chin to his chest. During the time after the next Bulls, Malone was seen cursing himself.
The embarrassment and anger that McDermott said seemed like he had experienced good results: In the past 40 years, Malone was one of only three players who failed to take a few free throws with the chance to take the lead at the last minute of the Final match.
Malone in 1997: I’m from Summerfield, Louisiana, and we have no reason. I have no excuse, and I will not use. I don’t take free throws. They feel good. I just didn’t make it. It was a big free throw, but it shouldn’t have been like that.
Caffey: Those two shots might determine the whole series for Utah, so Karl would never be able to live like that. He will have it on his head for the rest of his life.
Allred: Maybe this is my fault. Just as Karl was about to shoot, I turned to Kim Turner, one of our other homeworkers, and I said, “We’re going to win this game!” You go straight from total euphoria to “Oh my God, no,” and when it doesn’t get worse, you see Jordan with the ball.
Pippen puts the ball up the bow to Kukoc and sets the screen for Jordan coming from the left block. On top of the key with 1.7 seconds left, belongs to Utah Bryon Russell slap the ball with his right hand, make it unbalanced, now fully in the hands of Jordan. Jordan slides left onto the Bulls logo and rises from 21 feet. The shot was so pure that it barely shivered. Jordan assumed the winner’s classic game pose – the upper lip tucked, the air punching the right hand – when Pippen, who made it all possible, arrived and wrapped it in both arms.
Jordan in 1997: Throughout the stretch, it’s nip and tuck, and it can go either way. You know, I missed the free throw. Karl got down and missed two free throws. So, I mean, MVP doesn’t do too much stretching until I can knock a shot. It will go back and forth, and whoever does the best game in the stretch will win the game.
Ostertag: Apparently it was in Karl’s head. Karl would say it was not, that he missed a shot, and that might be true. It’s part of being one of the greatest ever. Kobe, Shaq, LeBron, Jordan – in our sport you cannot play in the past. Pippen said what he said. You missed the free throw. GOOD. That free throw is not the reason we lost the match. You have to go back, play defense and try to stop them from scoring on the next possession. We did not do it.
Giangreco: Malone was annoyed. Someone repeated the sentence to him after the match and asked him, and he was really short with them. The level of frustration is so high.
Smith: He is defensive and goes down and tries to brush it off, but you can tell he is also shy.
Malone in 1997: That does not bother me. Scottie and I are competitors, and I consider him a friend. I can say that because I don’t have many friends in the league.
Pippen: I hate that quote ever came out because no one really got it. That’s more of a joke between us.
Giangreco: We could not hear what he said on the field during the match. At a press conference, someone asked, “What did you say there?” And this smirk crossed his face. He put it in his room and you can tell he can’t wait to repeat it. He is very excited. So with a large, deep, and very large baritone he said, “I just said, ‘The Mailman doesn’t deliver on Sundays,'” and he started laughing to himself, and the whole room just broke. Everyone is crazy. And Scottie enjoyed every second of it.
Smith: Everyone in the press room fought over the line. I will use it in my story. No, I use it in my column. Mainly because it’s Pippen. Scottie is not the type of man who is lighthearted He is not someone who is quick with jokes, really ever. … This is something Jordan will say. That would be Jordan’s ideal sewerage channel, so much so that we always wondered if Jordan had given him the bait. Nobody ever did it.
Stone: I wrote something along the lines of, “Of course it’s Jordan, how else do you expect it to be played?” It annoys Malone. I do not know if he is afraid. Head game is hard for him. This is an interesting case study. That affected him at the time and he missed two free throws and the game really set the tone for the whole series.
Smith: Jordan laughed at that sentence afterward, I’m pretty sure. He was asked about it, and he praised Scottie. I think Jordan admitted that, yes, Scottie had saved him, that Scottie had also saved him with the Mailman line. And the Bulls have never been left in a series for their second three peat.
Caffey: That sentence became like a joke in the dressing room. Everyone goes around to say it. That is team talk. Like when a rapper comes out with a good sentence and everyone repeats that sentence. That’s how we, as a team, sang that song loudly, The Mailman Don’t Deliver on Sunday.
Carr: I don’t think it has anything to do with Pippen. I just think the Bulls are lucky. They got the right call at the right time or it would become a Jazz Jazz championship. One or two calls in this regard, it changed the whole skin and then the documentary about the first Jazz championship. So we continue with the story of the great Michael Jordan.
Allred: I am still emotional about how close we are to winning that game and stealing games that no one would expect us to win. But we feel that over and over again in the two Final matches the next two years. That kind of sets the standard for what the two finals next year will be like.
McDermott: If you see it only once, it’s definitely there. Because it’s very smart and very important in terms of results.
Pippen: To this day, I think that is the best line in basketball.
Three days later, the shaken Malone shot 6-from-20 and finished with 20 points in a 97-85 defeat in Game 2. After that, Jazz coach Sloan said, “I thought we were intimidated from the start of the game.”
But after returning to Salt Lake City, Malone responded, scoring 37 in Game 3 victory. When asked why Rodman fought to guard Mailman, Jordan replied, “He will fight one of the 50 greatest players in the game – Karl Malone is not lunch meat. ” In Game 4, on Sunday, June 8, Malone found himself in a familiar position: on the free throw line with Utah with 1 and 18 seconds to play. This time, when Pippen tried to queue again, Malone and Jazz were ready. Utah guard Jeff Hornacek blocked Pippen’s path to Malone, which sank both free throws. (With lines that are no longer effective, in the 1998 Final, Harper was forced to shout “Rogaine!” At Malone when he fired a free throw, a reference to a hair growth ad featuring a Jazz attacker.)
Malone in 1997: I know what he is doing, trying to talk to me. He still talked to me the whole time I was shooting.
Hornacek in 1997: Karl said Scottie had arrested him earlier and said something about the postman who didn’t deliver on Sunday. And Karl said something like, “Yes, but Federal Express will do it.” Scottie inched toward Karl, and I thought he would say a few more things, and I just wanted to get in between them and not let him talk there again.
Malone in 1997: In life, sometimes you never get a second chance. As a player, sometimes you expect to get another chance. And I do it.
Pippen in 1997: I guess he gives on Sunday here.
Mailman’s delivery remained uncertain, at best, in the Final. Jazz lost Game 5 and 6 and the Bulls are now two-thirds of the way to their second three peat. All told, Utah dropped three matches in the 1997 Final with eight points combined, and in that tight match, after Pippen dropped his iconic line, Malone shot 12-from-26 via free throws. His appearance in the Final made everyone, including Malone himself, question whether the MVP voters had made a mistake.
Malone in 1997: [The greatest player in the game] is Michael Jordan, as everyone thinks. Going down the stretch, Michael wants the ball in a time of crisis, understand, shoot. It’s hard to argue about that.
Smith: This ended up being a series with Jordan’s “flu game”, with the sick Jordan falling into Pippen’s arms. Dan begitu itu terjadi, itu menaungi segalanya. Pada saat itu, tidak ada yang bahkan ingat apa yang terjadi di Game 1 atau apa yang dikatakan Pippen kepada Malone. Permainan flu itu mendefinisikan seri, dan semua hal yang terjadi terhanyut dalam banjir itu.
Malone akan mengakhiri karir 19 tahunnya dengan poin terbanyak (36.928, kedua sepanjang masa), rebound terbanyak (14.968, kemudian ketujuh sepanjang masa) dan penampilan playoff terbanyak (19) dalam sejarah NBA di antara para pemain untuk tidak pernah memenangkan kejuaraan. Dia mencapai Final untuk ketiga dan terakhir kalinya dengan Lakers 2003-04.
Batu: Pada tahun 1996, Jazz kehilangan Game 7 di Seattle dan melewatkan kesempatan pertama mereka untuk sampai ke Final. Setelah itu ada dua bus di landasan di bandara. Saya melihat bus tim dan para pemain membagikan makan siang karung, dan saya melihat Karl dan dia santai dan tertawa. Tidak ada yang lebih dari seorang prajurit selama pertandingan, tetapi ketika sudah selesai, Malone bisa melanjutkan. Saya tidak berpikir dia menganggapnya enteng; hanya saja, begitu tekanannya padam dan pertandingan selesai, Karl siap pergi berburu. Dia tampak baik-baik saja. Kemudian pintu bus tim terbuka dan Stockton turun dan dia mendapat tatapan sembilan mil ini, menatap melintasi aspal dan menuju Pacific Northwest. Dia berdiri di sana, dan dia tidak bisa hidup dengan kehilangan itu. Itu memakannya hidup-hidup. Tiga puluh detik kemudian, pintu bus terbuka lagi dan inilah Jerry. Dan saya masih memiliki gambaran mental di kepala saya tentang dua orang yang berdiri di sana, tangan di saku, menatap ke kejauhan, dan kembali ke dalam bus adalah Mailman dan dia pindah.
Malone pada 2004: [In Utah] Saya mulai berkata, “Oh, saya harus mengambilnya,” bukan hanya bermain santai. Itu tidak bisa dipercaya, bukan hanya karena saya dibayar paling banyak uang di negara bagian saat itu tetapi dengan harapan itu datang, dan saya mencoba mendekatinya dengan cara yang sama dengan Jazz. Saya tidak pernah benar-benar menikmatinya.
Batu: Terakhir saya dengar, baik dia dan Stockton masih menggunakan telepon flip. Bicara tentang sekolah tua. Beberapa tahun yang lalu, saya mencoba mengirim sms kepadanya karena dia tidak pernah menjawab teleponnya. Jadi saya mengirim SMS beberapa kali dan akhirnya sebuah teks muncul kembali: “Apakah ini Brad?” Saya berkata, “Ya, saya ingin berbicara dengan Anda tentang ini dan itu.” Dan setelah beberapa menit dia mengirim sms kembali: “DAPATKAN NYATA.” Dan saya belum mendengar kabar darinya sejak itu. Jadi saya kira dia tidak akan menonton film dokumenter sama sekali.
Layden: We never talked about the Finals. He wasn’t an “Alibi Ike.” He never made excuses. If you lost, you lost. That’s all. Walk out and get after it tomorrow.
Rock: Jordan and the Bulls overshadowed everything. But over time, as you look back at it, a lot of people go, “Hey, wait a second, the Jazz were one free throw by the MVP from this whole thing being a completely different story.” Things were close enough in that series to still think even to this day: What if Malone makes those free throws? What if the Jazz win Game 1 in Chicago? A couple things change, starting with those free throws, and history is completely different.
Pippen: To this day, Karl is one of my closest friends. He has never said anything to me about the line.