Spoiler alert: In the 1997 NBA Finals, Game 5, the Chicago Bulls beat the Utah Jazz in one of the greatest basketball games ever played. But it didn’t happen the way you might expect.
Michael Jordan was probably the most well-known player on the Chicago Bulls in 1997. Jordan’s performance in Game 5 was exquisite. But it wasn’t just the old guard of the Bulls who impressed on the court that day.
In Game 5, the Jazz had quickly learned that they couldn’t leave Jordan unattended. They couldn’t even leave him with a single man, so they came up with a strategy to double team him.
Anticipating being weighed down by the extra guard, Jordan saw an opportunity to work with teammate Steve Kerr. In fact, during the short timeout before the final play, Jordan predicted the upcoming play perfectly and asked Kerr to be ready.
This shows what an amazing team player Jordan is.
Rather than fight his way through the double guard in a show of force, Jordan knew that his team needed a much less individualistic approach in order to win. So his inclusion of lesser-known Kerr in the play was not only strategic but an ode to his sportsmanship.
Kerr was grateful for the opportunity and saw it for the gift that it was.
“He’s so good that he draws so much attention,” Kerr noted. “And his excellence gave me the chance to hit the game-winning shot in the NBA Finals. What a thrill. I owe him everything.”