Late Steal put Bulls’ Fifth Title on Ice
As Chicago prepared to retire Scottie Pippen’s number 33, Bulls.com took a look at the legendary player’s greatest moments.
Bulls 90, Utah Jazz 86
June 13, 1997 | NBA Finals, Game Six
United Center | Box Score
Scottie Pippen intercepted an inbounds pass in the closing moments of Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals that led to a basket which sealed the Bulls’ fifth World Championship.
Late in the game, the Jazz doubled teamed Michael Jordan only to have Steve Kerr hit a go-ahead basket with five seconds left that gave the Bulls an 88-86 advantage.
Utah had a chance to send the series to a seventh game with five seconds left on the clock, but Bryon Russell’s inbounds pass was by tipped Pippen, who knocked it ahead to Toni Kukoc for a title-clinching slam.
“There were a lot of options,” Jazz point guard John Stockton said of the play. “I think generally I was supposed to get the ball and it didn’t have time to develop where I could get open. Bryon threw it across court with Shandon [Anderson] moving away and that left room for Scottie to slide in there and steal it.”
The sequence set off by Pippen secured a hard-fought win, 90-86, and 24,544 fans at the United Center began celebrating the dynasty’s fifth NBA title.
“Scottie Pippen and I, we’re a tandem,” Jordan said after being named the series most valuable player. “It’s hard to split us up. He means a lot to me when I go out to play on the basketball court. He relieves a lot of the pressure that I have to deal with. I try to do the same for him. It’s hard to take this MVP by myself.”
Utah’s Stockton cited Pippen’s defense as a major factor in the series: “Scottie was in the way a lot for all of us. He plays center field, and he does it well.”
On a night in which he seemed to do all of the dirty work, Pippen also was the only Bull besides Jordan to crack double digits, finishing with 23 points. He also recorded nine rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals in 43 minutes.
“A lot of people watch scorers, and Michael is the greatest scorer ever, but Scottie’s defense was a one-man wrecking crew tonight,” remarked Bulls coach Phil Jackson. “People who see the game as a whole see what he does on the basketball court.”
Pippen wrapped up his fifth trip to the Finals with averages of 20.0 points, a team-high 8.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.67 steals per game.
He scored 27 points in Game 1 and again in Game 3, when he matched an NBA record with seven three-pointers.
“When I retired [in the summer of 1993], he carried this team and he did not get the recognition that he deserved,” Jordan proclaimed. “Now that I’m back, he shouldn’t get any less [respect].”
Click to read the next story on Pippen’s Greatest Moments: Pippen garnered MVP honors at 1994 All-Star Game.
Read Scottie Pippen’s Top 10 Greatest Moments here.