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“17 seconds from Game 7 or from Championship number six. Jordan…open…Chicago with the lead! That may have been the last shot Michael Jordan will ever take in the NBA.”

photo by John Biever

Welcome to another episode of Nice Kicks’ Throwback Thursday. Today marks a very special moment in Michael Jordan’s career and in NBA Finals history as well. 20 years ago, Jordan made what is now referred to as the “Last Shot” in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals at the Delta Center in Salt Lake against the Jazz, a shot which clinched the series and his 6th NBA Championship, a moment forever frozen in time while wearing the Air Jordan 14 in the iconic black/red Bulls colorway.

Jordan possessed unmatched leadership, athleticism, skill, style, and elegance, coupled with an incredibly high basketball IQ. His kicks seemingly reflected his personality and trademark flare, traits that were fully put on display throughout the 1998 NBA Finals, Jordan’s last appearance in the championship round, a rematch with the back-to-back Western Conference champion Utah Jazz.

After losing Game 1 in overtime in Utah, Jordan and the Bulls rebounded beautifully to take Game 2 on the road to tie the series. After impressive wins at home including a staggering 96-54 win in Game 3 followed by a narrow margin win in Game 4, the Bulls were in the drivers’ seat holding a 3-1 series lead. However, a strong performance by Utah in Game 5 pushed the series back to Utah for a decisive Game 6.

The final game of the series was dramatic throughout, a game decided by a single point in one of the most watched NBA Finals games and series of all-time. In the series’ finale, Jordan once again showed Utah Jazz fans and the world why he was – and continues to be – the game’s greatest player and ambassador. Throughout the game, Jordan was the maestro on the hardwood, the conductor of the orchestra, posting an impressive 45 points.

A player who thrived under pressure and enjoyed playing in the moment, Jordan saved his best for last. In the closing minute of Game 6, Stockton hit a 3-pointer which gave the Jazz a three-point lead. On the next possession, Jordan took the ball hard to the rim in part due to the Jazz’ porous defense, scoring within a matter of seconds to cut the deficit to a single point.

What unfolded in the game’s final two possessions was a marvelous, stunning sequence as if it were scripted directly from a Steven Spielberg or James Cameron movie. Stockton, like he had done so many times before throughout his career, fed the ball down low to Karl Malone at the post. Rather than follow Hornacek as he cleared out to the perimeter, Jordan fooled the Jazz offense and stayed at home in the paint, coming up from behind, slapping and then stealing the ball from the oblivious Malone. Jordan then took over and reminded everyone one final time of why he is the greatest player of all-time. With the clock winding down and with Bryon Russell closely guarding him, Jordan put the move on – a gorgeous, hard drive right, then stopping, losing his defender, and pulling up for the J.

Nothing but net.

Hold the pose.

6th NBA Championship and second three-peat unlocked.

This would forever be known as Jordan’s “last shot” as it was considered at the time to be his farewell game before retiring from the game of basketball. A poetic, iconic pose and moment which remains arguably as the greatest NBA Finals moment in history. It is also interesting to note that Jordan wore three different Air Jordan models throughout the Finals series: Air Jordan 13 mid (black/red & black/white-true red); Air Jordan 13 Low PE (black with red outsole), and lastly, the Air Jordan 14, which he debuted in Game 3 in Chicago.

Voted the Best Sneaker worn in the 1998 NBA Finals by Complex and one of the 20 Greatest Basketball Sneakers of the past 20 years by Slam Magazine, the Jordan 14 remains a true work of art. Designed by Tinker Hatfield, the Jordan 14 is widely considered as the most comfortable Air Jordan sneaker ever produced providing the athlete with a superb, comfortable, smooth feel and ride during play. The silhouette pays tribute to Jordan’s love of the 550 Maranello sports car and features Zoom Air cushioning, a buttery leather and suede upper, his # 23 on the back, a foot stability plate, and mesh vents on the medial aspect for ventilation.

Multiple original colorways in both mid and low versions were produced. Since then, a plethora of retros followed over the years including a limited-edition two-pair Defining Moments Package. The newest Air Jordan 14 “Last Shot” Retro is set to release on the 20th anniversary of Jordan’s historic and monumental last shot; however, nothing compares to the original in terms of quality, craftsmanship, and materials.

Be Like Mike, lace up your pair of Air Jordan 14s in the black/red colorway, be the hero and run on fumes. Jordan’s last shot, one more time.

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