Michael Jordan’s shot over Utah Jazz forward Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals to give the Chicago Bulls the go-ahead lead late in the game and eventually their sixth championship is arguably the most iconic moment of the legendary basketball player’s career.
Fernando Medina captured the moment before the shot went in. Jazz fans who had packed the Delta Center appeared to be holding their collective breaths as the shot went up while the small number of Bulls fans waited in agony to see if their favorite player delivered one more classic memory.
Jordan made the shot and did a half-second pose to put the final exclamation point on an incredible career with the Bulls.
The series was the focal point of the final episode of “The Last Dance” on Sunday. The episode showed the reaction from the crowd right before the ball goes through the hoop.
Medina told NBA.com before the episode aired that there are fans in the background of his picture holding up six fingers. The young fans are decked out in Bulls clothes and may have already known that with the ball in Jordan’s hands in the final seconds, Chicago was in safe hands.
“In the picture, see if you can find it, there’s a little boy wearing a black Bulls jersey and he’s got his hands up in the air. He knows that shot is going in,” Medina said.
“There’s no doubt in his mind that the Bulls just won. All the people’s expressions are what makes that picture. That and a little serendipity on the clock, because with 6.6 seconds left on the clock … It’s his sixth championship, in his sixth try, he’s six-foot-six, it was in June. All these sixes, which is crazy about this picture. It really adds to it too.”
Sports Illustrated named the photo the No. 1 sports picture taken of all-time in 2012.
As for the final moment, Jordan dismissed any talk that he pushed off of Russell during the play as he completed his crossover.
“Everybody says I pushed off – bulls—t,” Jordan said. “His energy was going that way; I didn’t have to push him that way.”