Michael Jordan’s last game in Phoenix against the Suns with the Bulls

Phoenix Suns Michael Jordan Jason Kidd (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Phoenix Suns Michael Jordan Jason Kidd (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Michael Jordan took the last shot with five seconds remaining and the Chicago Bulls down two at the Phoenix Suns. What happened next was unexpected.

It was 21 years ago this week (November 20, 1997) that Michael Jordan played in his final game in Phoenix against the Suns as a member of the Chicago Bulls.

The game, and the lead up to his final shot, was as close and exciting as one would hope for the swan song of a great’s finale.

Chicago was short Scottie Pippen due to injury, but were still stacked enough with Jordan, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, Ron Harper, Luc Longley, and of course, Phil Jackson, to compete  with the Suns who were still learning how to play with newly acquired Antonio McDyess.

Phoenix of course had Jason Kidd, Kevin Johnson (with rookie Steve Nash playing 10 minutes), and Rex Chapman, the heart of the “small ball” movement, head coach Danny Ainge‘s claim to head coaching fame.

As mentioned that evening they ran with McDyess as well as John “Hot Rod” Williams starting, with a limping Cliff Robinson and forward Mark Bryant coming off the bench.

The Chicago Bulls were winless on the road this early in the season, but with Jordan on a roster, the only assurance that Phoenix had was that they were going to get his all, and that even without Pippen, the Suns were going to get an Eastern Conference-style throw down.

30 points in the second quarter helped to give Phoenix a fairly comfortable 52-45 lead heading into half. That lead became all that more important because the Suns only managed 13 points in the third quarter and saw their seven-point lead disappear and reverse itself to become a one-point defect.

Like the second quarter, Phoenix saw their offense come back to life in the fourth quarter and with 2:19 remaining once again held a seven-point lead.

That was, until Danny Manning fell off of his defensive assignment of Toni Kukoc, who drained two consecutive 3-pointers amidst a suddenly silent Suns offense.

With the seconds draining away and the Bulls back in possession of the ball, Dennis Rodman blew a wide open layup underneath the basket, the rebound which fell into Phoenix hands. Rex Chapman was then fouled, but missed one of his two shots giving Phoenix only a slight two-point lead, and Chicago with the opportunity to tie the game following a timeout – guaranteeing the ball would be in you-know-who’s hands.

Not wiling to give up a 3-pointer to win the game, Jason Kidd was handed the one-on-one defensive assignment of Jordan coming out of the timeout, and held him as close as he could. IN isolation, Jordan lofted a difficult shot with five-seconds remaining, the very shot he had hit to stab the opposition in the back a million times before.

This time, however, his last ever shot in Phoenix as a Chicago Bull, caromed off the back of the rim and into the waiting hands of Danny Manning.

Immediately fouled, Manning hit his two free throws and the Suns pulled out the victory 89-85, keeping the Bulls winless on the road that season and giving Phoenix a 7-2 start to the year.

Next. Kemba Walker is playing himself off of the Phoenix Suns' future roster. dark

However many times in his career did Michael Jordan take – and make – the game winning shot, his last opportunity to do so in Phoenix as a member of the Chicago Bulls fell short.

Unfortunately for Suns fans, while he missed that opportunity, he actually did convert a game-winner in final game ever in Phoenix, although that time, as a member of the Washington Wizards.