25 Years Ago: John Stockton Sends Utah Jazz To NBA Finals

May 29, 2022, 11:00 AM
John Stockton #12 of the Utah Jazz dribbles in Game five of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the Sacramento Kings during the 2003 NBA Playoffs at Arco Arena on April 30, 2003 in Sacramento, California. The Kings won 111-91. (Photo by: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
(Photo by: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY – Some of the sweetest words in Jazz history were spoken by Greg Gumbel in Houston, Texas on this day 25 years ago, “John Stockton sends the Utah Jazz to the NBA Finals.”

On May 29, 1997, the Rockets hosted the Jazz for Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Utah entered the matchup with a 3-2 series lead.

With less than three seconds remaining on the game clock and the game tied at 100, Karl Malone set a screen near the top of the three-point arc to create an open space for Stockton. Bryon Russell inbounded the ball to an open Stockton, who took one dribble towards the hoop and rose up for a shot over Rockets forward Charles Barkley.

Stockton’s shot sailed through the cylinder as time expired to give Utah a 103-100 victory and a 4-2 series win.

After the shot, Stockton’s teammates and coaches ran to mid-court to celebrate the franchise’s first trip to the NBA Finals.

Stockton finished the contest with 25 points and 13 assists. Malone posted 24 points and 11 rebounds. Jeff Hornacek chipped in 18 points, while Greg Ostertag added 16 points and 14 rebounds. Russell recorded 15 points.

The Jazz went on to face the Chicago Bulls in the Finals. After losing the opening two games of the championship series, the Jazz even things up with victories in Games 3 and 4. The Bulls bounced back with two consecutive wins to defeat the Jazz and win the NBA title.

A year later, Utah and Chicago met up again in the NBA Finals. Once again, the Bulls took the title with a 4-2 series win.

The two straight trips to the Finals still remain as Utah’s only appearances in the championship series.

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