Commentary

Greatest Finals performances: No. 4

Updated: June 15, 2011, 10:51 PM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN.com

Michael Jordan Andy Hayt/NBAE/Getty ImagesSomehow MJ carried the Bulls past the Jazz, even if he had to lean on Scottie Pippen in the Flu Game.

Editor's note: We're ranking the best Finals performances since the NBA-ABA merger.


Rankings: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50

4. Michael Jordan, Chicago, 1997

Yes, Jordan produced another strong series overall, but the reason this one resonates is because of the Flu Game.

With the series tied at 2 and Utah looking to steal the momentum, Jordan was weak and nauseated and in no shape to play Game 5. Somehow, he still did.

And man, did he play well. I would argue it is still the most amazing performance I've ever seen, a night when the Jordan legend went to yet another ridiculous level. Fighting exhaustion and dehydration and practically needing to be carried to the bench during timeouts in the fourth quarter, Jordan led the Bulls back from an early 16-point deficit by scoring 38 points in a 90-88 victory that gave them the upper hand.

He surrounded that heroic Game 5 effort with two game-winning plays. In the opener, he hit a game-winning jumper at the buzzer over Bryon Russell and finished with 31. And in the clincher, during a 39-point, 11-rebound effort, he waited for a double-team and found a wide-open Steve Kerr for the series-winning jumper.

For the series, Jordan had another amazing line -- 32.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 6.0 assists and a 29.5 PER. But it was the clutch plays and the Flu Game that put this one so high in the stratosphere.


Rankings: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20 | 21-30 | 31-40 | 41-50

John Hollinger writes for ESPN Insider. To e-mail him, click here.

Justin Kubatko of Basketball-Reference.com contributed research to this list.