Fifteen years later, John Stockton is breaking his silence.
The famously private former Utah Jazz point guard is making the interview rounds to promote his new autobiography, Assisted, and in a recent conversation with Sports Illustrated he said that he believes Michael Jordan got away with one.
Jordan’s game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals has been immortalized as his “Final Shot,” even though his return in 2001 means it technically was not his final shot after all. Still, Jordan’s elbow jump shot over Jazz forward Bryon Russell has become the image most fans prefer to keep as their lasting memory of His Airness.
Yet a lot of Utah fans, and many impartial observers, insist that Jordan pushed off of Russell to get the extra space necessary for the shot. Stockton is in that camp.
“First question,” SI’s Chris Mannix asked Stockton. “Did Michael Jordan push off against Bryon Russell?’
“No question,” Stockton replied. “I’m not saying that because I think it should have been called a foul. I don’t. But he shoved him.”
“So he pushed off, but no foul,” Mannix said.
“Agreed,” Stockton said.
The 1998 finals was Stockton and Karl Malone‘s last good shot at a championship together. The Jazz never again made it out of the second round of the playoffs with their Hall of Fame duo, and Stockton retired in 2003 while Malone signed with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Check out Jordan’s famous shot in the video below.