Michael Jordan achieved everything a basketball player and an athlete can accomplish both individually and from a team perspective. During his 15-year-long career, Jordan won five regular-season MVP awards, but the one in 1997 got away from him and went to the hands of Karl Malone. Leading the Utah Jazz to a 64-18 record averaging 27 points and 10 rebounds per game, Malone, without a doubt, deserved the MVP award that year.
You can also make a strong case for Jordan because he led the Chicago Bulls that season to a 69-13 record with Dennis Rodman missing almost 30 games in the regular season. He was 35 that season but still averaged 29 points,6 rebounds shooting exceptionally efficient from the field. Nevertheless, in an interview before the NBA finals against the Jazz, Jordan had a conversation with Ahmad Rashad about the award. Jordan said he doesn’t have jealousy towards Karl, saying it’s enough if people still consider him an MVP.
Because of the opinion of others, they choose to give it to a guy that’s been in the league as long and consistent that I was. He’s also been on the team that was equally as successful this year. I can’t have any jealousy or animosity towards Karl even though I may had a good season, and certainly, from a stats standpoint it wasn’t my best season. As long as I am consistently thought of an MVP, I’m happy with that.Michael Jordan
Jordan knew from the get-go the championship is all that matters. Individual accomplishments at that stage of his carer didn’t mean that Jordan was aware of the most significant advantage they had over the Jazz was their experience playing in the finals. The Jazz and Karl Malone had no experience in that area, which was an essential factor in the series.
I’m the ultimate competitor. I add that to the challenge that I’m presenting to myself just by being in the finals. There are other challenges outside that. I haven’t been in the final that we didn’t win, but sure I have an individual challenge. Yeah, Karl, you won the MVP this year. This is the MVP of the finals. Just like winning a championship, this is leading your team to the ultimate goal.Michael Jordan
From the initial start of the Finals series, it was evident the Bulls were a much superior team, and when it mattered the most, Jordan proved he was still the best player on the planet, no matter who won the MVP award. He averaged 32 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists while leading the Bulls to their fifth NBA championship and second straight after returning from retirement.
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Michael Jordan’s reaction after Karl Malone being selected as the 1997 MVP over him: “I can’t have any jealousy or animosity towards Karl.” Couple seconds later: “Yeah Karl, you won the MVP this year. THIS IS THE MVP OF THE FINALS.” After this interview, he hit a game winner.