ESPN's "The Last Dance" focused on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls and the many figures that made such an incredible team and season possible. There was no shortage of clutch moments from that season. Michael Jordan's game-winning shot against the Jazz is obviously the magnum opus of those moments, but that wasn't the only one.
Jordan hit a buzzer beater from 15 feet out to beat the Hawks, 112-110, in February of that season. Three months earlier, Jordan and the Bulls were down by three points against the Spurs when Jordan hit a 26-foot three pointer as time expired to send the contest to OT. He hit a 16-footer with 21 seconds left to send it to double OT and eventually sealed the game on a jumper he nailed with 30 ticks left. He hit one against the Raptors in March to hit put the Bulls ahead by two with 28 seconds left. After Toronto answered, he hit another jumper to put the Bulls back on top with just five seconds to go.
In short, Michael Jordan was the king of many things in basketball, and the king of clutch was one of his many deserved titles.
If you took MJ out of the equation, things obviously would get a lot stickier in close-game, tight-time situations. But we can't imagine the Bulls would have had as much difficulty without Jordan as the NBA Jam Bulls did against the Pistons in the classic 1993 video game. That's because it was quite literally impossible to make a last-second shot using Chicago in games against Detroit, thanks to a modification made by NBA Jam creator and lifelong Pistons fan Mark Turmell.
"Being from Michigan originally, I'm a big Detroit Pistons fan," Turmell said on the Ars Technica YouTube channel (19:39 mark). "Making this game in Chicago during the hype of the Michael Jordan era, there was a big rivalry. The Pistons and the Bulls. But the one way that I could get back at the Bulls once they got over the hump was to affect their skills against the Pistons in NBA Jam.
"I put in special code that if the Bulls were taking a last-second shot against the Pistons, they would miss those shots. And so if you're ever playing the game, make sure you pick the Pistons over the Bulls."
We're not sure if this is proper vengeance for the Michael Jordan-Isiah Thomas beef that took the Bulls-Pistons rivalry to a whole different level -- which, by the way, was another fascinating element of "The Last Dance" -- but it sure is interesting to know that there was a reason behind all those frustrating last-second misses. It's also cool to see a video game take on the personality of its creator in a practical way.
Now, I want to put it to action. Would a wide-open Scottie Pippen really miss a dunk against the Pistons if it occurred while time was expiring? If anyone has the original NBA Jam, try it out and let me know what happens!