Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich
Paxson for 3 . . . Yes!
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Neil Funk's iconic radio call still can bring goosebumps to any Chicago Bulls fan. So can watching the replay of John Paxson's go-ahead 3-pointer in the waning seconds of Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals.
Tuesday marked the 30th anniversary of those moments, which placed an exclamation point on the Bulls' first threepeat, an achievement not accomplished in the NBA since the Boston Celtics in 1966.
That the Bulls went on to repeat the threepeat, winning three more NBA championships from 1996-98, cemented the franchise's status as one of professional sports' greatest dynasties. And the final offensive sequence from the first threepeat, which eliminated the Phoenix Suns 4-2, highlighted the teamwork needed to achieve such feats.
Michael Jordan inbounded to B.J. Armstrong, who fed the ball back to Jordan. With the Bulls trailing 98-96 and 14.1 seconds left, coach Phil Jackson had opted for the unconventional path of inbounding from three-quarters court rather than halfcourt. Jordan used his head of steam to dribble upcourt and feed Scottie Pippen, who turned to attack the basket.
Armstrong and Paxson ran the wings wide to create floor spacing. Pippen's dribble penetration led to a pass to Horace Grant, who immediately drew a double-team and passed the ball back out to a wide open Paxson.
Paxson buried the shot.
"The fact that each player touched the ball signified the way Phil wanted us to play," Paxson said in a 2013 interview with the Chicago Tribune on the 20th anniversary of the play. "Share the ball. Be unselfish. Don't expect Michael to bail us out all the time. Each player made the right read that ended up in an open shot."
Paxson, who also sank big shots in the fourth quarter of Game 5 to seal the Bulls' first NBA championship over the Los Angeles Lakers in 1991, went on to lead the Bulls' front office from 2003 to 2020. Now, he's a senior advisor as the current management team tries to achieve similarly lofty heights.