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Michael Jordan ‘fueled’ by Karl Malone MVP win to beat Jazz

Michael Jordan, Karl Malone

As seen numerous times throughout ESPN’s “The Last Dance” docuseries, Michael Jordan uses apparent slights against him as motivation to perform at his best and prove people wrong.

Such was the case in the 1996-97 season when Jordan finished second in the MVP voting behind Utah Jazz superstar Karl Malone.

In episode 9 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” docuseries, the ever-competitive Jordan admitted that he wanted to send a clear message entering the Bulls’ Finals series against the Jazz that year.

Judging by his numbers, Michael Jordan indeed had an MVP-worthy season in ’97-98. He suited up in all 82 regular-season games and normed 29.6 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 1.7 steals while knocking down 48.6 percent of his field goals and 37.4 percent of his threes.

Karl Malone, on the other hand, also led the Jazz to the top seed in his division and averaged 27.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.4 steals on 55 percent shooting from the field and 75.5 percent from the line.

All in all, Jordan was named MVP five times in his career, while Malone won twice. It could have very well been a case of voter’s fatigue, considering Jordan won the award the season prior.

This is not a knock on Malone and the amazing season that he had. Jordan said so himself that The Mailman was deserving, but he felt he had an edge over him that season.

Jordan and the Bulls, meanwhile, went on to defeat the Jazz in six games in the finale. MJ had the last laugh as he was hailed as the Finals MVP.

Malone, on the other hand, joins the long list of players who inadvertently ticked off Jordan. The same goes for guys like Dan Majerle and LaBradfrod Smith who all suffered Jordan’s wrath.