On May 29, 1953, Edmund Hilary became the first person to climb Mount Everest, a monumental achievement for our society. On July 31, 1954, Achille Compagoni climbed P2, the second-highest mountain in the world.
Many times we have seen individuals, or groups of people, climb to the top, and get over that mountain. As for a team named the Utah Jazz, who play in the mountainous area of Salt Lake City, were never able to get over that mountain.
But this mountain is different, an invisible mountain with its bounty being an NBA Championship. And here’s the story of how they could never get over that mountain.
The Utah Jazz were headlined by two incredibly gifted basketball players, John Stockton and Karl Malone, two very different players, but both with one goal in mind: to win an NBA Championship.
They started their journey up the mountain in 1986, losing to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Their journey would be long, disappointing, and included visits to places such as Seattle, Portland, Houston, and many other cities housing NBA franchises.
But after 11 long years, they were getting closer and closer to the apex, with one place left: Chicago.
This Chicago Bulls team, well, do I even have to explain myself? MJ. Pippen. Kerr. Phil Jackson. The Jazz, though, after 11 long years of trying to get over this mountain, were ready to face the best.
Back and forth these two teams went, but Steve Kerr’s shot at the buzzer left this Utah team halted at where they were at. A year passed, and there was one last chance left, a chance that was 12 years in the making.
The 1998 NBA Finals.
A championship event that was must-watch TV. The Utah Jazz had one final chance to take down the best, to reach the tip of the mountain. And after five games of beautiful basketball, Game 6 arrived.
Now, it would be remotely impossible to express my exact feelings towards this game. This game had it all.
I’m not encouraging you to watch the game, I’m telling you; Watch the game.
Michael Jordan. Crossover. Pull Up. Dagger. 45 for the night. Game Over. The Bulls were champions. Again.
I fell in love with this Jazz team. Stockton. Malone. Hornacek. And to fall two games short of climbing that mountain, to take down the best team to ever play, to take down the GOAT… TWICE.
I sit here and think: if only.
If only they had scaled the mountain of greatness.