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While his Golden State Warriors are matched up with the New Orleans Pelicans in the second round of the 2018 NBA playoffs, Stephen Curry likely endeared himself to Utah Jazz fans with his comments about the 1998 NBA Finals.
Michael Jordan propelled the Chicago Bulls to the 1998 title over Utah—the second straight year his team beat the Jazz in the Finals—with a game-winning jump shot in Game 6 after shaking himself free of Bryon Russell.
Curry thinks the all-time great pushed off on Russell before elevating to drain the jumper, per Eric Woodyard of the Deseret News:
“What’s funny is that Bryon Russell was actually one of my favorite players growing up for no specific reason. So I was kind of hurt. I loved Jordan, but Bryon Russell was one of my guys, and I was hurt that it had to be him. He definitely pushed off, though.”
Russell has the support of Curry in what is the most famous moment of his basketball career, but the former Jazz swingman believes Utah should immortalize him for his other contributions to the franchise.
“Those are my two favorites. They should retire my number next to theirs,” Russell said when discussing Karl Malone and John Stockton, per Woodyard. “The amount of work I did as a Jazz player, we made some history together and I was a key part of that history. So I figure if they retire Jeff Hornacek’s number, they should retire mine.”
Despite his desire to see his jersey retired, Russell averaged just 9.2 points and 3.8 rebounds a night with zero All-Star nods during his 628 games in a Jazz uniform.
Curry’s comments are notable for more than just his belief Jordan pushed off.
The Warriors sharpshooter grew up in North Carolina while his father played for the Charlotte Hornets. Jordan has intricate ties to the state, doing much of his growing up there and eventually playing collegiate basketball for the North Carolina Tar Heels. He is also the current owner of the Hornets.
Even with the ties to his home state, Curry didn’t play favorites with the Hall of Famer and arguably greatest player in basketball history when it came to discussing the famous shot from the 1998 Finals. Perhaps the Jazz fans will remember that and greet Curry accordingly if their team plays the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.