The Chicago Bulls swept the New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, in the playoffs in 1998. However, the Nets may have been cheated in Game 1 of that series.
While sports fans anxiously awaits the return of sports, “The Last Dance” documentary has served as a great distraction every Sunday night for the past few weeks. The documentary touched up on the Chicago Bulls facing the New Jersey Nets, now Brooklyn Nets, in the first round of the 1998 playoffs.
The Bulls won that game 96-93 in overtime, but the fact that the Nets even had a chance to win that game down the stretch was impressive, as most pundits gave the Nets virtually no chance to even make this series competitive.
Michael Jordan himself said that the only way that his team would lose to the Nets was if they “fell asleep.”
With just over two minutes left in the game, the Nets were down by three points with Kendall Gill heading to the line. Gill knocked down the first free-throw, but missed the second one as Jayson Williams outmuscled Dennis Rodman for the tip-in layup.
However… as Anthony Puccio pointed out, Williams’ tip-in didn’t count as two points, which would’ve tied this game up.
Could it have been an error on TNT’s part for getting the score wrong? Absolutely. But… when you go over to Basketball-Reference, you’ll see in the play-by-play section of this game that Gill was credited with making his second free-throw instead of Williams being credited for the layup.
Although John Calipari and the Nets never protested this call, it’s very clear that Williams and Rodman were fighting for the ball and Williams had him beat for the tip-in, so everyone involved in the scoring process that night clearly got that call wrong.
As soon as the ball rims out, that shot or free-throw attempt is considered a miss, so there’s absolutely no way that Williams’ tip-in shouldn’t have been counted as two points.
This game, of course, ended up going into overtime, but if that tip-in was counted appropriately, and everything else that transpired after remained the same, then the Nets would’ve at least been able to make MJ eat his disrespectful words for one game.
The Nets showed a lot more heart and hustle than the Bulls that game, which was evidenced by the fact that they outrebounded the Bulls 53-39. It’s a shame that the Nets ended up being cheated out of an opportunity to reap the benefits of their hard work in trying to take down a juggernaut team like the Bulls.