The Blackhawks' Ode to Game 6 and the Late Winning Shot

The Blackhawks' Ode to Game 6 and the Late Winning Shot
A last minute wins are is always so much better than a blowout.

Just 15 years and 11 days ago in another Game 6 Michael Jordan silenced the critics with "The Last Shot".

Just like last night, this Game 6  was out of town, at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, home of the Utah Jazz. It seems that few people remember that after an allegedly lackluster 62-20 Bulls regular season run, that every magazine and newspaper in the country chose the Jazz as favorites to topple the Bulls and take the 1998 title. Only Vegas odds and Bulls fans at home picked Phil Jackson's team with Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and a cast of hearty support players to win a sixth championship.

Weeks after the win posters of The Last Shot started to surface everywhere. With one posted up in the conference room at my workplace, coworkers and I jeered as we tried to replicate the harrowing thoughts and expressions of Utah Jazz fans in stands behind the bucket, all of whom knew Jordan's shot was going in.

What made it all the more enjoyable was that the Bulls had a tough run to to get there. Plus, in Game 6 and in much of the 1998 NBA season overall, Utah was the better team. This was the conventional wisdom until the Bulls took an 87-86 lead with 5.2 seconds left on the clock.

Last night as Dave Bolland buried the shot against Boston that sealed the deal with a 3-2 win in Game 6 over the Boston Bruins, we forgot for a moment that most of us were thinking about yet another Blackhawks overtime necessary to achieve the win. And, we totally forgot that 18 seconds prior to this moment that we were biting our nails with the prospect of a Game 7 back home in Chicago.

A nail biter or not, what last night's 3-2 win  reminds us is that a close and hard-fought win is always better, always sweeter, and much more exciting than an easy blowout.

This fact isn't meant to take away from Chicago's more decisive wins like the White Sox's 2005 World Series sweep over the Houston Astros. Each game of the 2005 Series was a chess game with each win as a soldierly, strategic part of the whole campaign. Not to mention that it was the first (and possibly the last) World Series title that Chicago had seen in a long, long time.


On June 14, 1998, Michael Jordan dusted Utah's Bryon Russell to sink "The Last Shot" to seal the win and a sixth trophy by a single point

Part of the great excitement about sports --something that both die hards and casual fans get-- is that anything can happen at any moment when a ball or a puck is moving. Besides the Bulls' sixth Championship #6 and the Hawks' great win last night, the beauty of the last-moment win is that it recurs in sport time and time again.

Last Mothers' Day, devoted soccer fans were glued to the TV as two teams from Manchester, England were in a final day tussle to win the Premier League trophy, the EPL's equivalent to the Stanley Cup or Vince Lombardi Trophy. To start the day, all Manchester City had to do was win, but found themselves down 2-1 at home to one of the worst teams in the league. Yet, like the Blackhawks last night, City pulled it out with two goals in two minutes to win their first title in 44 years. Similarly in 1999, Manchester United had done the same, winning 2-1 over German giants Bayern in the all-Europe Champions League, thanks to footwork by David Beckham and last breath goals by Sheringham and Solkjaer.


With a last minute goal from Sergio Aguero, City win 3-2 as blue Manchester rips the trophy from red Manchester's hands.

In America however, last minute wins can appear all the more surprising and dramatic. Especially since  three of the four major sports championships are won in a series (not a single game), and also given the amount of hyperbole and countless pundits throwing out their own prediction for every single game of each series.

Still football never fails to surprise us with the last moment win.Both the New England Patriots' final drive in Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, and the Pittsburgh Steelers' last minute touchdown win over the Cardinals in 2009 stand as examples. And even in lesser games of the post-season one quick play can seal the win.


And the much-criticized Tim Tebow's first play in overtime that ended the Pittsburgh Steelers' post-season hopes.

Whether you're a dedicated Blackhawks fan, a football fan, a fan of World Cup soccer, a fan of fly fishing, shuffle board, collegiate softball, or even darts, there's something for everyone to enjoy in the last-moment come-from-behind win. It's the real reason we watch in the first place.

 

Andy Frye writes about sports and the crazy dispositions of sports fans for ESPN.com. Follow on Twitter at @MySportsComplex.

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