Utah Jazz: Time for a 15-year flashback on the Jazz's last trip to the NBA Finals
Now in the midst of a major rebuilding effort — after missing the playoffs twice in the past three years — who knows how long it will be before Utah again soaks in a Finals atmosphere that Sloan described as "unreal."
But 15 Junes ago, they were there.
The Jazz had a chance to beat the best player who's ever stepped on the court. Basketball's biggest prize — the golden Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy — was within their reach.
A parade down State Street was only two wins away.
Blame it on fate, Jordan, conspiracy theories, pressure-packed shortcomings of Utah's stars or whatever.
It just didn't happen.
"Our players played hard," Sloan said. "I thought we got beat by a great player."
He's long since learned to live with that fact.
"Whenever you've done the best you can do and you feel like you put everything you had into it, I don't think you can ask for any more from people," Sloan said from his Utah home. "That's like asking a guy to be alive when he's dead."
Or to be Michael Jordan when you're not.
Perhaps the lyrics from one of the popular rock songs from 1998 — Green Day's "Good Riddance" — best sums up the NBA Finals nostalgia many in Utah still have in their hearts from that oh-so-frustratingly-close experience.
And, while remembering the life lessons about enjoying what you have while you have it and the importance of practicing carpe diem, please sing along.
"So take the photographs and still frames in your mind,
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time,
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial.
For what it's worth, it was worth all the while.
It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right.
I hope you had the time of your life."
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