There is no easy nor painless nor enjoyable way to see it happen; no remedy nor tonic that can change the final score.

"I'm a good fan," said Ray Addison, still glued to his Delta Center seat a half hour after the Chicago Bulls won the NBA title Sunday night."I'm just a bad loser."

Addison, of South Jordan, was in no mood to get up and walk out, or do much of anything, despite suggestions from the building's security staff that he strongly consider it.

He was not alone in his grumpiness. Thousands of somber, frowning fans departed with an equally sour demeanor. And those Bulls fans - where did they all come from? - just made it worse with their smug victory chants, their hooting and shouting, and their parade of flag-waving cars down 300 West.

"The steal on Malone was so hauntingly beautiful," exclaimed one Chicagoan, Stephen White, who flew in with his buddies just to stand around the concourse after the game and make Utah Jazz fans feel bad.

That was a pivotal play, with 19 seconds left, when perhaps the greatest basketball talent ever to materialize stripped the ball from Karl Malone, perhaps the greatest power forward to ever play.

In crunch time in the biggest game in franchise history, Jazz fans wanted the ball in their superstar's hands. And for the few seconds it was there, fans anxiously waited for his broad and muscular shoulders to find him an open shot that would bring on Game Seven.

But Michael Jordan wouldn't let it be and showed, like so many times before, that crunch time in the championship series belongs to him. Perhaps it did cushion the blow to realize that Jordan himself single-handedly dashed Utah's hopes of winning Sunday's sixth game of the 1998 NBA Finals and forcing a deciding seventh game here Wednesday.

If Utahns could handle losing to anyone, they could accept defeat at the hands of the master of all masters.

Jordan had two steals in the final three minutes, including the theft of Malone with the Bulls down by a point and the Jazz seemingly in control. He also scored the Bulls' last eight points as Chicago rallied from an 83-79 deficit with 2:34 left to beat the Jazz, 87-86.

He hit a 17-foot jumper with 5.2 seconds left to win it.

"I think Jordan just made a great play," said David Houser of Murray, who took the loss as well as anyone. "Great players make great plays.

"There's always next year."

Maybe next time No. 23 won't stand in the way. Jordan, who may have played the last game of his unprecedented career, finished with 45 points as the Bulls clinched their sixth NBA title in eight years.

"Michael Jordan, unquestionably, is the best basketball player ever to touch the ball," Kenny Barfield of Park City proclaimed afterward. "You'll get no complaints from me about the Jazz' performance. We couldn't have asked for a better performance from them.

"Michael Jordan is the player, unfortunately, that can beat anybody in that situation."

There were complaints about the officiating, as you would expect from any losing crowd.

"We definitely got robbed. (Howard) Eisley's shot was clearly in the air," said Parker Coates of Tooele, referring to a 3-pointer taken away from the Jazz in the second quarter when officials ruled the 24-second clock had expired.

But few fans felt gypped by the effort their team had shown them. Most who came to the Delta Center were just fortunate to be there, ecstatic that the Jazz won Friday in Chicago to bring the series home.

"I thought they played their hearts out," said Mike Boyce, a Jazz fan who came from Kansas City just for Sunday's game.

"I didn't think Malone could have another game like he did Friday in Game Five, but he sure did," Gerald Olson said of Malone's 31-point, 11-rebound effort.

The fans did their part, too. They were as loud and penetrating as any Delta Center crowd has been.

They booed and heckled Dennis Rodman with delight. They booed the greatest player of all time. They even booed a cute little girl, although that action was clearly justified - she was wearing a red Bulls outfit.

"We just didn't root loud enough, I guess," said Lane Wilcock of Salt Lake City, who was too hoarse to say anything more.

Whether suffering from the same affliction or just having nothing good to say, most Jazz fans walked out into the sunset in silence, quietly ending the drama of Utah's second consecutive NBA Finals series.

"Now," Brian Rogers of North Ogden said, "we can get our life back to normal."

Not that he, or any other Jazz fan, wanted to.