Michael Jordan's motivation for 1997 NBA Finals was Karl Malone winning MVP

Tim Stebbins
NBC Sports Chicago

Michael Jordan's biggest motivating factor entering the 1997 NBA Finals wasn't winning his second straight championship. Nor was it winning his fifth title in seven years.

Rather, it was Jazz forward Karl Malone winning the 1996-97 NBA MVP award, Jordan revealed in Episode 9 of ESPN's "The Last Dance."

"I'm not saying he wasn't deserving of it," Jordan said in the docuseries. "All I'm saying is that that fueled the fire in me. [I said] ‘Okay, you think he's the MVP? That's fine, no problem.'"

Malone averaged 27.4 points and 9.9 rebounds that season, leading the Jazz to their first Finals appearance. Jordan led the league in scoring (29.6 ppg), averaging 5.9 boards, 4.3 assists and 1.7 steals.

That 'slight' resulted in Jordan's Bulls winning the Finals 4-2, so, while it may have been an interesting way to get motivated, it sure worked for MJ.

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Michael Jordan's motivation for 1997 NBA Finals was Karl Malone winning MVP originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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