It’s getting easier and easier to see why Sports Illustrated named this iconic Michael Jordan image as the greatest sports photograph ever taken.
The image of the Bulls superstar seemingly floating through the air as the ball sails towards the hoop with destiny in the dying seconds of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals is the stuff of legend.
It captures the eerie, brief moment of breath-holding calm before Jordan plunged a dagger into the Utah Jazz with his game-winning jump shot.
The world is only realising now how much else the image also captured.
The photograph, taken by veteran NBA shooter Fernando Medina, has been blowing minds across the internet this week since the final episode of Jordan’s epic The Last Dance documentary was screened on ESPN and Netflix — covering His Airness in glory all over again.
Michael Jordan’s iconic photo by photographer Fernando Medina.Source:Twitter
Eagle-eyed fans have spotted the insane details covered in the shot, including a lone Chicago Bulls fan standing just above the shot clock holding up six fingers.
It has widely been speculated that the child in the photo is holding up his six fingers in the final gasp before Jordan’s bucket, predicting the legend’s sixth NBA championship.
Medina admits it is “crazy” to look back at the photo and see some of the hidden detail.
The child’s six finger salute came at the exact moment that Jordan, who stands six feet and six inches tall, hung in the air while the shot clock ticked over to 6.6 seconds moments before his team’s sixth championship ring won in the sixth month of the year.
A Bulls fan predicts the future before iconic Michael Jordan moment.Source:Twitter
Medina says the young Bulls fan may not have been the only person in the crowd capable of predicting the future that night.
He told NBA.com recently there is another child on the right hand side of the photo wearing a black Bulls jersey that also held up six fingers at the exact same moment as the young fan in red, snapped just above the shot clock.
“In the picture, see if you can find it, there’s a little boy wearing a black Bulls jersey and he’s got his hands up in the air. He knows that shot is going in,” Medina said.
My favorite Last Shot detail:
The kid. Seated a row above the shot clock. Ball in the air. White Bulls hat. 6 fingers up.
6 rings. pic.twitter.com/GTyECOZob9
Look closer at this kid in the backdrop of MJ’s final shot as a Chicago Bull.
Six 🔥 pic.twitter.com/PO5U12XzTd
“There’s no doubt in his mind that the Bulls just won. All the people’s expressions are what makes that picture. That and a little serendipity on the clock, because with 6.6 seconds left on the clock … It’s his sixth championship, in his sixth try, he’s six-foot-six, it was in June. All these sixes, which is crazy about this picture. It really adds to it too.”
The photo, however, appears a little inconclusive with the child raising both his hands.
Another fan predicts greatness in the final gasp before Michael Jordan sunk the winner.Source:Twitter
The greatness of the photo, which first appeared in ESPN The Magazine several weeks later, has continued to wow the NBA world this week.
In 2012, Sports Illustrated named it the No. 1 sports photograph ever captured as it counted down the 100 greatest sports images ever.
Arguably the most famous bucket in basketball. Jordan’s shot has also continued to spark debate — more than 20 years later.
The jump shot, which put the Bulls ahead 87-86 with five seconds to go still haunts the Utah Jazz.
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Defender Byron Russell in 2018 insisted Jordan got away with an illegal push in the moments before the shot, giving him the space he needed to drain an uncontested shot.
“I knew what his hot spots were. I knew that’s where he wanted to go,” Russell described in 2018.
“I was 6-7, he’s 6-6. He’s 215 (pounds) and I was like 220. So I’m like, ‘He’s not going to beat me’. So he done something that not even the world has seen. He gave me that extra little push so he could get to his sweet spot.
“He knew what he was going to do and I knew he was trying to get there and I was trying to make sure I got him cut off. I was a step ahead of him but he kind of felt like, ‘Here, let me give you this extra push Russ’ — and then he hit the shot.”
Just like that, one of the most iconic moments in sport was sealed.
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