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1997–98 NBA season

1997-98 NBA season
League National Basketball Association
Sport Basketball
Duration October 31, 1997 – April 19, 1998
April 23 – May 31, 1998 (Playoffs)
June 3 – 14, 1998 (Finals)
Number of teams 29
TV partner(s) NBC, TBS, TNT
Top draft pick Tim Duncan
Picked by San Antonio Spurs
Regular season
Top seed Utah Jazz
Season MVP Michael Jordan (Chicago)
Top scorer Michael Jordan (Chicago)
Eastern champions Chicago Bulls
  Eastern runners-up Indiana Pacers
Western champions Utah Jazz
  Western runners-up Los Angeles Lakers
Champions Chicago Bulls
  Runners-up Utah Jazz
Finals MVP Michael Jordan (Chicago)

The 1997–98 NBA season was the 52nd season of the National Basketball Association. The season ended with the Chicago Bulls winning their third straight championship and sixth in the last eight years, beating the Utah Jazz 4 games to 2 in the 1998 NBA Finals. This would also be in many people's eyes the end of a golden era of basketball with the departure of Michael Jordan and the end of the dynasty for the Chicago Bulls before Michael Jordan returned in 2001 for the Washington Wizards. This is the last time that both NBA and NHL regular seasons ended on the same day.


  • Notable occurrences 1
  • Final standings 2
    • By division 2.1
    • By conference 2.2
  • Playoffs 3

Notable occurrences

Coaching changes
Team 1996–97 coach 1997–98 coach
Boston Celtics M. L. Carr Rick Pitino
Denver Nuggets Dick Motta Bill Hanzlik
Golden State Warriors Rick Adelman P. J. Carlesimo
Indiana Pacers Larry Brown Larry Bird
Orlando Magic Richie Adubato Chuck Daly
Philadelphia 76ers Johnny Davis Larry Brown
Portland Trail Blazers P. J. Carlesimo Mike Dunleavy, Sr.
Vancouver Grizzlies Stu Jackson Brian Hill
Team Outgoing coach Incoming coach
Dallas Mavericks Jim Cleamons Don Nelson
Detroit Pistons Doug Collins Alvin Gentry
Toronto Raptors Darrell Walker Butch Carter
  • The 1998 NBA All-Star Game was played at Madison Square Garden. However, the Slam Dunk Contest was not held, due to the risk of player injuries, lack of new dunking tricks and lack of big-name players in recent competitions. Instead, a 2Ball competition was held. Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant became the youngest All-Star starter at age 19. Michael Jordan won his third All-Star MVP.
  • The Washington Bullets were renamed the Wizards. They began the season at US Airways Arena, then in December, they played their first game at the MCI Center (now Verizon Center) during this season.
  • Due to the demolition of Georgia Dome.
  • Golden State Warriors swingman Latrell Sprewell made headlines by choking Warriors head coach P. J. Carlesimo during practice on December 1, 1997. Sprewell was ultimately suspended for 68 games, at the time the longest in NBA history. Sprewell would be traded to the New York Knicks in the off-season that followed.
  • Michael Jordan passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leader in points scored in the NBA Playoffs.
  • The Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls shared the league's best record at 62–20, and met each other in the NBA Finals. The Jazz had home-court advantage by virtue of the head-to-head match-up (the Jazz won the season series 2–0).
  • Two new records were set in Game 3 of the NBA Finals: biggest margin of victory (42 points) and fewest points scored in an NBA Finals game (54) in the Bulls' rout of the Jazz.
  • The San Antonio Spurs set a league record for the biggest single-season turnaround (36 games), breaking the record set in the 1989–90 NBA season by the Spurs; it was later broken by the 2007–08 Boston Celtics.
  • Following head coach Phil Jackson's decision to not return to the Bulls, Michael Jordan announced his second retirement from the NBA during the following offseason. This was Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls. Scottie Pippen was traded for Roy Rogers (who was released in February 1999) and a conditional second-round draft pick from the Houston Rockets. Dennis Rodman was not re-signed either, leading to the end of an era for the Chicago Bulls and the NBA.
  • Houston Rockets guard Clyde Drexler retired after 15 seasons, 12 of which he spent with the Portland Trail Blazers, where he led the team to two NBA Finals, in 1990 and 1992. He won his only NBA championship in 1995 while playing for the Rockets.
  • The restricted area arc was allowed.
  • On February 27, the Indiana Pacers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 124–59, marking the first time in NBA history that one team scored more than twice as many points as its opponent.
  • Nike became the official outfitter for select NBA teams (Boston Celtics, Chicago Bulls, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards), which ran for seven years. Other NBA teams were outfitted by Starter Clothing Line, Puma, Reebok or Champion.
  • The Denver Nuggets lost 71 games, joining the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers, 1987 Los Angeles Clippers, and 1993 Dallas Mavericks (later joined by the 2010 New Jersey Nets) as the only teams to lose 70 games in a season. The Nuggets also equaled the longest single-season losing streak with 23 consecutive losses, sharing the mark with the 1995–96 Vancouver Grizzlies.
  • All the Western Conference teams that missed the playoffs had 55 or more losses. Four of them lost more than 62 games. The ninth-place Sacramento Kings finished the season with a 27–55 record, 14 games behind the eighth-place Houston Rockets (41–41), winning just one of their last 20 games. The tenth-place Dallas Mavericks ended with a 20–62 record.
  • Violet Palmer and Dee Kantner became the first two female officials in NBA history (as well as any of the four major professional sports leagues). As of the 2015–16 season, only Palmer still remains in the NBA.

Final standings

By division

By conference


  • z – Clinched home court advantage for the entire playoffs
  • c – Clinched home court advantage for the conference playoffs
  • y – Clinched division title
  • x – Clinched playoff spot


Teams in bold advanced to the next round. The numbers to the left of each team indicate the team's seeding in its conference, and the numbers to the right indicate the

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