Indiana Pacers

'Last Dance': Michael Jordan trolled Larry Bird after 1998 playoff series

'Last Dance': Michael Jordan trolled Larry Bird after 1998 playoff series

Larry Bird had Michael Jordan’s number during his playing days — Bird’s Celtics swept Jordan’s Bulls in the first round of the 1986 NBA Playoffs. But it was Jordan who came out on top during Bird’s coaching days.

The Bulls beat the Indiana Pacers 4-3 in the 1998 Eastern Conference Finals. Bird was Indiana’s head coach, and after Game 7, Jordan made sure to get some trash talk in. From a postgame conversation featured in Episode 9 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance.”

Bird: "You b***h, f**k you." 
Jordan: "Y'all gave us a run for our money." 
Bird: "Yeah, I'll see ya." 
Jordan: "All right, take care. Now you can work on that golf game of yours."

Got ‘em.

Indiana gave the Bulls a run for their money and nearly ended Jordan’s final season in Chicago a round early. Alas, close, but no cigar, Indy.

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Bulls passed biggest test of dynasty in surviving the 1998 Indiana Pacers

Bulls passed biggest test of dynasty in surviving the 1998 Indiana Pacers

Forget "The Last Dance." Last Gasp is more like it.

Never were the Bulls more on the ropes, more in doubt that their dynasty would end with a loss, than on May 31, 1998.

Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Bulls and Pacers, which NBC Sports Chicago will rebroadcast at 7 p.m. Thursday, produced a final score of 88-83. If that low score doesn't indicate the slugfest that this physical series produced, well, then maybe this postgame quote does.

"It was a hard-fought victory," Michael Jordan said.

This was no high-flying, athletic affair from His Airness and company. This was a proud team using every one of its last resources to grind out a victory.

This was Steve Kerr hitting a huge 3-pointer midway through the fourth quarter. This was Toni Kukoc delivering big shot after big shot, particularly in the third. This was Scottie Pippen taking on seemingly every defensive matchup and scoring the clinching basket late.

And this was Jordan, switching onto Reggie Miller and limiting him to one fourth-quarter shot (which the Pacers All-Star guard missed).

Jordan said afterward that he and his teammates never thought negatively. That's what championship teams do. But make no mistake: This game marked the biggest test of the championship era.

Last Dance or no, that the Bulls survived it to advance to the NBA Finals for a rematch against the Jazz proved yet again how tough-minded and battle-tested they were.

RELATED: How Michael Jordan motivated Bulls for Game 7 of '98 Eastern Conference finals

Through May 15, NBC Sports Chicago is airing every 1998 Chicago Bulls NBA Playoff game (21 total). Find the full schedule here.

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Pacers GM Chad Buchanan pulls out of consideration for Bulls' front office job

Pacers GM Chad Buchanan pulls out of consideration for Bulls' front office job

Chad Buchanan has worked closely and successfully with Kevin Pritchard at two NBA franchises, including their current situation with the Indiana Pacers. Pritchard currently serves as the Pacers' president of basketball operations, Buchanan the general manager.

Ultimately, that comfort level and a strong personal situation led Buchanan to wanting to stay put in Indiana. Buchanan, one of Bulls president Michael Reinsdorf’s four initial interview targets to run basketball operations in a new-look front office, conveyed his desire to stay, according to a source. The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported the news.

The Bulls remain hopeful to receive permission to interview Nuggets general manager Arturas Karnisovas, Raptors general manager Bobby Webster and Heat vice president of basketball operations/assistant general manager Adam Simon. Reinsdorf’s goal is to build a front office with depth, and whomever is hired to head Bulls’ basketball operations could make additional hires and be charged with overhauling the scouting department.

Executive vice president John Paxson, who largely initiated the need to modernize the front office, is expected to remain in an advisory role. However, Paxson has made clear to ownership he’s willing to play as large or as small a role as the new head of basketball operations desires.

The future of general manager Gar Forman, who largely has been moved to a scouting position, could be determined by the new hire.

As previously reported, Reinsdorf remains a fan of coach Jim Boylen. However, whomever the Bulls hire to run basketball operations will have full authority, including ultimately deciding the coaching staff’s future.

One rising force in the Bulls’ front office who is expected to be safe is assistant general manager Steve Weinman, a source said. He has made an impression not only internally but among rival league executives for his salary cap acumen and knowledge of the collective bargaining agreement.

It’s Reinsdorf’s goal to have the hire in place before a possible resumption of the 2019-20 season that has been suspended due to the COVID-19 virus. Most league observers believe any potential resumption is multiple weeks if not months away, and there is some planning for the potential loss of the balance of the season.

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