Michael Jordan @ 50 The Memoirs of a Bulls fan far from Chicago

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A short career summary of the Greatest Basketball Player of All Time

April 16, 2003, not even a Playoff game, the other team isn’t fighting for Playoff contention, while the other team secured it’s spot in the NBA Postseason. The date though was significant at that time as the media, the attention of the whole world tuned in to the Washington Wizards and the Philadelphia 76ers game, which just like I said that has no bearing whatsoever in the league when it comes to Playoff positioning. All the attention and the media commotion was caused by one man who after playing 13 years from the Chicago Bulls, came back 5 years later and played for the Washington Wizards is finally bidding goodbye for good. Though he only scored 15 points, but the cheers and the adulation of the fans worldwide will always remember the Man, Michael Jordan.

I always remembered Michael Jordan as the ultimate winner, the scorer, the excellent teammate and the Best in the World. Growing up there are a lot of facts that I didn’t know about Jordan, one of those that he was cut when he tried out in their basketball varsity team in favor of Leroy Smith, while being demoted to Jr. Varsity (though several stories arose that Jordan dominated Jr. Varsity). A year later he improved his game, and eventually landed a spot in their HS basketball team which was Laney High School. Jordan went on and impressed Coach Mike Mike Kryzweski of Duke University. Coach K tried to recruit Jordan but Jordan decided to play for Dean Smith and The University of North Carolina. By the way here’s the proof the Coach K tried to recruit MJ.

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Coach K’s letter to Michael Jordan after learning he wouldn’t be coming to Duke. (Caption and photo taken from Bleacher Report, credit goes to them

Jordan then went on and found individual and team success with the Tar Heels (with teammate Sam Perkins and James Worthy) winning the 1982 NCAA Championship against future rival Patrick Ewing of the Georgetown Hoyas. He also won 2 All America First team, Rupp Awards, the Big O award to name a few. Jordan left before his senior year and threw his hat into the 1984 NBA Draft.

Jordan was selected 3rd behind Future Hall of Fame Center Akeem Olajuwon and draft bust Sam Bowie. Jordan went on to revitalized the city of Chicago, leading them to their first playoff appearance in years. Though Jordan broke his foot in the early part of the 85-86 season, he came back storming and in a memorable way. Jordan’s career brilliance was shown early as the young guard lit up the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of their Playoff Game at the historic Boston Garden. Jordan scored 63 points breaking the Elgin Baylor record that stood for years, though Jordan and the Bulls lost to the Celtics (who eventually won the NBA Title that year), Larry Bird gave props to the young guard saying “God disguised as Michael Jordan”. To this day the 63 point performance is still the record for the single game points scored by an individual in the NBA Playoffs.

Though Jordan would come up short, the Bulls franchise slowly built a solid team that will help the team to be relevant, adding pieces such as Scottie Pippen, Stacy King, BJ Armstrong, John Paxson, trading Charles Oakley for Center Bill Cartwright the Bulls slowly built the core that will help him win their first NBA Title but not after getting schooled by the Detroit Pistons and the Jordan Rules defense. Jordan and the Bulls eventually defeated their bitter rivals in 1991 via sweep and marched on to face the Magic Johnson, James Worthy led Los Angeles Lakers.

Though the series highlight was when Jordan changed the shot in mid air to avoid getting blocked, fans will always remember his brilliance throughout the series and how he used the triangle offense that was installed by 2nd year coach Phil Jackson. Though Pippen would steal thunder by limiting Magic in the majority of the series, Jordan had clutch shots and timely baskets and led them to the promise land, the first NBA title to the city of Chicago, though Jordan won another one in 1992, where in Jordan poured in 3 pointers after 3 pointers and the memory of the shrug lived on.

In 1992 Jordan with other NBA greats such as Magic, Larry Bird, teammate Scottie Pippen, David Robinson, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin, John Stockton, Charles Barkley, Cylde Drexler and Duke University’s Christian Laettner (who eventually got Drafted #2 by the Minnesota Timberwolves) dominated Barcelona en route to a Gold Medal victory over future teammate Toni Kukoc and Croatia.

Jordan then went on to dominate the 92-93 Season, posting 55 wins good enough to win them the 2nd seed in the East, though they somehow overcame the #1 seeded New York Knicks which is led by Partick Ewing in the playoffs and marched on to their 3rd Finals this time dating the Barkley led Phoenix Suns who won the MVP that season. Jordan and Barkley had a classic shoot out in most of the games, but when the dust has settled John Paxson burried a key 3 that sealed the league’s first 3 peat since the Boston Celtics back in the 60s.

Jordan then shocked the world and retired from the game of basketball, to play baseball and was assigned to a AA team where he batted  .202 had 51 RBIs and 3 HRs. Jordan then snapped out of his “dream” and came back to play basketball in 1995. Jordan then helped the Bulls to strengthen their playoff grip during that time he also torched the Knicks for 55 points. The Bulls though did not find Playoff success after Jordan returned in the 1995 Playoffs, they were eventually humiliated by the Orlando Magic, the picture of NIck Anderson stealing the ball from Jordan was a bitter pill to swallow for every Bulls fan, with that defeat Jordan worked on his game and improved to regain his rightful place.

Before the 1995-1996 season Jordan and Pippen welcomed the addition of former Rival and the NBA’s rebounding leader Dennis Rodman, with Rodman “anchoring” the Bulls’ defense and rebounding the Bulls cruised to the season winning 72 regular season games a record that still stands today as the most wins in the regular season. Jordan went on to win another MVP (he won 1987, 1991 and 1992 prior to that) and finally regaining the NBA title after battling the tough Seattle Supersonics in the Finals, the Father’s Day Game according to the Bulls lore, as an emotional Michael Jordan clutched the ball while on the floor crying as teammates mugged him, this was Jordan’s first title without his father at his side. The Bulls came back stronger the next season as Jordan won another MVP and while the Bulls posted 69 wins in the regular season. They faced the Utah Jazz who were led by Karl Malone and John Stockton. The series will be remembered not only for the Jordan game winner in Game 1 or the Steve Kerr game winner in Game 6 but also for the Flu Game where Jordan scored 38 points despite having Flu like symptoms. Jordan then won his 5th title. Title number 6 was a different story, Jordan had to carry the Bulls in the early part of the season due to the injury of Scottie Pippen, despite the early season struggle the Bulls posted a 60-22 record good enough to be #1 in the East, but will have to surrender homecourt advantage to a motivated Utah Jazz in the Finals. Indeed just like in the story books, the rematch was set. Though Quinito Henson insisted that the Jazz where favorites to win the series, he forgot one thing number 23, Michael Jordan. After a tough and impressive victory in Game 1, Jordan and Pippen tore the Jazz apart in Games 2, 3 and 4, shocking the Jazz fans and Quinito Henson. Though the Jazz staved off and cancelled the Madison Street Party in Game 5, it only set up a classic performance that only Jordan can deliver. After injuring his back, Scottie Pippen played gingerly in the 6th game against the Jazz, playing less effective and eventually cost him his Finals MVP. And I’ll leave wikipedia to do the talking for me with this one.

The Bulls returned to Utah for Game 6 on June 14, 1998 leading the series 3–2. Jordan executed a series of plays, considered to be one of the greatest clutch performances in NBA Finals history. With the Bulls trailing 86–83 with 41.9 seconds remaining, Phil Jackson called a timeout. When play resumed, Jordan received the inbound pass, drove to the basket, and hit a layup over several Jazz defenders. The Jazz brought the ball upcourt and passed the ball to forward Karl Malone, who was set up in the low post and was being guarded by Rodman. Malone jostled with Rodman and caught the pass, but Jordan cut behind him and swatted the ball out of his hands for a steal. Jordan then slowly dribbled upcourt and paused at the top of the key, eyeing his defender, Jazz guard Bryon Russell. With fewer than 10 seconds remaining, Jordan started to dribble right, then crossed over to his left, possibly pushing off Russell, although the officials did not call a foul.  Jordan then made the climactic jump shot of his career. After John Stockton missed a desperation 3-pointer, Jordan and the Bulls claimed their sixth NBA championship, and secured a second three-peat. Once again, Jordan was voted the Finals MVP,  having led all scorers by averaging 33.5 points per game, including 45 in the deciding Game 6.

Thanks wikipedia I knew I could rely on you, sometimes.

Just like mentioned above Jordan capped off his magnificent career with the Bulls, winning his 6th Finals MVP and his 6th Championship with Scottie Pippen and Coach Phil Jackson.

Though Jordan came back to the lackluster Washington Wizards, he helped the team to be competitive, at age 39 or 40 he can still outplay and outwit younger guys and even outscore the opposing team’s top scorer and at times shut them down. While fans would like to erase the memory of him playing for Washington, I on the other hand will remember how he torched Cleveland once again just like the way he torched them in 89 AKA The Shot 3. The night he scored 40, his All Star Game classic in 2003. Jordan will always be remembered as a competitor, the tongue sticking, air gliding, rim rattling, fade away making, player he simply is the greatest. Thank you Michael, now stop sucking as an executive.

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