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Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 44-23

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 44-23

This is part of a four-part series looking back at the historic career of Michael Jordan and the legacy he left on the game of basketball. It all leads up to Saturday when we unveil his top 5 moments on his 55th birthday. Here are 55-45.

 

44. Jordan scores in double figures in 788th straight game, passing Kareem, Dec. 30, 1997 (1997)

Beginning March 25, 1986, two days after being held to eight points in 16 minutes, Jordan began an historic run of consecutive games scoring in double figures. On this night Jordan poured in 33 points in a loss to the Timberwolves, giving him 788 straight games with 10 or more points. Jordan’s streak continued into his Washington days, and he ran his record to 866 straight games in double figures until a six-point outing in December 2001. LeBron James, as of this writing, stands at 846 consecutive games in double figures. He could break Jordan’s record in early April.

43. Jordan goes 2-for-5 effort at Wrigley Field in Windy City Classic, April 7, 1994

Jordan didn’t have too many highlights on the diamond, but he did save one of his best efforts playing against the Cubs in Wrigley Field at the Windy City Classic. Jordan singled, doubled and drove in two runs in a 4-4 tie in front of 37,825 at the Friendly Confines. Jordan also committed an error in right field and had a miscue on the base paths misreading a fly ball, but it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see the most famous Chicago athlete playing in the most famous Chicago stadium. OK, back to the basketball.

42. “Be Like Mike” Gatorade campaign launches, Aug. 8, 1991

When Quaker Oats, owners of Gatorade, signed Jordan to a 10-year, $13.5 million endorsement deal, they envisioned His Airness, recently crowned an NBA champion, as leading the charge as the face of the sports drink. Advertising executive Bernie Pitzel originally wanted to have kids looking at Jordan while The Jungle Book’s “I Wan’na Be Like You” played. But Disney wanted too much money - $350,000 – so Pitzel and Gatorade came up with the lyrics and music to “Be Like Mike,” which became one of the most recognizable and memorable advertising campaigns of its time. The rest became history with Jordan and Gatorade.

41. Jordan’s first career triple-double, Jan. 14, 1985

It took Jordan just 38 games to record his first triple-double, and he did it in pretty impressive fashion. Jordan played all but five minutes, scoring 35 points, grabbing 14 rebounds and handing out 15 assists. He shot 11 of 16 from the field, which made him the only player in NBA history to log a 35-10-10 triple-double while shooting 60 percent or better from the field. And no rookie has ever done it since. Jordan hit the 40-point mark seven times as a rookie, but this triple-double may have been the highlight of his Rookie of the Year campaign.

40. Miami Heat retire Jordan’s No. 23 jersey, April 11, 2003

Not only did the Heat retire Jordan’s No. 23 jersey despite him never playing for Miami, they made him the first player in franchise history to receive the honor. Jordan played against the Heat 38 times, averaging 30.1 points on 51 percent shooting. Jordan also did plenty of damage against Riley’s Lakers and Knicks teams, too, and Riley told Jordan at the jersey retirement ceremony, “No one will ever wear No. 23 for the Miami Heat. You’re the best.” Jordan dominated Riley one last time that evening, scoring 25 points in a four-point Wizards win.

39. Jordan wins All-Star MVP with record 40 points at Chicago Stadium, Feb. 7, 1988

Jordan was named All-Star MVP three different seasons (1988, 1996, 1998) but his most memorable weekend came in Chicago. One day after winning arguably the greatest Slam Dunk Contest in league history, Jordan put on a show at Chicago Stadium, scoring 40 points (at that time an ASG record) and grabbing eight rebounds, and he earned MVP honors as the host team for just the 10th time in league history. Since then it’s been done just six other times.

38. Jordan becomes first player 40 or older to score 40 points in a game, Feb. 21, 2003

It’s easy to take Jordan’s longevity for granted. So consider this: When he scored 40 points against the New Jersey Nets in 2003, he became the first 40-year-old to score 30 points in a game. And he tacked on 10 more for good measure! The previous high by a 40-year-old was Kareem Abdul Jabbar, who scored 27 points in 1987. Abdul-Jabbar also scored 26 at age 40, and San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili scored 26 at age 40 in a game earlier this season. Outside of those three instances? Jordan has games of 43, 39, 35, 30, 27, 26 and 26 at age 40. Old man Jordan had plenty of game.

37. Jordan scores a UC-high 55 points vs. the Wizards in the playoffs, April 27, 1997

Jordan did plenty of damage at Chicago Stadium in his early days, and he was a nightmare on the road (just ask the fine folks of New York and Boston). But Jordan’s best night at the United Center came in the postseason when he dropped 55 on the Washington Bullets, shooting 22-for-35, making all 10 free throw attempts and even hitting a 3-pointer. Jordan accounted for more than half of the Bulls’ 109 points in the Game 2 win, and he closed out the Wizards by scoring 20 of the Bulls’ 23 points in the final period.

36. Jordan signs with Nike brand, changes the shoe game forever, Oct. 26, 1984

The history of basketball shoes changed forever when Jordan, who had worn Converse in college and preferred Adidas, signed a reported five-year, $2.5 million deal. Well, Nike wound up selling $70 million worth of Air Jordans in 1985, Tinker Hatfield collaborated with Jordan to produce the most famous basketball shoe line in history and in 1988, the famous Jumpman silhouette was introduced and Jumpman/Air Jordan brand took on a life of its own.

35. Jordan becomes Bulls’ all-time leading rebounder, March 14, 1998

Jordan was known as the league’s best scorer and a lockdown defender, but he also hit the glass well for a 6-foot-6 shooting guard. For his career Jordan averaged 6.2 rebounds per game, peaking in 1989 with 8.0 per game. And he passed Tom Boerwinkle as the Bulls’ all-time leading rebounder with a five-board effort in a win over the Spurs. Jordan remains the all-time leading rebounder in franchise history.

34. Jordan scores 52 in Pippen’s Charity Game, last game ever at Chicago Stadium, Sept. 9 1994

Though he was retired from basketball, Jordan returned to Chicago Stadium one last time to take part in Scottie Pippen’s charity game. Well, His Airness showed he still had it, scoring 52 points on 24 of 46 shooting, with his team beating Pippen’s by 37 points. Jordan said goodbye to the stadium he had won three titles in by kissing the red Bulls logo at midcourt before leaving for the last time. A little more than six months later he would be back to begin a new three-peat inside the United Center.

33. Jordan has jersey stolen, still scores 49 points wearing No. 12, Feb. 14, 1990

And here you thought Kirk Hinrich was the best Bulls player to wear No. 12. Actually it was Jordan, who allegedly had his jersey stolen prior to a game in Orlando. The Bulls didn’t have a backup No. 23 jersey, so instead Jordan was forced to wear a No. 12 jersey with no last name on it. Jordan certainly didn’t seem to mind, as he scored 49 points on 21 of 43 shooting in an overtime loss. Jordan went back to No. 23 the following game, and unlike Tom Brady’s Super Bowl jersey, Jordan’s uni was never recovered. Maybe someone received an awesome Valentine’s Day gift.

32. Jordan tallies first 40-point game, first double-double, Nov. 13, 1984

It didn’t take long for the basketball world to know Jordan was going to be special. In just his ninth NBA game he scored 45 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a win over the Spurs. The only players in league history to score 40+ earlier in their career were Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (seventh career game), John Drew (third game), and Bernard King (seventh). Twenty-five years later Brandon Jennings would score 55 in his seventh career game. Jordan’s 45 and 10 game as a rookie was the first time that had been accomplished since Bob McAdoo in 1973, and Jordan would do it again in February. Since then only Shaquille O’Neal and Blake Griffin have reached those numbers in their first years.

31. Jordan signs with Washington Wizards, Sept. 25, 2001

We’ll get this one over quickly. Jordan returned “to the game I love” after a three-year hiatus in a management/ownership role with the Wizards. Jordan donated his two-year salary to relief efforts following the 9/11 tragedy, and there was cautious optimism he could return to the game and still contribute, considering he had retired after winning a scoring title, the NBA title and league MVP. The Wizards had won just 19 games the previous season but Jordan believed he could help them toward a playoff berth. Ultimately he failed to do so in two seasons, though he did average 21.5 points and make the All-Star Game both years. Moving along.

30. Jordan scores 33 points in Game 6, Bulls become first team in 25 years to three-peat, June 20, 1993

This one could be and should be higher on the list, but it’s tough to space out six titles. Jordan and the Bulls’ first three-peat came against MVP Charles Barkley and the Suns. Amazingly Jordan’s 33 points in the clincher were the second fewest points he scored in the six-game series. The Bulls were the first team since the 60s Celtics to three-peat (they won eight straight from 1959 to 1966), and since then only Jordan’s late 90s Bulls teams and the 2000-2002 Lakers have accomplished a three-peat.

29. Jordan returns to the United Center as an opponent, scoring 16 points, Jan. 19, 2002

Yes, he got the “From North Carolina, 6-6, Michael Jordan” and a minute-long standing ovation from the sellout United Center crowd. But this was almost too surreal, watching Jordan wave to the crowd while the No. 23 banner hung from the rafters. Jordan had played the Bulls once already, but his return to Chicago felt different. He scored 16 points but also missed 14 shots and had nine turnovers in 41 minutes. The Wizards won by eight in an ugly 77-69 affair, with Jordan grabbing the final rebound of the game. In six career games against the Bulls, Jordan averaged 16.2 points on 35.6 percent shooting.

28. Jordan’s “The Showdown” commercial with Larry Bird first airs, Jan. 31, 1993

What would you do for a Big Mac and fries? Well, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird played the greatest sudden death game of P-I-G for this famous McDonald’s commercial. Jordan was in the midst of a three-peat, and a 34-year-old Bird would soon be named to his 11th All-Star Game. And despite all the wild shots, Bird’s declaration of “no dunking” might be the best part. Rumor has it the game’s still going on to this day.

27. Jordan finally gets past the Pistons, May 27, 1991

The Bad Boys in Detroit had been a thorn in Jordan’s side. The Pistons knocked out the Bulls in five games in 1988, six games in 1989 and seven games in 1990. But a revamped Bulls roster and Jordan in the midst of his second MVP season scorched the Pistons in 1991, sweeping the Bad Boys to earn their first Eastern Conference title. Jordan was outstanding, averaging 29.8 points on 54 percent shooting, along with 5.3 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.8 blocks. He was everywhere, and it symbolically marked the passing of the torch from Detroit to Chicago. The Pistons were bounced in the first round the following year and didn’t win another playoff series until 2002. Sorry, Vincent Goodwill.

26. Michael Jordan records his seventh straight triple-double, April 6, 1989

He didn’t make history per se, but Jordan’s run of seven straight triple-doubles was something to behold at the time. In that famous stretch, he averaged 30.6 points, 11.6 rebounds and 11.0 assists in 41.1 minutes. Jordan, of course, then missed a triple-double by three rebounds against the Pistons before reeling off three more in a row, giving him 10 in an 11-game span. The seven straight was second longest to Wilt Chamberlain (nine straight in 1968), and Jordan tied Oscar Robertson’s seven straight in the 60s. Last year Russell Westbrook also had seven straight during a season in which he averaged a triple-double. Still, this was historic stuff from Jordan.

25. Jordan dunks over Mutombo and gives him finger wag in East semifinals, May 13, 1997

Michael Jordan told a rookie Dikembe Mutombo he would be the first to dunk on the 7-foot shot blocker. Jordan might not have been the first to do it six years later, but he might have had the most memorable. As the Bulls were finishing up a five-game series win over the Hawks in the Eastern semifinals, Jordan took a baseline pass from Luc Longley and rose up over Mutombo, who was helping weak side. Jordan flushed home the dunk and sent Mutombo one of his own trademark finger wags. Jordan was T’d up for the trash talk, but the Bulls won by 15 to move on the to the conference finals. Well worth it.

24. Jordan scores 30,000th career point in first game against the Bulls, Jan. 4, 2002

Though it didn’t happen in Chicago, watching Jordan play against the Bulls must have been almost unbelievable. And it didn’t help matters that he accomplished such a significant feat wearing a different uniform. Alas, Jordan became the fifth player in NBA history to reach the 30,000-point mark, joining Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Wilt Chamberlain. Since then Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and LeBron James have joined the club. When asked about the achievement, Jordan simply said: “I take that and move on with it.” The Wizards won by six.

23. Bulls win 72nd game, an NBA record, as Jordan scores 26 in the win, April 21, 1996

A few days earlier the Bulls had become the first team in NBA history to win 70 games. But there was something special about the finished tally: 72. Phil Jackson was getting his players some additional rest for the postseason, but Jordan still managed 26 points in 24 minutes. He added four rebounds, four assists and four steals before a strong performance from the second unit pushed them to a win. The record, of course, was broken by Steph Curry and the Warriors two seasons ago, but Jordan and the Bulls’ 72 wins remain one of the great team accomplishments in NBA history.

Bulls reportedly request to have Asik's contract removed from team salary

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USA TODAY

Bulls reportedly request to have Asik's contract removed from team salary

According to a report from Shams Charania, the Bulls have appealed to have center Omer Asik’s contract removed from the team’s books via the career ending injury or illness provision.

He has been away from the court for some time now, as he has been receiving ongoing medical treatment for inflammatory arthritis. Asik was waived by the Bulls in late October

Asik’s last game was April 11 during the 2017-18 regular season. He played for the Bulls during his first two seasons in the NBA and eventually made his way back to the Bulls as a part of the Nikola Mirotic trade.

If the league approves the Bulls’ request, it would provide Chicago with an additional $3 million is salary cap space. That $3 million would go a decent ways towards helping the Bulls add depth and veteran help to their roster, something John Paxson outlined as a major point of emphasis in his end of season address.

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NBA Draft: What the Bulls would get in Jarrett Culver

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USA TODAY

NBA Draft: What the Bulls would get in Jarrett Culver

The phrase “getting downhill” became somewhat of a buzzword during Jim Bolyen’s first year at the helm. It may not have elicited the same reactions as his “soul and spirit” comments did, but the Bulls had clear instruction to blitz defenses by getting to spots and attacking the basket. The result was the Bulls leading the NBA in drives per game after Dec. 3, when Boylen took over for Fred Hoiberg. They went from 41.9 last season, to 43.3 under Hoiberg this past season to a whopping 55.9 under Boylen.

Personnel certainly played a part, as Kris Dunn averaged 11.7 drives and played just two games for Hoiberg, while an aggressive Lauri Markkanen in February also helped the cause. No matter how you slice it, Boylen likes his guys attacking the rim. The hope is that it eventually leads to kickouts and open 3-pointers, but the Bulls aren’t quite there yet.

They led the NBA in drives per game but were just 15th in points percentage, netting points on just 55.7% of drives (15th best). Despite their pass percentage being 18th in the NBA (they passed after drives 36.4% of the time) they were 28th in assist percentage, with a drive resulting in an assist just 8.3% of the time.

One could surmise that the Bulls need shooters. Instead, we’ll argue today that they should continue to play the drives game. That means going after Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver. The sophomore put together an outstanding year in Lubbock, Tex., averaging 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.4 steals in 38 games. He led the Red Raiders to the NCAA championship game, where they lost in overtime to Virginia.

Culver excelled attacking the rim. Whether it’s using pick-and-rolls, cutting off the ball or using his length in post-up action, Culver was a beast around the rim. Per Synergy Sports, he shot almost 59 percent on 269 attempts around the rim. Though he settles for midrange jumpers at times, he’s got a strong dribble, does a nice job lowering his shoulder and finishes with contact. And again, he plays longer than his listed height. His wingspan will be interesting to see at the Combine as he seemingly hasn’t stopped growing over the last year.

Working in Culver’s favor as far as his NBA prospects are concerned is that he had an excellent season in pick-and-roll action. Though he played 84 percent of his minutes at shooting guard, Culver had 201 pick-and-roll actions. He scored 162 points on those – placing him in the 63rd percentile among all players – and his turnover rate of 14.4% was 18th among the 50 players with 200 or more PnR possessions.

In addition to his ability getting to the basket, Culver is an experienced player who can work off the likes of Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. He’s an apt passer, too, averaging the 3.7 assists off the ball.

Then there’s his defense. Wingspan doesn’t equal good defender, but Culver uses it incredibly well. He’s arguably the second best wing defender in the class behind Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, but he projects as someone who would gibe the Bulls continued versatility to switch. A defense with Wendell Carter, Otto Porter and Culver is a large improvement from 12 months ago.

The Bulls need shooting. Badly. Culver’s outside numbers were ugly, but consider two facts: He shot 38.2 percent from deep as a freshman on nearly the same amount of attempts and his form isn’t broken. He had seven games with three or more 3-pointers, and shot 24 of 45 in those games (53.3%). He’s a smart player and can really get going when he feels it.

If you’ve read to this point, consider Jimmy Butler as an NBA comparison. Not overly fast or athletic, but gets to his spots, is strong attacking the rim, plays solid defense and can catch heat from deep from time to time. The Bulls could use Culver as a sixth man who staggers with Zach LaVine and Otto Porter and gives the Bulls someone to attack on the second unit – Shaq Harrison and Wayne Selden didn’t exactly cut it last season. He’d be a good complement to Chandler Hutchison, too, as another lengthy defender who can play multiple positions.

Culver doesn’t have the ceiling of a Zion, Ja or Barrett. But he’s also got perhaps the highest floor of anyone in the draft. His defense is going to translate and there’s room for a non-point guard who can run pick-and-roll action. He’ll keep the ball moving, which should have him at the top of the Bulls’ draft board. If his 3-point numbers get back to where he was as a freshman, he has All-Star potential. Defenses may sag in on him at the pro level, which could make attacking the rim more difficult. But even if that’s the case, he’ll still work well off the ball as a cutter.

His skills translate as someone who can play right away. That’s what the Bulls need after an injury-riddled 28-win campaign didn’t really move the rebuild forward. It’s time to take a step forward, and Culver gives them the best chance to do so if they aren’t lucky enough to move up in the Lottery.