Bulls

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 55-45

Michael Jordan's Greatest Moments: 55-45

Over the next four days we'll be 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.

55. Jordan becomes first player to record ASG triple-double, Feb. 9, 1997

Jordan received nearly 2.5 million votes – more than 500,000 more than Charles Barkley – and was named an All-Star starter for the 10th time. He didn’t disappoint the Cleveland fan base, contributing everywhere with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in 26 minutes. He didn’t earn MVP honors – Glen Rice’s then-record 20-point third quarter earned him the award – but Jordan made history. Since then, only LeBron James (2011), Dwyane Wade (2012) and Kevin Durant (2017) have logged triple-doubles, and all needed more than Jordan’s 26 minutes to do so.

54. Jordan makes blind free throw, taunting rookie Dikembe Mutombo, Nov. 23, 1991

Jordan was putting the finishing touches on a masterpiece against the hapless Nuggets when he stepped to the line with 3.5 seconds remaining. Chuckling, Jordan listened as rookie Dikembe Mutombo attempted some last-minute trash talk. Jordan calmly sank the first free throw and then told the rookie to “watch this.” He closed his eyes, rose up and sunk the second free throw. The two shared a high five walking off the court, Jordan the victor having gone for 37 points and a perfect 7-for-7 from the stripe.

53.  NBA Board approves Jordan’s purchase of the Charlotte Bobcats, March 17, 2010

Jordan made history even after his playing days, becoming the first ex-player in NBA history to become a majority owner of a team. His $275 million bid to buy the Charlotte Hornets was unanimously approved, a steep price consider the six-year-old Bobcats had one winning season and zero playoff series wins. Today the Charlotte franchise – now the Hornets – is still under Jordan’s control, and while they’re still in search of their first playoff series win they’re now valued by Forbes at $1.05 billion

52. Jordan drops 51 points on Knicks while spatting with Jeff Van Gundy, Jan. 21, 1997

Knicks head coach Jeff Van Gundy poked the bear by accusing Jordan of softening up players by befriending them before trying to destroy them on the court. Well, Jordan read the quotes in the newspaper and responded by scoring 51 points on 18-for-30 shooting, five 3-pointers and 10-for-11 from the free throw line. He scored 12 of the Bulls’ 14 fourth-quarter points – including their final eight – in an 88-87 victory, and told reporters after the game “I guess I didn’t make any friends out there tonight.”

51. Jordan passes Bob Love to become Bulls’ all-time leading scorer, Jan. 26, 1990

Jordan entered his sixth NBA season needing 1,360 points to pass Love as the all-time leading scorer. He wasted no time getting there, scoring 54 points on Opening Night and averaging 33.3 points through 40 games. That put him 29 points away from Love’s record as the Bulls traveled to Philadelphia against a Sixers team that had held him to 16 points the previous month. But Jordan wasn’t denied making history, scoring 31 points in a losing effort. Jordan, of course, added to that all-time mark, finishing his Bulls’ career with 29,277 career points. Now we wait and see how long it takes for Lauri Markkanen to topple it.

50. Space Jam released in theaters, Nov. 15, 1996

Jordan took his talents to the big screen, teaming up with Warner Bros. on a full-length film featuring the NBA star attempting to get his friends’ basketball talent back while still retired. He joins forces with Bugs and Daffy Duck to battle Swackhammer and the Monstars, and between Bill Murray and Larry Bird cameos, R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” and Jordan ultimately winning the final game on a ridiculous dunk from half court, this movie had it all. It made $230 million at the box office and much more in merchandise. And no, we don’t expect a sequel involving LeBron James coming anytime soon.

49. Jordan scores a historic 61 points to finish the year with 3,000 points, April 16, 1987

With four games left in the regular season Jordan needed 137 points to become the second player in league history to score 3,000 points in a season. He began with 53 against the Pacers, then the next night went for 50 in Milwaukee. Three days later he scored 61 points, including 23 straight, against the Hawks to surpass the 3,000-point milestone. In the process he became the first since Wilt Chamberlain to reach that, and he also became the first since Wilt to score 50+ in three straight games. No player has topped 3,000 points since…Jordan never did again, either. In fact, the closest player to Wilt and Michael’s 3,000-point club was Kobe Bryant, who had 2,832 in 2005-06.

48. Jordan becomes oldest player in NBA history to score 50 points in a game, Dec. 29, 2001

In his first of two seasons with the Wizards, Jordan averaged 22.9 points, but what he did right before New Year’s Day was simply remarkable. The 38-year-old (and 315 days) poured in 51 points, making 21 of 38 shots in 38 minutes. Twenty-four of those came in the first quarter when he made nine of his first 11 attempts. He cooled off after that (relatively speaking), adding 10 in the second, 11 in the third and a respectable six in the fourth before sitting the final 3:08. He topped Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s 46-point outing at age 38 in 1986, and no one has even come close to Jordan’s 51 spot. And the best part? Two days later Jordan scored 45 points in a win over the Nets.

47. “The Chicago Bulls pick Michael Jordan, from the University of North Carolina,” June 19, 1984

Those famous words from Commissioner David Stern changed the face of the Bulls franchise, and the game of basketball, forever. After the Rockets selected Akeem Olajuwon with the first pick the Blazers opted for Kentucky center Sam Bowie, leaving the Bulls with the chance to select the 6-foot-6 shooting guard who had just won a national championship under Dean Smith. Said Jordan on draft night, “I just want to go in and contribute the best way I could.” Safe to say he did just that.

46. Jordan drops 33 in Game 6 as the Bulls win back-to-back titles

We’re going out of order here, but roll with it. The Bulls proved they weren’t just a flash in a pan after their first title, rolling through the Eastern Conference before making quick work of the Blazers in six games. Jordan’s Game 5 will always be the memorable one, but 33 points on 54 percent shooting in a closeout game ain’t half bad, either. Jordan finished the series with averages of 35.8 points on 53 percent shooting, 43 percent from deep and 89 percent from the foul line. It was then that the talk of a potential dynasty began festering…

45. Jordan scores 15 points against Sixers in last NBA game, April 16, 2003

Jordan’s third retirement wound up being his final one. Jordan scored 15 points, grabbed four rebounds and handed out four assists in 28 minutes, including re-entering the game with 3 minutes remaining a sellout Sixers crowd chanted “We want Mike.” Jordan entered the game and made a pair of free throws with 1:45 remaining. He was then subbed out for Tyronn Lue, ending an illustrious, Hall of Fame, and Greatest of All-Time career.

Carlos Boozer says Nate Robinson was one of his favorite teammate because 'he would bring snacks to every flight'

Carlos Boozer says Nate Robinson was one of his favorite teammate because 'he would bring snacks to every flight'

Carlos Boozer and Nate Robinson only played one season together with the Bulls. But oh, what a memorable campaign it was.

And it produced a friendship that still lasts to this day. Cupcakes and snacks will do just that.

Boozer retold a story to NBC Sports Chicago on Tuesday of Robinson and his daughter, Navyi, baking cupcakes for Bulls players on road trips.

"We had so much fun. Me and Nate hit it off right away," Boozer said. "We're both very animated, we're both very loud, we talk a lot, we're great teammates. We love playing passionately, we compete.

"Nate is one of the best teammates I ever had. I played my whole life, I've been playing a long time and he's the only teammate that would bring snacks to every flight. And we'd travel on the road, he would bake us cupcakes for every road game. I never had that before.

"Him and his daughter, Navyi, would bake the cupcakes before every road game. So every road game we'd get to the plane and Nate would hook us up with cupcakes.

"Just a great teammate. He'd go through a brick wall for you, never complained, practice every day, play every day, ready to come and give it his best."

Boozer and Robinson will face off against each other during the Big3 Tournament, which begins this weekend in Houston. The league will travel to Chicago and the United Center on June 29.

"I'm looking forward to being in Chicago," Boozer said. "We've got a lot of great fans out there. I miss the (United Center), miss that Chicagotime summer weather and looking forward to getting back out there in a couple weeks."

Boozer's Ghost Ballers and Robinson's Tri-State team won't square off against one another until Week 5 in Miami. But it's sure to be a fun matchup for the two friends and snack buddies.

"He's one of my brothers, one of my closest friends," Boozer said. "Nate has been training like an animal and he's gonna use this platform to show everybody how much skills he has, also to get back into the NBA. Nate's a great talent and I'm looking forward to seeing him get down."

Boozer's team includes co-captains Mike Bibby and Ricky Davis, which gives them a pretty solid trio heading into the event. But no teammate, NBA or Big3, can match Nate Rob and his cupcakes.

Check out more on the Big3 right here.

Scottie Pippen's injury history sheds light on what could be ahead for Michael Porter Jr.

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USA TODAY

Scottie Pippen's injury history sheds light on what could be ahead for Michael Porter Jr.

By now you probably know the story of Michael Porter Jr.'s back. Right as his college basketball career was starting—two minutes in to be exact—he had to sit out with back pain, which eventually developed into Porter undergoing a microdiscectomy of the L3-L4 spinal discs. The general consensus has been simple: if Porter's medicals are clean then he is a potential top-five pick, but if there is a lack of medical information or any indication that lingering issues persist, he will be available at picks six through the late lottery. Regardless of how his medical records look, what we do know is that Porter was the top-ranked player in his high school class before the eventual re-classification of Marvin Bagley. With this in mind, any team in need of serious star power—hello Bulls!—should have no problems spending a high pick on Porter, and Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen is a big reason why.

In July of 1988, Pippen has disc surgery following a rookie season that was plagued by constant back pain. During that rookie season Pippen played just over 20 minutes a night and played in a total of 79 games.

While the late 80's didn't have the help of NBA Twitter to breathe doubt into fans, there was still a running sentiment that Pippen may not be effective as he was during his initial NBA season. But in his sophomore NBA year, he almost doubled his scoring total while raising his free throw percentage from 57.6 percent to 66.8 percent. On top of this, Pippen also increased his workload by playing 33.1 minutes per game. Altogether he increased his field goal and free throw percentage each of his first four seasons in the league, all following his rookie year back surgery.

This however, should not come as a shock. In an interview with SB Nation, Dr. Charla Fischer, a spine surgeon at NYU Langone Health, stated: "Most patients tell me they feel at least 50 to 80 percent better immediately after the surgery." 

Players typically take two seasons to return to form following herniated disc surgery, and that is right in line with Pippen's first All-Star appearance in 1990, about one and a half seasons following his procedure. When you relate this back to Porter, a clearer picture of what to expect forms. Because Porter has already missed an entire season of basketball (at Missouri), it figures to take about a year for him to totally regain the explosivness that he showcased at the high school level. 

Pippen averaged 14.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.1 apg, along with a combined 1.9 stl/blks per game in the season following his back procedure. Now it would be unreasonable to expect Porter to come into the NBA performing at that level, but more so because of his lack of all-around polish more than anything else. And that is what makes Porter such a conundrum. He is a player whose game—as of now—is totally based on scoring, and his scoring is directly tied to how close he is to 100 percent. So again, developing the rest of his game in terms of passing and defense will take on everlasting importance, regardless of if he ends up with Chicago or another team. 

And while it is true that Pippen's injury history eventually caught up with him, leading to another back surgery in 1998, this was six NBA championships later. Pip went on to play six more seasons following his 1998 procedure. This included four seasons with Portland where the team routinely won around 50 games, and had a legendary battle with the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2000 Western Conference Finals.

So no matter what, Porter's first year should be looked at as one very, very long training camp. He will be in the best position to succeed if he is selected by a team willing to look at him as a long-term piece, rather than a 6-foot, 11-inch savior.