Top 10 moments that made us fall in love with Michael Jordan
10. Pick 'em
Yeah, we’re cheating. Is No. 10 Jordan’s career-high 69 points in a March 29, 1990 overtime victory in Cleveland? Or is it his stint with the original Dream Team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, which earned him his second gold medal? Again, that's the beauty of Michael Jordan. Too many choices.
9. The Shrug - June 3, 1992
Never known as a 3-point shooter, Jordan impressed even himself with his unlikely barrage from distance during Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals at Chicago Stadium. He sank six 3-pointers en route to 35 first-half points (35!) and offered up an iconic shrug after the last one fell though the net. As with most things Jordan, the performance sent a message to those who believed Portland Trail Blazers star Clyde Drexler should’ve won the regular season MVP instead of Jordan. Welcome to the Finals, Clyde the Glide.
8. Retirement No. 1 - Oct. 6, 1993
At a Berto Center news conference that confirmed rumours circulating at a White Sox playoff game the night before, Jordan stunned the world by stepping down from his throne. The shocking move came four months after Chicago's first three-peat and 2.5 months after Jordan’s father was murdered in a roadside robbery. Jordan, honored his father by trying to play baseball and said it meant a lot to him that his father saw his last basketball game. For now.
7. The Switcheroo - June 5, 1991
A tense crowd packed Chicago Stadium after the Bulls lost homecourt advantage in Game 1 of their first NBA Finals appearance. Jordan eased anxiety in the fourth quarter of Game 2. Rising for a right-handed layup, he navigated the long-armed defense of Los Angeles Lakers big man Sam Perkins, switched to his left hand and kissed the ball off the backboard on the other side. NBC play-by-play man Marv Albert erupted with: “Oh! A spectacular move by Michael Jordan!” Jordan finished with 33 points and 13 assists in the Bulls’ victory.
6. NCAA Title - March 29, 1982
This is where a skinny freshman named Mike Jordan began his legacy, calmly sinking a wing jumper with 15 seconds left to seal legendary North Carolina coach Dean Smith’s first NCAA title over Georgetown.
5. God in disguise - April 20, 1986
The Boston Celtics’ top-ranked defense proved no match for a performance for the ages. Jordan scored 63 points in a double-overtime loss at the Boston Garden, prompting Larry Bird to call him “God disguised as Michael Jordan” after Game 2 of their first-round playoff series. This is the season Jordan broke a bone in his left foot and argued with ownership and management about wanting to return early. Perhaps this performance was fueled by pent-up rage.
4. The Flu Game - June 11, 1997
So many of these moments are centered on enduring images. And who can forget the sight of Jordan collapsing into the arms of Scottie Pippen as they trudged off the court during a late timeout of another masterpiece? Thanks to some bad pizza consumed the night before and a sleepless night, Jordan needed every ounce of energy to play 44 minutes and post 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals... And sink the game-clinching 3-pointer. Two nights after this gritty Game 5 road win, the Bulls eliminated the Jazz to close out their fifth title at the United Center.
3. The Shot - May 7, 1989
Jordan received an inbounds pass from Brad Sellers, ascended for a foul line jumper on which he seemingly hung in the air forever and rattled home a buzzer-beating game-winning shot as Cavaliers wing Craig Ehlo sunk in despair. The do-or-die shot in Game 5 of the first-round series set off pandemonium. Jordan punched the air, coach Doug Collins ran around the court in jubilation, announcer Red Kerr yelped for joy on the broadcast. It also marked the Bulls as serious contenders.
2. The First Title - June 12, 1991
Every dynasty has to start somewhere. And this first championship didn’t feel like destiny when the Lakers came to town and stole Game 1 at Chicago Stadium. The Bulls stormed back to win four straight, with Jordan heeding coach Phil Jackson’s advice to pass out of double-teams to an open John Paxson in Game 5 clincher. At age 28 and in his seventh season, Jordan broke through. The image of a weeping Jordan clutching the championship trophy with his father, James, by his side would become even more significant in the years to come.
1. The Pose - June 14, 1998
This is how many people remember Jordan. Arm extended, follow-through held, go-ahead basket made. Who cares if he pushed off Utah’s Bryon Russell or not? This is the master doing what he almost always did — delivering when needed the most. The fact that this iconic shot to seal the Bulls’ sixth championship in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals came after he stripped Jazz All-Star Karl Malone at the other end is testament to Jordan’s two-way dominance. Is now the time to mention he scored 45 points?