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News » NBA BEAT 2009-09-11


NBA BEAT 2009-09-11


NBA BEAT 2009-09-11Tonight in Springfield, Michael Jordan will keep an appointment he made more than 20 years ago.

It was evident when he first entered the NBA that he would be good. OK, VERY good. And once he dropped 63 points on the Celtics in the 1986 playoffs, the Hall of Fame had to know it would someday be setting its table for one more. It would take a bit longer before folks would start including him in their Greatest Player Ever discussions - and feel free to have at it, if you like. At this point, you can make a case for different people, but it is required that Michael be mentioned.

The package that is Jordan is stamped in the psyche not just by the great moments but also by the marketing element that made him a star to those who didn't even watch the NBA . Remember those Converse ads Larry Bird and Magic Johnson did back in the 1980s? They now seem like vinyl records on a turntable compared to Jordan's commercials.

But let's bring this back to Basketball. It is important to examine Michael Jordan piece-by-piece to understand why he will take his ceremonial place with the game's greatest tonight.

First of all, he wasn't the greatest shooter. His outside shot was perhaps the weakest part of his game when he arrived in the NBA in 1984, and Larry would have gladly given him his old ``Shoot for money?'' invitation.

Jordan wasn't the greatest of leapers. The NBA has had others who could climb higher. And the more hoop-addicted among us will tell you about a guy who never got to the league - Herman ``Helicopter'' Knowings.

Michael may not even have been the best dunker in NBA history. We've seen some pretty wild stuff in the annual slam dunk contest over the years.

Others could dribble better than Jordan, and there have been better rebounders and defenders.

So why do many insist he's simply the best ever? Because he could perform more aspects of the game at the highest level than perhaps anyone and - here is the key - Michael Jordan NEEDED to win.

You take some of the greatest athleticism that's graced the court and combine it with an aggressive obsession to command every moment, and you have a guy who blew out the windows on the Hall of Fame entry exam as he roared on by.

Doc Rivers was both impressed and skeptical when he initially saw Michael.

``I remember seeing him for the first time and being really kind of amazed that he was playing at such a high level of energy and power,'' the Celtics coach said. ``That's what stood out to me. It was early in the year, and I remember telling Dominique (Wilkins) and the guys on the Hawks that by mid-year he was going to be done.

``I was saying the same thing 12 years later,'' Doc added with a laugh. ``But he just never stopped. It was remarkable. You have great players now who tell you they can only give it to you on one end of the court because they have to conserve their energy. But Michael played hard on defense, too. I think people miss that because of how great he was with the ball. But he just played hard all the time.''

And Jordan was hard on his teammates, as well. He didn't understand Scottie Pippen's headaches or really anything about Brad Sellers. He punched Steve Kerr. It wasn't until Michael came to grips - grudgingly - with the fact that others did not have his talent or his fire that he was able to start collecting championships.

There is a place that our society sends those whose obsessions strain beyond the bounds of a healthy mind, those with a willingness to use whatever means necessary to succeed. That would be the Hall of Fame.

- sbulpett@bostonherald.com

GRAPHIC: MICHAEL'S HIGHLIGHT REEL:

Compiling a list of Michael Jordan's greatest hits is a rather difficult proposition. Bob Seger may have said it best in ``Against the Wind'' ... What to leave in/what to leave out.

But here are 10 moments that should warm your memory.

1. Date: March 29, 1982

Place: New Orleans, La.

Opponent: Georgetown

Michael sticks a 15-foot jumper to get North Carolina past the Hoyas in the NCAA championship game.

2. Date: April 20, 1986

Place: Boston Garden

Opponent: Celtics

In a 135-131 overtime loss, he goes for 63 points. Larry Bird says it was ``God disguised as Michael Jordan.'' No one accuses him of blasphemy.

3. Date: May 7, 1989

Place: Richfield, Ohio

Opponent: Cavaliers

Craig Ehlo can't hang long enough with Michael, whose floating jumper from the foul line at the buzzer gives the Bulls a 101-100 victory over the Cavaliers in the final game of their first-round playoff series.

4. Date: June 12, 1991

Place: Inglewood, Calif

Opponent: Lakers

Michael goes for 30 points and 10 assists (and five steals) as the Bulls finish the Lakers in five games to win their first NBA title.

5. Date: June 3, 1992

Place: Chicago

Opponent: Trail Blazers

Shrugs before hugs. Jordan torches the Blazers for 35 points in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. The lasting memory is of Michael - after hitting his sixth 3-pointer of the game - turning to the sideline and offering an ``I don't know how they're all going in either'' shrug.

6. Date: April 8, 1994

Place: Hoover, Ala.

Opponent: Chattanooga

The list of greatest hits includes Michael's 0-for-3 in his first professional baseball game for the Birmingham Barons. Nearly four months later - after more than 350 at-bats - he would hit his first home run.

7. Date: March 28, 1995

Place: New York

Opponent: Knicks

Shortly after retiring from baseball and un-retiring from the NBA , Michael proclaims ``I'm baa-aack'' by dropping 55 points on the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.

8. Date: Feb. 9, 1997

Place: Cleveland

Opponent: West All-Stars

OK, it's just an All-Star Game that no one takes completely seriously, but Jordan posts the first triple-double in the event's history with 14 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

9. Date: June 11, 1997

Place: Salt Lake City

Opponent: Jazz

Sick with the flu, Michael makes Utah ill with 38 points. Two days later, he goes for 39 to close out the Jazz for the title.

10. Date: June 14, 1998

Place: Salt Lake City

Opponent: Jazz

Jordan scores 45 points, but few remember any of the first 43. The coup de grace is a jumper over Bryon Russell (did Michael push off?) in the final seconds as the Bulls win by a point and take their sixth NBA title.

- COMPILED BY STEVE BULPETT


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 11, 2009

 

 
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