Michael Jordan Enshrined In Basketball Hall Of Fame – The Hall Of Fame enshrinement ceremony has just concluded. As I begin to write the second of two parts for this piece, it’s difficult to say the least, how to determine which moments/dates in his career to include in this article because they were so numerous. However, here are some of the most memorable moments that come to mind from the years 1993-1998.
October 6, 1993 – First Retirement:
A bittersweet moment for Chicago Bulls fans everywhere. After one of the most grueling seasons of his career along with the death of his father, “Jordan” decided that it was his time to move away from the game of basketball. In his news conference, he mentioned having a feeling that he had nothing left to prove as a player and that he had accomplished all that he had set out to do at the time. While fans across the nation were devastated at this news, you couldn’t help but be happy for him as seemed to be at peace with his decision.
March 19, 1995 – Jordan Returns Against Pacers:
After trying his hand at baseball unsuccessfully, the fire for basketball began to burn inside “Jordan” and he would return to the game he loved after an 18-month hiatus. “Jordan” would make his return against Reggie Miller and the Indiana Pacers. “Jordan” would only connect on 7 of his 28 shot attempts for 19 points but what can you expect after such a lengthy layoff, right?
May 19, 1995 – Poof, They’re Gone:
The Orlando Magic were up 3-2 in this best of 7 Eastern Conference second round matchup needing a win to send them to the next round. The Bulls would find themselves up by 8 points and seemingly moments away from forcing a game 7 back in Orlando. However, the game-closing capability that Jordan once possessed throughout the years was no longer there. Orlando would force “Jordan” into bad shots and turnovers down the stretch. The Magic would end the game on a 14-0 run to close the game out 108-102 and would end “Jordan’s” comeback and the victory sent a “Jordan” lead Bulls team home for the season. This feat had not been accomplished since the Pistons defeated Chicago in game 7 back in 1990. Needless to say an air of uncertainty hovered over the team heading into the next season.
April 16, 1996 Bulls Set NBA Records For Most Wins:
“Jordan” would lead the Bulls with a modest 22 points to help the Bulls record their 70th victory of the season against the Milwaukee Bucks. The win would eclipse the Lakers’ victory total of 69 set nearly 25 years earlier. “Jordan” and the Bulls would end the season with a 72-10 record. While the accomplish was remarkable, the consensus amongst the team was that “72-10 wouldn’t mean a thing without a ring.”
May 28, 1996 – Bulls Avenge Playoff Loss To Magic:
The young talented Orlando Magic team had knocked “Jordan” and the Bull out of the playoffs a year ago. It would only be fair that “Jordan” would earn a shot a redemption against Shaquille O’Neal and the boys from Orlando. The Bulls blew the Magic out in game 1, came back from 18 points to steal game 2, and drubbed the Magic at home 96-67 in game 3. While the Magic were looking to extend the series, “Jordan” and the Bulls had other plans. “Jordan” had only scored 17 points in the game 3 blowout but game 4 would be a totally different story. Looking like the “Jordan” of old, he would torch the upstart Magic for 45 points going 16 of 23 from the field and 10 of 14 from the charity stripe. The victory would end not only the Magic’s season but it would also turn out to be O’Neal’s last game in a Magic uniform, as he would be traded to the Lakers during that summer.
June 17, 1996 – Bulls Return To League’s Elite
After taking the first three games of the series from the Sonics the Bulls were humbled in games 4 and 5 to say the least. “Jordan” and the Bulls would suffer back-to-back playoff games losses for the first time during their championship run and the series returned to the United Center for game 6. It would take nearly the entire game to do so, but Chicago would eventually put the game out of reach in the final period as “Jordan” and Bulls captured their fourth title in six seasons. For “Jordan” it was a season long process of redemption that began with the heart-breaking playoff loss to the Magic a year ago. “Jordan” was rightfully overcome with emotion as the victory took place on Father’s Day and I’m sure that he missed his father being by his side as he had been through previous triumphs.
Game 1 1997 NBA Finals – Jordan Nails Game Winner:
Karl Malone had won the league’s most valuable award and had a chance to put the Jazz up by two points in the final seconds. Malone would miss the first free throw and the second free throw attempt would spin out as well. “Jordan” as he had done so many times throughout his career would take and make the game winning shot from the left wing over Bryan Russell to give the Bulls an 84-82 victory.
Game 5 1997 NBA Finals – Jordan Carries Bulls To Victory:
The Bulls and Jazz were all even after four games and Utah clearly was riding a wave of momentum coming into this pivotal game 5. It was reported that “Jordan” was suffering from flu-like symptoms earlier in the day and I can remember Peter Vecsey saying that the Bulls would lose game 5 without a healthy “Jordan”. The Jazz would jump out to a huge 16-point lead in the game and an eight-point lead in the 3rd period, but “Jordan” would keep the Bulls in contention throughout the contest. The key sequence of the game came on an offensive rebound by the Bulls off a missed free throw. Jordan would grab the rebound and feed the ball to Pippen in the post who was being guarded by a smaller Hornacek. Russell would come over to double team leaving “Jordan” wide open and he would nail a three-pointer to give the Bulls an 88-85 lead with under 40 seconds remaining. The Bulls would go on to win the game 90-88 behind 38 points from “Jordan”. The Bulls would win the series in six games giving the franchise its fifth title.
Game 6 1998 Finals – Jordan And Bulls Capture 6th Championship:
The Bulls failed to eliminate the Jazz at home in game 5 as Jordan’s desperation heave from near half court fell harmlessly short in the waning seconds. The Jazz would find themselves up by three points (86-83) late in the final period. “Jordan” easily scored on Hornacek from the right block in the post to cut the Jazz lead to one. The Jazz would feed the ball into Malone who was guarded by Dennis Rodman. As Malone began to make his move against Rodman, “Jordan” would come from Malone’s blind side and strip the ball and began making his way toward the other end. With Russell guarding him, “Jordan” would give Russell a slight nudge and elevate and nail yet another clutch jump shot, fully extending his arms in the follow through to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead. The Jazz would have one last attempt but Stockton’s jumper from the top of the key would rim out and “Jordan” and the Bulls were again champions of the league. “Jordan” scored 45 points in the series clincher and would capture his sixth Finals MVP award. “Jordan” would later retired on January 13, 1999.
While I have referenced various number of highlights in these two articles, they don’t really do “Jordan” justice. What made him great on the court was a result of things that motivated him off the court. He mentioned in his acceptance speech that he would look for any little thing to motivate him and how family, friends, opponents, and even opposing coaches helped add logs to the fire that burned within him to be the best. Needless to say he accomplished that and so much more. So I would like to conclude this article by saying Congratulations Michael on your induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame. It is an honor that is truly well deserved.
“After a Few Anxious Days, Jordan and Bulls Get Their Title”, Clifton Brown
“Bulls Burst In the Air As Magic Moves On”, Mike Wise
“Chicago Bulls make NBA history as first team to win 70 games in a season”
“Jordan Wields the Broom as Bulls Sweep the Magic”, Mike Wise