If I close my eyes and listen closely, I can still hear it. The music is pumping and the lights
are low. The crowd is getting louder by the second. And then the public address announcer starts to yell, “And nowÃ¢Â?Â¦from North CarolinaÃ¢Â?Â¦a 6’6″ guardÃ¢Â?Â¦#23…Michael Jordan!” The crowd goes nuts and the greatest athlete of all-time takes the floor.
I had the privilege of seeing Michael Jordan play in person on three separate occasions. The first time was in New York at Madison Square Garden against my beloved Knicks in 1988. The next was in Chicago against the Charlotte Hornets in the 1995 playoffs. The final time was at Michael Jordan’s last NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta in 2003. Each time, my seats got better and the crowds got louder.
Michael Jordan’s awards alone are staggering: six NBA Championships, five NBA MVP Awards, six NBA Finals MVP Awards, thirteen All-Star Appearances, and ten NBA scoring titles. Michael Jordan even won an NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and made the NBA All-Defensive First Team a record nine times.
The awards and championships don’t tell the whole story though. In order to fully appreciate Michael Jordan’s athletic prowess, you had to see him play. You had to see the spectacular things he did on the basketball court. Like the time he did the lean in dunk at the NBA dunk contest. If you watch that dunk in slow motion, it looks like he really is flying. He followed that up by dunking from the foul line ala Dr. J. Not to mention the time he did the cradle dunk with his tongue wagging on a breakaway at Madison Square Garden. That dunk was during a live game and not a dunk contest. It brought the Madison Square Garden faithful to their feet to cheer for Michael Jordan even though he was on the opposing team. The cradle dunk has been immortalized in the form of a poster.
Michael Jordan made countless game winning shots throughout his career. He hit a game winning buzzer beater against Cleveland in the NBA playoffs. He nailed the game winning jumper to beat Utah in game 7 of the NBA Finals. Michael Jordan became a household name when he sank the game winning jump shot against Georgetown to win the NCAA Championship. There was also the time that Michael Jordan dropped a double nickel of 55 points on the Knicks in his first Madison Square Garden appearance after coming back from retirement. He won that game also, but he did it with an assist. Everyone expected Michael Jordan to take the game winning shot, but instead he passed to a wide-open Bill Wennington for an easy dunk to win the game.
Some athletes have great athletic talent and physical skill. Some are very competitive and have a tremendous work ethic. Rarely, do you get an athlete with the best physical skills and also the hardest work ethic. Michael Jordan had both, the talent and the work ethic. During his NBA career, Michael Jordan had it all. He could jump through the roof. He was fast and quick. He worked his tail off to continue to get better. Michael Jordan played as hard and as well on defense as he did on offense. Very few NBA stars have a defensive game that matches their offensive prowess. However, Michael Jordan did everything on both ends of the court. MJ could block shots, get steals, drive to the lane, dunk over defenders, shoot from the outside, knock down free throws, and dish spectacular assists. He was not just a human highlight film either. Michael Jordan was a champion who won it all in college, the pros, and even the Olympics. He even played minor league baseball and is almost a scratch golfer. Simply put, Michael Jordan is a living legend and the greatest athlete the world has ever seen.