For twenty-five storied years, Michael J. Jordan swooshed, slammed, squealed, scorched, and scuffed his way into hoops history. Many have tried to walk in his footsteps, but few could ever fill those Size 219 Nike Air Jordans®. Here we rank the ten defining moments from the long and prolific career of The Greatest Ever.
10. BIRTH OF A LEGEND (Chicago Bulls vs. Potomac Pandas, Mar. 31, 1981)
Jordan's very first game is the stuff of mythology. Never before had a player appeared so dominant, scoring 1,100 points to help his team defeat the reigning NBA champions 1,102 to 10. Most awe-inspiring was the first appearance of Jordan's Robo-Stilts, which no player had ever used before, and which helped him tower thirty feet above his opponents, where he could simply drop the ball into the basket with no interference.
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9. HERE COMES THE SUPERJUMP (Chicago Bulls vs. Abilene Acorns, Feb. 1, 1983)
Fans in attendance at Chicago's Peter Cetera Stadium couldn't believe their eyes when Jordan, in the middle of the second quarter, unveiled what would become his trademark move. Leaping 200 feet into the air with a jump that spanned the entire court, Jordan gained enough momentum to not only shatter the fiberglass backboard, but to actually put a crater into the floor of the stadium akin to that of a small meteor. Subsequent Super Jumps would cost NBA stadiums millions of dollars in repair work, but the fans ate it up like Denver Omelettes (except at Mork & Mindy Stadium, home of the Denver Omelettes, Jordan's bitterest rival).
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8. A REAL TROOPER (Chicago Bulls vs. Sanibel Island Sour Patch Kids, October 19, 1985)
Suffering from the flu and a mild strain of leukemia, Jordan showed up for practice this day in a sorry state. His doctors urged him to sit on the bench and continue his chemotherapy, but the King of Smash soldiered on, scoring a record 2,200 points in the second half. "Nothing can slow me down because I have a positive attutude," he said after the game. "When life gives you leukemia, make leukemiade."
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7. SHOWDOWN WITH AN ICON (Chicago Bulls vs. The Flash, May 7, 1987)
After evildoer The Spellcaster put the entire Chicago Bulls under his sway in the final game of the 1987 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, super-speedster The Flash was called in to do battle with the team and return them to their normal dispositions. An ill-tempered Jordan, temporarily evil because of the spell, fought dirty and faced down his hero, for it was The Flash who inspired Jordan to go into basketball in the first place. At the last moment, The Flash was able to run around Jordan counter-clockwise fast enough to turn back the clock and reinstate the King's normal heroic spirit. Unfortunately, The Bulls were not able to beat The Flash in overtime, and he went on to win the playoffs.
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6. GRACE IN TRAGEDY (Death vs. James Jordan, July 23, 1993)
When Michael's beloved father James was killed by Death for some bad bets, Jordan could not have shown more class. Speaking to the press after the game against the Tokyo Tacos that night, Jordan solemnly dedicated the victory to his father, and said that he had made $100,000 in illegal bets on the game in honor of the man who brought him into the world. Investigators were touched, and declined to arrest Michael, though he did get a warning for public indecency when it was discovered that his 90-inch penis had sprung from its normal buttressing and fallen out the pantleg of his game shorts.
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5. THIS ONE'S FOR THE KIDS (Michael Jordan vs. Douglass Elementary, June 25, 1994)
Jordan really showed what he was made of with his biggest victory ever: 130,002 to 0 over a group of third-graders who had challenged him to a pick-up game after spotting Jordan walking near their playground. An inspired Jordan pulled out every trick in the book to produce the most gigantic trouncing the basketball world had never known.
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4. TAKE HIM OUT TO THE BALLGAME! (Chicago White Sox vs. Houston Hamburgers With Everything, September 8, 1995)
In 1995, Jordan made a decision that left fans and press alike incredulous: He was going to try his hand at baseball! Even more stupefying was that he was excellent at it, quickly running up a home run tally that put him in the top sluggers ever to play the sport. It helped considerably that, owing to an obscure rule in the by-laws of inter-sport play, Jordan was credited with two home runs for each one he hit, since as a basketball player that was what he was accustomed to.
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3. I'M NOT TIRED
I'M RE-TIRED! (Michael Jordan vs. Denny's Restaurant, July 10, 1998)
Michael's retirement from basketball put an end to the Chicago Bulls dynasty, much as his retirement from imperial leadership of China had put an end to the Ming Dynasty. In retirement, it was clear that MJJ had unfinished business, as he quickly settled into a brutal rivalry with a local restaurant where he would eat every afternoon, playing prank after prank. The feud culminated in an astounding victory by Jordan when he used a series of Super Jumps to outfox the manager, who was chasing him around with a bottle of catsup into which Jordan had playfully dropped a tampon.
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2. DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK (Washington Weirdos vs. Mechagodzilla, January 29, 2000)
Jordan's "second" stretch in basketball, as general manager, forward, and usher for Washington in the early 2000s, may not have been filled with the same thrills as his Bulls era, but there were some unforgettable moments. Tops among these was the fearsome fight to the finish between Jordan and Mechagodzilla, who had surfaced in Seattle after a long retirement from monstering following his defeat to Gozilla in the early 70s. Jordan and his teammates, including The Flash AND the recently turned-good Spellcaster, managed to defeat their opponent with quick thinking, superhuman feats of courage and strength, and one crucial foul by Mechagodzilla which resulted in the two successful Washington free throws that ultimately won the game.
1. THE ULTIMATE THREE-POINTER (Michael Jordan vs. Death, April 18, 2003)
As with Fred Astaire, Superman, and Meat Loaf, we knew the day would come when Michael Jordan would die. And even in death, who could be a more heroic figure? We will always remember the indelible image of Michael racing in and out of that burning building, rescuing elderly people and their pets, one by one. Although we are left confused by the later disclosure that he did not die when that huge support beam snapped in half and crashed down on his neck, but actually hours later when he was relaxing in his bathtub, "choking his chicken," and inadvertently covered his face in his thick, viscous SuperSpunk, suffocating himself. Well, even so, we will celebrate the LIFE, not the ignominy of his death.