Happy Birthday, Mike.
Michael Jordan turns 50 on Sunday, a fact that you may have missed, were you to have been duct-taped inside a vault, then dropped to the middle of the ocean on a foreign planet over the past five days or so.
Everyone's got a favorite Jordan memory. Everyone has a story they like to tell friends. How do you single out the best?
Well, for starters, there's this video, via PBT, on the 50 best plays in Jordan history:
So there's that. Of the many you can point to, here are a few favorites.
This, to me, is the most iconic play in Jordan history. There are other candidates, but nothing else showcases our idea of Jordan as the most complete basketball player, ever.
It's a calculating, tactical move by Jordan to switch hands in order to get the shot off, and there are only so many people on the planet who could ever do that in practice, much less a game. If nothing else, it showcases how Jordan was willing to not only try anything to succeed, but to also carry through with the focus and execution necessary to do it.
Hey, James White, here's how it's done. (Just kidding. White routinely dunks from this far out, just not Saturday.) This, to me, is the most iconic dunk in the history of the dunk contest. Vince Carter's 2000 performance was better, but the poster of this dunk was an iconic image from my childhood. It represents the way Jordan could absolutely fly to a degree no one had seen before, not even with Dr. J. This is "Air" Jordan.
Flu game. Enough said.
How about The Shot? Cleveland, please close your browser and go watch Kyrie's 3-point contest again.
Here's what I love about this shot: Craig Ehlo doesn't feel bad about it. He's said in interviews, notably in the brilliant book "The Art of a Beautiful Game," that he knows he played great defense. He hung with him. Ehlo was a great defender, a fact people don't remember. This is just Jordan, executing above and beyond. I love great defense. This is an example of how there's only so much you can do.
Question: In today's game, if a player played like Jordan, wouldn't you just foul him? Even take the two free throws, which he would hit, and at least leave you time to have the final possession? Would you ever leave it up to chance that Jordan would hit that shot?
And finally ...
Nothing left to be said. Thanks, Mike.
(But this was a push-off.)