There are a lot of moments from Michael Jordan's career you've probably tried to recreate at the park or in your driveway. Hitting a jumper and then doing the shrug. The pullback crossover with maybe a dusting of push-off against Byron Russell for the Game 6 winner in 1998. Closing your eyes on a free throw. Inviting Dikembe Mutombo over, dunking on him, and then wagging your finger in his face.
One of the more iconic moments of Jordan's career, especially in his drive for the first of six titles in his career, happened 24 years ago Friday when the Chicago Bulls evened up the series against the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals. The Bulls were running away with Game 2, leading by 24 points in the fourth quarter. The Lakers couldn't do anything to stop Jordan with him on his way to a 33-point night on 15 of 18 from the field. He also had 13 assists and seven rebounds.
In a transition opportunity, Jordan passed the ball to Cliff Livingston, who started to attack the basket only to find the Lakers' defense collapsing. He kicked it back to Jordan, who was hanging around the foul line. Jordan started to go for the right-handed shot at the rim, only to inexplicably switch hands and try to defend himself since the Lakers certainly weren't going to do it.
This layup put the Bulls up 97-61 as Marv Albert infamously exclaimed "... a SPECTACULAR MOVE by Michael Jordan!"
Magic Johnson's comments about the play after the game with the series tied 1-1 were interesting, and they probably wouldn't come close to flying in today's 24-hour media environment.
"When he came down the lane, he just went one way, put it in one hand, floated about five more yards, said 'Well I don't know,' and then he went off the glass," Magic said in the postgame presser from this clip. "It was his game tonight. He really took it over in the second half. The only thing is no matter if you get beat by one or 20, it's still 1-1."
Granted, Magic had a bit more clout with the basketball-covering world, but imagine LeBron James or Carmelo Anthony or Chris Paul saying something to that effect in today's world? Praising a spectacular play by an opponent and then sort of diminishing the loss as they prepare for the next contest? Only the hottest of takes would be coming out of the oven.
As we know now, the 1-1 series would quickly become 4-1 with Jordan finally getting his championship and the floodgates would open. The casual manner in which he talked about some of his moves is always amusing because they were just regular decisions for him.
The fun part about this time of year is we get these anniversaries to help us get through the off-days in the conference finals and NBA Finals. We'll probably have more Jordan memories coming up in the next week or so while the current NBA Finals keep plugging away.
Now go practice this in your driveway and be sure to stretch.