September 11, 2002
Michael Jordan(info about Michael Jordan)
Above the rim
The acrobat – Athletic, agile and extremely talented, he has dominated the opposition with his takeoffs to the rim and his shots in full motion.
The 1984 draft was a true manna for the NBA. The selected players have brought a lot to the game. We just have to think of the powerful center Hakeem Olajuwon, the bulldozer Charles Barkley and the creative John Stockton. However, the best move of that draft was the third choice, the one made by the Chicago Bulls. The selectors set their heart on an athlete native of North Carolina, Michael Jordan.
He demonstrated during his college years precursor signs of a great career, but only a few people thought that he will shine at the pro level with such an aura. Nevertheless, with the University of North Carolina, Jordan took a big step towards fame. In 1982, he made the victorious shot, which gave his team the great honors of the Final Four. He then joined in 1984 the company of young talented players like Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Chris Mullin and Scottie Pippen to represent the American squad to the Olympics, and they won the gold medal (professionals were not eligible at that time). He scored an average of 17.1 points per game and the United States won their eight games. Michael Jordan acceded to the NBA with a gold medal around the neck and the trophy of the Final Four in hand!
When he entered the NBA, Jordan was in top shape. Measuring 6 feet and 6 inches and weighting 190 pounds, he was at the same time powerful and light-footed.
Michael Jordan has been able to distinguish himself from the other players with his athletic attributes. His powerful legs permitted him to accelerate in a surprising way and to accomplish incredible runs. Ball in hand, he dribbled at full speed. When he arrived in front of an opponent, he changed the direction suddenly and engaged in top gear leaving his confused rival behind him. Sometimes, he completed his high speed runs with a devastating dunks. After those dunks, it was possible to see on the face of the opposing players an astonished look. What could they do to stop him? Jordan had an exceptional impulse. The amplitude of his jumps led to spectacular plays which demoralized the opposition.
We should not forget that he won twice the NBA dunk contest, in 1987 and in 1988. During those two competitions, he jumped from as far as the free throw line in order to accomplish his aerial prowess. It seemed that he was gliding.
Certainly, Air Jordan could beat most of the players with his powerful takeoffs. However, to the disarray of his opponents, he had more than one trick in his bag. Jordan was also a crafty and fineness player. He knew how to confuse the opposition with his tiring zigzags. Starting his runs outside the three point's line, he drove towards the center of the play, and then he suddenly changed direction to go directly for the basket. During his career, he burned a lot of defensive player, even the best ones of the NBA. We can think of two players of the New York Knicks, in particular, John Starks and Derek Harper, who have past under the Jordan road roller. Joe Dumars of the Detroit Pistons and the star player of the Portland Trail Blazers, Clyde Drexler, have also flinched at certain times against him.
If he could not dunk the ball or pass around an opponent, he relied on his precise shot. With his backward and forward motions in all directions, he created enough space to make quality shots. After all, Jordan was accumulating the points to the pleasure of his fans.
To reach his full potential, he trained hours and hours. He has repeated thousands of times the different moves necessary for a basketball player. With all of his abilities and physical qualities, Jordan scored a profusion of baskets. He won the scoring championship ten times (a record) and seven times in a row (from 1986 to 1992 and from 1995 to 1997). He scored more than 50 points in a game on 37 occasions. His personal record can take someone’s breath away: 69 points against Cleveland in 1990. Besides, he is the fourth best scorer in a career with 32,292 points. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Wilt Chamberlain are the only ones to surpass him. However, Jordan ranks first in average points per game in a career with 30.1. His best season in scoring was his third one (1986-87), when he maintained an average of 37.1 points per game. That year, he cumulated 3,041 points. That was the third best performance in the history of the NBA.
In addition of being a strike force on offence, he also contributed plenty on defence. He has been proclaimed defensive player of the year in 1988. A tireless player, he excelled in different aspects of the defensive game. He fought without rest for rebounds even against the seven foot tall players. Always looking for a weakness in an opponent, Jordan made a lot of steals. His way? He arrived at full speed behind the opponents to seize the ball and then he started back on the counter offence. Reggie Miller, a guard of the Indiana Pacers, learned it to his expense. In the steal chapter, Jordan is ranked fourth in a career with 2,514.
In spite of the fact that he was named rookie of the year in 1984, Jordan was unable to bring his team to the playoffs. Indeed, the Chicago Bulls were weak. The team did not possess the necessary artillery to compete against the powerful teams of that era: the Boston Celtics with Larry Bird, the Detroit Pistons with Isiah Thomas and the Bad Boys and the Los Angeles Lakers under the wing of the star player Magic Johnson.
From 1984 to 1990, the Chicago Bulls gradually metamorphosed into a championship team. The direction made the necessary changes to arrive to great honors. In 1987, Scottie Pippen, who will become the accomplice of Michael, and the rebound's specialist, Horace Grant, joined the team. After that, with coach Phil Jackson, who arrived in 1988, a new era started. The new offensive system, which is based on passes and movements, produces shots at different positions. This renewal of the offence will bring dividends.
Jordan and his teammates will beat the Los Angeles Lakers in finals to win their first NBA championship in 1991. MJ waited seven seasons to reach this goal. The Chicago Bulls players will proceed to impose their game style centered on speed. They will win again the title in 1992 and in 1993.
Afterwards, for personal reasons (such as the death of his father), Michael Jordan announced his retirement to devote his energy to baseball. Without the contribution of their key player, the Bulls were not kings anymore. The Houston Rockets became the masters of the court (champions in 1994 and 1995). However, Jordan will come back to basketball at the end of the 1995 season.
The return of number 23 in the line up will revive the Bulls. They won three more championships. In 1996, they beat the Seattle Supersonics and they deprived the Utah Jazz of the title twice during the 1997 and 1998 finals. Malone and Stockton are still regretting it. After all, Jordan won the championship six times with the Bulls (from 1991 to 1993 and from 1996 to 1998).
Jordan has dominated his sport because of his athletic attributes, his extraordinary talent and his huge desire to win. He has been named five times the most valuable player of the NBA. He has been also proclaimed the most valuable player of the playoffs six times. His attitude was to never quit and it paid off big time.
© United Athletes Magazine