Declaring any player to be the best ever to play their sport usually makes for an intense debate in sports bars, but Jordan is the exception to the rule. The NBA’s own website defines Jordan as “the greatest basketball player of all time,” and it’s virtually impossible to disagree.
Jordan’s legacy isn’t limited to the 6 consecutive NBA championships that he won with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, his five NBA MVPs, his 14 all-star nominations, or his legendary competitive spirit at both ends of the floor. MJ’s marketability, charisma, and explosive athleticism made him an international icon, whether it was as a star in the movie Space Jam or as Nike’s Air Jordan.
Here are just a few of the thrilling moments Michael Jordan provided NBA fans that will last forever:
Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals
In his final game with the Bulls, Jordan almost single-handedly delivered Chicago the last of its six championships during the 1990s. Jordan’s last-minute heroics punctuated a 45-point effort as he played all but four minutes of the contest in the high altitude of Salt Lake City.
Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals
In the wee morning hours of June 11, 1997, Jordan woke up in a profuse sweat and suffering from flu-like conditions. However, with his Bulls needing a victory after Utah had won the previous 2 games to tie the series 2-2, Jordan got out of bed one hour before tip-off and continued to lead the Bulls to a 90-88 victory.
Game 5, First Round of the 1989 NBA Playoffs
Of the 25 game-winning shots that Jordan delivered throughout his career, none was bigger than the dagger he hit at the final buzzer on May 7, 1989. With his Bulls trailing the host Cleveland Cavaliers 100-99 in the fifth and deciding game of the first round of the playoffs, Jordan took an inbounds pass with three seconds left on the clock and drained an off-balance shot over Cleveland’s Craig Ehlo to give Chicago a 101-100 victory. Though the Bulls didn’t win their first NBA title of the Jordan era till two years later, many consider “The Shot” as the moment in which the Bulls dynasty was born.