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Jordan transcends hoops

Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Even sick, Jordan dominated
By Fred W. Kiger
Special to

Signature Game
June 11, 1997 - It was the worst of days, it was the best of nights for Jordan.

On the day of Game 5, with the NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz tied at two games apiece, Jordan was not throwing up jumpers, but throwing up. A slight case of food poisoning compounded by flu-like symptoms had him rushing to only one place - the bathroom in his Salt Lake City hotel.

At game time, Jordan's eyes were glazed, his forehead was burning and he was dehydrated. "I didn't even think he would be able to put his uniform on," teammate Scottie Pippen said.

Once Superman put on his cape, neither the viral illness nor the Jazz could stop him. At the end, when he was most tired and looking like death, he stuck a dagger into the Jazz's championship hopes.

With the Bulls trailing 85-84 with 47 seconds left, Jordan made a game-tying free throw and then swooped in for the rebound after missing the second foul shot. With 25 seconds remaining, he nailed the winning shot, a three-pointer to give the Bulls the lead for good in their riveting 90-88 victory.

Shooting 13-of-27 from the field, Jordan finished with 38 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter, in 44 minutes. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

As it turned out, a sick Jordan is still Jordan - the best there ever was with a basketball in his hands.

Odds 'n' Ends

  • Away from the basketball court, Jordan says he was the laziest of the five children in his family.

  • Jordan's paternal grandfather was a tobacco sharecropper in North Carolina.

  • Jordan's signature - the tongue protruding from his mouth - came as a result of watching his father James making the same gesture while working on the family car.

  • As a 12-year-old Little League pitcher in Wilmington, N.C., Jordan threw several no-hitters and was one game shy of leading his team to the Little League World Series. He fired a two-hitter but lost 1-0 in the Eastern Regional final.

  • In Jordan's two varsity seasons at Laney High School, his teams went 13-10 and 19-4. An upset in the regional tournament ended Jordan's senior year.

  • In the 1981-82 North Carolina media guide, Jordan was introduced as "Mike Jordan." His post-school ambition was to play professional basketball; he most admired Magic Johnson and former Tar Heel Walter Davis; and, already enamored with flying, the movies he most enjoyed included "Superman" and "Superman II."

  • How's this for roommates? While attending North Carolina, Jordan at one time lived with three other future pro athletes, NBA center Brad Daugherty, shortstop Walt Weiss and golfer Davis Love III.

  • In his three seasons as a Tar Heel, Jordan averaged 17.7 points.

  • Though leaving early, Jordan would return to North Carolina and earn a B.A. in geography.

  • The average American male's percentage of body fat is 15-20%. The average professional athlete's is 7-8%. Jordan's body fat was measured at 4%.

  • On April 20, 1986, Jordan set the NBA playoff record for most points in a game with 63 in a double-overtime loss to Boston, 135-131. After the game, Larry Bird said, "That was God disguised as Michael Jordan."

  • For three straight seasons (1986-87 through 1988-89), Jordan led the NBA in minutes played.

  • Jordan is the only shooting guard to average eight rebounds and eight assists in a season. He accomplished this in 1988-89, when he led the NBA in scoring by averaging 32.5 points.

  • Before Jordan signed with Nike, he actually preferred adidas. Nike persuaded him to change his allegiance to the tune of roughly $1 million annually for five years.

  • When Nike was originally courting Jordan, company executives showed him a sketch of red sneakers. Michael responded, "I can't wear that shoe. Those are the devil's colors."

  • In the first year alone Nike's Air Jordans grossed an astronomical $130 million.

  • During the gold medal presentation at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Jordan draped an American flag over the Reebok logo on his uniform to avoid controversy with his sponsor Nike.

  • Through 1998, it has been estimated that Jordan has made close to $130 million from Nike.

  • In 1991 a portion of Interstate 40 that runs to Wilmington was named for Jordan.

  • When Jordan was asked about the different styles between his college coach, Dean Smith, and his 1984 Olympics coach, Bobby Knight, he said that Coach Smith employed the four-corner offense and Coach Knight employed four-letter words.

  • Jordan holds the NBA Finals record for most points-per-game in a series, averaging 41 against the Phoenix Suns in 1993.

  • When Chicago assistant coach Tex Winter told Jordan, "There's no 'I' in the word team," the Bulls star shot back, "There is in the word win."

  • Jordan recorded the only triple-double in an All-Star Game when he scored 14 points, pulled down 11 rebounds and had 11 assists in 1997.

  • While playing in a NBA European preseason tournament in the fall of 1997, Jordan played against French players who had inked the number "23" on their sneakers to remember the moment.

  • At the same tournament -- and even after Jordan had confused the Louvre with the luge at a press conference -- the France-Soir wrote, "Michael Jordan is in Paris. That's better than the Pope. It's God in person."

  • Jordan could not only score, he could also keep others from scoring. He was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1988 and was selected to the All-Defensive First Team nine times. He shares the record for leading the league in steals three times.

  • A June 1998 Fortune cover story "The Jordan Effect" said that since joining the NBA in 1984, Jordan has helped generate $10 billion in revenue for the game of basketball, its broadcasting and various corporate ventures.

  • Jordan's $33.14 million salary for 1997-98 remains the most for any pro athlete for one season.

  • Jordan has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated 51 times, more than any other athlete, through January 2002. One belittling cover came when he was playing minor league baseball with the Birmingham Barons and the headline read, "Bag It, Michael." Jordan stopped talking to the magazine after that.

  • In the summer of 1998, a two-page brochure was prepared for Jordan's fantasy basketball camp. A photo on the left page showed a young, sleek North Carolina freshman nailing the winning basket against Georgetown in 1982. On the right, a photo portrayed an older, muscular Jordan knocking down the winning basket against Utah in 1998. The caption under the left read "Some Things" and under the right "Never Change."

  • Besides becoming president of basketball operations and part-owner of the Washington Wizards in January 2000, Jordan also became a minority owner of the Washington Capitals, the MCI Center and US Airways Arena.

  • Jordan's record consecutive-game streak of scoring in double digits ended at 866 on Dec. 27, 2001 when he had a career-low six points against Indiana. The last time Jordan failed to reach double digits was March 22, 1986, when he scored eight points against Cleveland - his previous low.

  • Jordan is the only player to average at least 30 points in the playoffs, having averaged 33.4 points in 179 games.

  • In 13 All-Star Games, he averaged 20.2.

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