Crowning of the Bulls in Las Vegas
By Ted Bishop
LAS VEGAS -- The great Chicago Bulls teams are a thing of the past, but they still managed to steal the show at the eighth annual ESPYs awards show Monday night.
The event began in true Vegas fashion, with an Elvis-clad Dick Vitale swooping onto the stage from the balcony of Stage 6 at the MGM Grand. But it was clear that on this night neither Dickie V, host Jimmy Smits, nor any of the other stars in attendance could steal the spotlight from one man -- Michael Jordan.Jordan added the Male Athlete and Pro Basketball Player Decade Awards to his stash of 10 career ESPYs. His former coach, Phil Jackson, earned the decade's coaching honor while the Chicago Bulls were named the Team of the Decade. "Unfortunately, I have no jobs for any of you at the Wizards," said Jordan after receiving the first of his two standing ovations of the night. "So you can sit back down." While Jordan joked about the Wizards, Jackson said the Bulls could have even been more dominant during his interview via satellite. "It was the supreme time in sports for us here in Chicago. If Michael wouldn't have taken those years off -- and I appreciate the fact that he did -- we may have won eight in a row," said Jackson. "My congratulations to the team and the organization for this honor." After receiving his second ESPY Decade Award with his son Marcus by his side, Jordan took some time to reflect on his career. "There are a lot of great athletes out there that had an influence on Michael Jordan -- that helped him excel to be the best athlete he could be," said Jordan while accepting the male athlete honor. "And although tonight, I receive this award, they truly get the credit for the inspiration they have given me over the years." Steffi Graff was selected as the Female Athlete of the Decade, beating out Bonnie Blair, Mia Hamm and Chamique Holdsclaw for the honor. It was the inaugural year for the Decade Awards at the ESPYs, which traditionally honor the athletic accomplishments of the previous season. In addition to the 15 decade honors, 27 other ESPYs were given out to 1999's brightest stars. Golfer Tiger Woods made the biggest haul in the annual performer of the year ESPY categories, winning Male Athlete of the Year and Golfer of the Year honors. In addition, Woods also was named as the Golfer of the Decade, bringing his ESPY stash to three for the evening. St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire took home his fourth ESPY in the past two years, earning the nod as the Baseball Performer of the Decade. Other Decade ESPY honors went to Mario Lemieux for hockey, Jerry Rice for football, Dale Earnhardt for auto racing, Pete Sampras for tennis, Evander Holyfield for boxing and Michael Johnson and Bonnie Blair for the Olympics category. In addition to the ESPYs, the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage was given out to Columbine High School coach and teacher Dave Sanders, who lost his life in the shootings. A portion of the proceeds from the ESPYs are given to The V Foundation, established at the first ESPYs by Jim Valvano and ESPN to raise funds for cancer research.