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Wednesday, April 16
Counting down Jordan's top 40 moments

Editor's note: On Michael Jordan's 40th birthday last Feb. 17, Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune counted down Jordan's 40 greatest moments for With Jordan playing his final game, let's replay the top 40 hits of MJ.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan's shot in Atlanta would've been a storybook ending to his last All-Star Game.
One more time. Feb. 9, 2003. Mike hits a high-arcing fadeway along the baseline in the first overtime of the All-Star Game in what looks like the dramatic game-winner. But a foul call with a second left down the other end sends the game to a second overtime. But it was a heck of a national farewell shot.

39. Small is beautiful. Dec. 12, 1987. The legend grows as Jordan beats the Rockets with 44 points, blocks shots by Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson and ends the game with more blocks than the two 7-footers combined. Whatever is needed.

38. Ready for the world. July 1992. The Dream Team is getting ready for the Olympics and lazily loses by six in a scrimmage to a team of college all-stars and future NBA pros, like Chris Webber, Penny Hardaway, Allan Houston and Jamal Mashburn. Jordan tells Kansas and college coach Roy Williams this will change and the next day in a 38-minute game the Dream Team wins by 56.

37. He can still Do It. Dec. 29, 2001. Jordan scores 51 points for the Wizards against Charlotte with a Washington franchise-record 24 points in the first quarter and 34 in the half.

36. Cleveland again. Jan. 31, 2002. Put five guys on him. Jordan beats Cleveland again with a buzzer-beater. This time he's looking at 39 -- years, not points -- as a Wizard. This comes a week after he scored 40 in the first of two consecutive victories over the Cavs.

35. Cleveland must have done something. May 17, 1993. It was perhaps inevitable, but Jordan finishes the Cavs with a buzzer-beater (a fadeaway jumper) to close them out of the conference semifinals and send the Bulls to the sweep.

34. Refuse to lose. May 10, 1991. The Bulls go on to lose this playoff game to the 76ers by two points after being ahead two games to none. The significance is Jordan will never let the Bulls quit. They're down by 24, but Mike insists they can win the game. They end up losing by two as he gets 46 and the 76ers are beaten even with a win. The Bulls win the next two before going on to sweep the Pistons, winning 10 of 11 from that point on to win their first NBA title.

33. Ricky's big mistake. May 14, 1989. The big underdog Bulls, coming off Jordan's winning shot in Cleveland, are up 2-1 in the conference semifinals playing the second of a back-to-back at home. Jordan has a groin injury and is getting treatment when he hears Knicks coach Rick Pitino on television suggesting Jordan is faking. A no-no. Jordan goes for 47 points and 11 rebounds, with 18 points in the fourth quarter, to shut up Pitino, the first of Knicks coaches to suggest Jordan is conning people.

32. So now they know. April 16, 1987. Jordan wraps up the most impressive offensive regular season since Wilt Chamberlain with his second 61-point game in a little more than a month, this time against the Hawks and Dominique Wilkins. It occurred in a period in which Jordan also had three other games of at least 50 points.

31. Lights out, New York. June 2, 1993. The Knicks are on life support, though fighting as Charles Smith desperately tries to put the ball in the basket to win the game. He is denied several times by a group, including Jordan in a game Jordan gets a triple-double with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists.

Bye, bye New York. May 31, 1993. The Bulls' run appears stopped at two when the Knicks go up 2-0 in the conference finals on John Starks' thrilling dunk down then stretch. The Bulls go home and even the series at 2-2 as Mike hits for 54 and the Bulls end up winning four straight.

29. Hello, Shaq. Jan. 16, 1993. Shaquille O'Neal is the big thing in the NBA that season, so in Orlando's first visit to Chicago, Mike goes for 64 points, his second most ever, while squeezing off a personal-most 49 shots in an overtime game. Turn the camera toward Mike.

Michael Jordan and Dan Majerle
A rare sight in the '93 Finals: Michael Jordan, left, watching Dan Majerle score.
28. Charles ain't getting no title. June 16, 1993. The Bulls had let the Suns back in the 1993 NBA Finals after winning the first two in Phoenix with a loss at home. In Game 4, Jordan scored 55 points, including 33 in the first half and 16 in a row at one point, for the 3-1 edge. Jordan delighted in lighting up Dan Majerle, a favorite of nemesis Jerry Krause, who always bragged about Majerle's great defense. Jordan set a Finals record averaging 41 points and had four straight games of at least 40 points.

27. Hello, NBA 2. Nov. 13, 1985. In just his ninth NBA game, Jordan scored 45 points and had 10 rebounds in a win over the San Antonio Spurs to let the NBA know the hype is for real. Chicago hadn't quite caught on as this was Jordan's third home game and announced attendance at the last two games were less than 10,000.

26. Hello, NBA 1. Oct. 29, 1984. In his third NBA game, Jordan beats Milwaukee's conference finals team with 22 points in the fourth quarter and goes on in his rookie season to lead the team in scoring (28.2), rebounding (6.5) and assists (5.9).

25. He hates Cleveland. May 1, 1988. Jordan hits the Cavaliers for 55 points in Game 2 of the first-round playoff series after carrying the Bulls to a Game 1 victory with 50 points for back-to-back, 50-point postseason games. This time, it's Ron Harper on defense, not Craig Ehlo, in Game 2.

24. The guarantee. May 21, 1989. The Pistons knocked out the Bulls in the playoffs the previous season and are headed to their first NBA title. They're home to open the conference finals when Jordan says the Bulls, the sixth-place finisher in the East, will win Game 1. They do and he gets 46 in Game 3 for a 2-1 lead before the Pistons take the series.

23. He is rising. April 3, 1988. With the Bulls coming back from a Western Conference road trip and finishing in Detroit on Easter Sunday and national TV, Mike hit the Finals-bound Pistons for 59 points in a two-point win.

22. The duel. March 4, 1987. Isiah Thomas and Jordan have a history, not only from their Chicago connections and rivalry but Jordan's belief Thomas tried to embarrass him in his first All-Star game. Jordan goes for 61 in an overtime win in Detroit to hold off Thomas' 31 points and 18 assists. Thomas rims-out a 3-pointer that would have sent the game into double overtime.

21. The Shootout. April 16, 1987. The Bulls lose, but Jordan and Dominique Wilkins, the other prime scorer and dunker of the era, engage in another memorable duel with Jordan getting 61. Earlier in the season, Jordan goes for 41, but Wilkins gets 57, and Jordan doesn't forget.

Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan's popularity took off after winning a second straight dunk title in 1988.
The coronation. Feb. 7, 1988. Jordan won the slam dunk contest on Saturday with the Dr. J takeoff from the free-throw line and then scored 40 points, including 16 in the last six minutes, to carry the East to victory.

19. The tribute. June 16, 1996. The Bulls wrap up title No. 4 in Chicago, the first since Jordan's return to basketball and since his father was murdered in 1993. It is Father's Day and Jordan is overcome as he crumbles to the floor at the end of the game remembering his father.

18. The bookend. June 1, 1997. Mike's buzzer-beater beat the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of the 1997 Finals, but the Jazz are unaware that it would only mark one end of their two-year Finals frustration against the Bulls with Jordan concluding the two-year series with his game-winner in Game 6 in 1998.

17. The promise. Nov. 1, 1986. It's 34-year-old Doug Collins' first game as Bulls coach, and in Madison Square Garden. "Don't worry, coach," Jordan tells a sweat-soaked Collins before the game, "I won't let you lose." Jordan scores 50, his first 50-point regular-season game, in the Bulls' win.

16. The pride factor. March 20, 1993. Mike doesn't pay much attention as a kid named LaBradford Smith lights him up for 37 in a close Bulls win. Jordan is furious, even with the victory, and tells teammates he'll get 37 in the first half the next night, when in a quirk in the schedule the Bulls are playing Washington again. Jordan gets 36 in the first half and rims out a jumper as the first half ends with the Bulls blowing out the then-Bullets.

15. The dinger. July 30, 1994. Mike goes deep for the first time, going over the 370-foot sign in Hoover Metropolitan Stadium for the Birmingham Barons for his first professional baseball home run.

14. The double nickel. March 28, 1995. In his fifth game back after his 18-month hiatus from basketball to play baseball, Jordan went into Madison Square Garden, the basketball mecca, and hit Broadway for a Knicks opponent-record 55 points. Jordan fed Bill Wennington for a layup to win the game.

13. The Shot 2. May 7, 1989. Mike's double-pump 15-footer over Ehlo to steal Game 5 of the opening-round playoff series. Then tabbed as the "Team of the 90s" by Magic Johnson, the Cavs had swept the Bulls in the regular season with six consecutive victories. Jordan missed two late free throws that could have won Game 4, but scored 44 in Game 5, including the last two baskets.

12. The layup. June 5, 1991. Mike went righty to lefty for a layup to show the Lakers it's no longer winnin' time. The Bulls lost Game 1 of their first Finals ever on a Sam Perkins 3-pointer, then were on the way to blowing out the Lakers in Game 2 when Jordan defied everyone with his switch-hands layup with Perkins looming. He was just sending a message.

11. Dad's advice. May 17, 1992. The run seemed over at one when the Knicks, under new coach Pat Riley, have the Bulls reeling in the conference semifinals facing a Game 7 at home. Mike asked for advice before the game and James Jordan told him to take over, which Mike did, scoring 42 in a blowout, 29-point win.

Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen
Michael Jordan, left, collapsed in the arms of Scottie Pippen after Game 5 in the '98 Finals.
The vomit streak. June 11, 1997. It's over as Mike ate some bad pizza in Utah, felt faint, but the Jazz eventually passed out as Mike went for 38 and the Bulls took a 3-1 lead on the way to title No. 5.

9. Magic who? March 25, 1989. Getting tired of being told he's just a scorer and Magic Johnson is a winner, Mike led the Bulls to a sweep of a Western Conference trip with 21 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists. It is a period of 14 games in which he averaged 32.6 points, 10.3 rebounds and 11.9 assists and recorded 11 triple-doubles in the 14 games, twice also while scoring more than 40 points.

8. Who is this guy? July 1, 1984. Jordan led the collegiate Olympic team to its third consecutive victory over an NBA All-Star team that included Kevin McHale, Mark Aguirre and Magic Johnson. Before the U.S. got its gold medal, the coach of the Spanish team said everyone jumps and comes down but Jordan stays up.

7. Here they come. May 13, 1990. Jordan finished off his best sustained playoff stretch with his third consecutive game of at least 45 points as the Bulls go up 3-1 on the 76ers in the conference semifinals and head home to clinch the series. He averaged 43 for the series. The Bulls would go on to take the Pistons to a seventh game in the conference finals in Phil Jackson's first season and show they are getting closer. Jordan would average 37.6 points in 16 playoff games during that run.

6. Sixty-nine. March 28, 1990. Mike took it out on the Cavs again, scoring his career-high 69 points in an overtime win. He also had 18 rebounds, six assists and four steals.

5. The fulfillment. June 12, 1991. Jordan is a champion, finally, at 28 and at the end of his seventh NBA season. Some said he'd never win it all, that he was too selfish, that he scored too much, that his personality was too dominating, that his teammates weren't tough or brave enough. A tearful Jordan embraced the championship trophy in his locker stall in Los Angeles with his father and best friend, James, by his side.

4. The Shot 1. March 29, 1982. Freshman Mike's 16-footer with 15 seconds left gave North Carolina the NCAA title. He had just 16 points as freshmen didn't get the ball at North Carolina, but Jordan hit three of Carolina's last five field goals on a club that also featured James Worthy and Perkins.

3. The shrug. June 3, 1992. Mike wasn't happy that there was a consensus around the NBA that Clyde Drexler should be the league's MVP. So he hit Drexler and the Blazers for six 3-pointers and 35 points in the first half of Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

2. God disguised as Michael Jordan. April 20, 1986. That was Larry Bird's observation of Jordan's 63-point playoff record game against what is still regarded as one of the best teams in NBA history. This came during the season Jordan missed most of because of a broken foot, and, little known, was his first-ever NBA game with more than 50 points.

The pose. June 14, 1998. Mike hit the game-winner for title No. 6, held the pose and everyone was convinced Mike was signaling goodbye to the playing basketball world. He was 99.9 percent sure. He also had 45 points in that game and hit his shot after swiping the ball from Karl Malone.

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