Logo
Browse Archives by:

Where Were You When Michael Jordan Became God?

 


I was eight years old sitting on the couch next to my father for Game 2 of the Celtics first round series against the Bulls in 1986. It was in this game that I felt, for the first time, the feeling of helplessness that washes over a sports fan when his team comes into contact with something it cannot stop or deal with. I imagine this is how Mets fans felt when they ran into Orel Hershiser in the 1988 playoffs; how fans of every NFL team felt about the 1985 Bears; and how it must have felt to watch your team turn the ball over 25 times against Kentucky’s press in the 1990s. You get the feeling there is no way your team can get past this force through any skill of its own. You either need to get lucky or the force needs to run out of time.

I remember turing to my Dad, as young kids do, for reassurance. The Celtics are going to win, right Dad? The Bulls can’t beat us in Boston, right? This will all be OK, right? Michael Jordan, on April 20, 1986, reduced me to a blubbering mess.

I was a savvy sports fan for an eight-year-old, but I wasn’t ready for this. There were two truths I knew: 1) The 1986 Celtics would not lose at home; 2) A first-round series was a time for thinking about future match-ups, not playing long, stressful games. And there was a third popular truth I had probably heard a lot about: Michael Jordan was not a good team player.

And yet here was this man single-handedly torturing the 67-15 Boston Celtics, a team that went 40-1 at home. For God’s sake, he was making Larry Bird look silly on defense. This I could not deal with emotionally. Larry Bird was the best player in the NBA, at least to me. I understood there would be days when he wouldn’t shoot well or when another great player, maybe Magic Johnson or Dr. J, would outplay him. But I literally could not grasp the notion that another player could embarrass him.

It was horrible. I don’t even remember the game ending, to be honest. I don’t remember the Celtics winning, 135-131 in double overtime, and I don’t remember Larry Bird saying that MJ wasn’t really a human called Michael Jordan but was actually “God disguised as Michael Jordan.” (And, seriously, is that not one of the top 10 or 20 all-time sports quotes?)

I only remember the helplessness, the pleading with my father, the fear of this incomprehensible player.

You’re going to see the same lists of MJ career highlights everywhere this weekend as he’s inducted into the Hall of Fame, so I won’t bore you with them here. I will say, though, that I will always be partial to the Flu Game—Game 5 of the 1997 Finals, when Jordan, obviously ill, somehow scored 38 points to lead the Bulls to an 90-88 win at Utah. That series was really, really competitive. Utah squared the series at 2-2 in Game 4–highlighted by one of the ballsiest passes you’ll ever see–and led by 16 early in Game 5. It was the first series of the Bulls six NBA Finals appearances I truly felt they could lose.

Michael ended up playing 44 minutes and nailing a three that put Chicago up 88-85 with 25 seconds left. Back-breaker.

After the flu game, I got a call a from a college friend of mine—a girl who didn’t much like sports and couldn’t believe my friends and I devoted so much time to them. I answered the phone by saying, “hello,” and she didn’t even offer the usual introduction. She went right to this: “Now I understand why you like sports so much.”

That was Michael. More HOF thoughts after the jump.

This HOF class, great as it is, is sort of depressing as a Celtics fan. Three of the 20 greatest players of all-time are going in, and everyone is remembering their greatest and most historically significant moments. Aside from that 63-point game—still an all-time playoff record—the Celtics don’t really factor into this discussion. Can you remember one Admiral or Stockton performance against Boston that truly mattered? Another game against Jordan’s Bulls that would ever appear on ESPN Classic?

The whole thing is sort of a reminder of how bad the Celtics were from the early 1990s until, really, 2008, with some playoff blips here and there.

Excluding the six Wizards-Celtics games during the Comeback That Never Happened, Jordan, Stockton and Robinson went a combined 68-25 against the Celtics after the 1986 season, according to player game logs for the three HOFers on Basketball Reference. From the 1989-90 season on, that record was 60-15. Ouch.

Still, this was the formative period for me as a basketball fan. I turned 13 in 1990 and was in my mid-20s when these guys retired. They are all involved in some of my best NBA flashbulb memories, all of which you probably know and remember fondly, too.

So sit back, watch the video clips and enjoy. Because at least we’re not fans of the Cavs, Knicks, Rockets (actually, they’ll get to watch some sweet Hakeem action from the 1995 Western Conference Finals) or Hawks. They’ll have to suffer the most forcible highlight memories this weekend. Enjoy!

  • Pingback: MJ, the Bulls and the Hall of Fame » By The Horns

  • Pingback: Today’s Celtics Links 9/11 | Boston Sports Nation

  • Pingback: ‘Net reaction: Jordan, Stockton, Robinson and you | Sports News Images and Videos

  • Still enjoying #17

    still didn't beat us

  • http://replicajewelry.blog.com/ eronne

    Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech is still the biggest topic in basketball. And for the most part, the reviews were not positive. It really amazes me.

  • http://www.quality-insurance-4-less.com/ Chimezirim Odimba

    Michael Jordan truly is a legend in basketball. He was and always be one of my greatest hero in basketball and for me, basketball would not be the same without him being part of it. His every move is really an eye-catching to every spectators and gives awe to awesome.

  • http://www.techsmith.com/learn/camtasia/7/editing-dimensions-save-project/ Levi

    Great Post!

  • Pingback: solaranlage komplettangebot

  • http://yangachi.org/Blog/2013/04/sample-minds-33.html#comments outlet

    Can I just say what a aid to seek out someone who really knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know methods to bring an issue to gentle and make it important. Extra individuals need to read this and understand this side of the story. I cant consider youre no more popular since you definitely have the gift.

no prescription xenical bupropion tab zithromax 500 mg pfizer viagra on line buy deltasone online cipro in south africa purchase viagra without a prescription levitra website orlistat price discount cialis online cialis online us paxil lexapro cheap cialis in uk canadian propecia buy cipro in usa cheap viagra no prescription generic levitra canada viagra tab generic levitra mastercard natural alternative to paroxetine buying viagra from india purchase discount cialis buy prednisone online without a prescription lowest cost levitra best and cheapest viagra pills cialis pricing nolvadex price no prescription how to order cialis online celebrex price where to buy cialis cheap non prescription generic cialis top selling herbal viagra cialis discount overnight viagra sales in uk alternative paxil genuine cialis online viagra online stores online rx diflucan buy cheap generic viagra zithromax dosing how much is accutane cialis com purchase cytotec online azithromycin cheapest cheapest viagra online online pharmacies uk amoxicillin canada diflucan buy daily cialis online accutane oklahoma viagra cheap canada viagra discount sales purchase viagra in uk buy amoxicillin online xenical pharmacy ordering levitra buying viagra online legal cheap authentic viagra one day shipping amoxil side effects viagra how to buy cialis online best best price celebrex generic cialis lowest price buy cialis in canada us cialis propecia mexico online prescription viagra azithromycin purchase online cheap cialis online without a persciption cialis order on line dose amoxicillin levitra canadian cialis canada 5mg celebrex cost australia azithromycin 500 mg viagra online sale buy levitra in europe wellbutrin online pharmacy viagra canada pharmacies order nolvadex viagra professional pfizer cymbalta australia for sale buy online purchase viagra flagyl buy generic cymbalta 20mg wellbutrin online prescription cialis online american internet viagra pharmacy buy cipro online cheap viagra pill viagra approved viagra buy usa side effects for zithromax viagra 25 mg canadian pharmacy cheap generic viagra cipro generic 100mg of paxil real cialis pharmacies herbal alternative to lasix order viagra in canada cipro xr bayer discount clomid levitra online sales cheap levitra prescription cialis brand approved cialis cheap viagra discount generic viagra professional viagra pfizer 50 mg female viagra europe furosemide 40mg tab