Michael Jordan: The Greatest Basketball Player In Essay, Research Paper
Michael Jordan Over fifty years have gone by in basketball history. Thousands of players have come and gone, but one man stands out above the rest. That man is Michael Jordan. When the ball is in the hands of Michael Jordan you know you re about to witness something great. Fans line up in the thousands to see him, and sellout crowds of over 50,000 pack into normally empty arenas to get a glimpse of this legendary superstar. This living legend, Michael Jordan, has secured his place as the greatest basketball player of all times, and has shown himself to be one of the foremost athletes in history. (Boston Gardens- April 20, 1986) Its game two of the first round playoffs, with the Boston Celtics leading the series one game to nothing. What looked like another blowout by the top team in the east against the number eight Chicago Bulls turned out to be one of the best playoff games in history. The Bulls, looking to avenge their loss just three days before, took an early lead in the first quarter with Michael Jordan scoring 17 of their 33 points. The Bulls held the Celtics back, but the Celtics rallied to bring the game within three, as the Bulls lead diminished to 91-88 going into the fourth quarter. The Bulls turned to Jordan to lead their way, as he scored 18 out of 25 of the Bulls fourth quarter points. After a Bull s free throw the Celtics were still up by two with 34 seconds remaining. It was the Celtic s ball and the Bulls needed a miracle to get back in the game. That miracle came in the form of a steal by Michael Jordan with 9 seconds remaining on the clock. The Bulls would get one last shot, which would be taken by none other than Michael Jordan. He pulled up behind the three-point line and looked at his target. With the seconds running down, and Kevin McHale in his face, he went for the win. As the buzzer sounded, a whistle rang out in the background; a foul was called on McHale. Jordan would have to go to the free throw line and hit both shots to send the game into overtime. The upset crowd of thousands hissed and booed in protest of the call, and in an attempt to distract Jordan, but Michael confidently made both free throws, sending the game into overtime. The game went back and forth in the first minutes of overtime, then Jordan s heroic 3-point play Gave the Bulls a 123-119 lead with a little over a minute to play. The Celtics wasted no time though, scoring the four points they needed to tie the game. After a timeout Jordan went for the game winning shot, only to fall short and send the game into a second overtime. Boston took the lead late in the second overtime, leading 131-127, but Jordan brought the Bulls back once again, as he tied the game with a minute left on the clock. In the end though, the one-man performance by Jordan wasn t enough to put the Celtics away, as the Celtics took over with a score of 135-131. Jordan carried his team on his back through four quarters and two overtimes, scoring 63 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists. He also set the record for the most points ever scored in a playoff game, but said he would rather have the win than the record. “Maybe someday, 15 years down the road when I have kids, I’ll look back on it,” he said. “For now, I just wanted to win the game.” (Michael Jordan) This winning attitude has been with Jordan ever since he was a child. Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in North Carolina. The son of James and Deloris Jordan, he was his parents fourth child, and the youngest of their three boys. While growing up, Michael developed a strong relationship with his brother Larry whom was one year older than he was. Michael and Larry competed in all sports, especially basketball. Larry worked harder than Michael did in athletics, but Michael enjoyed competing with him. Then, in Michael s sophomore year in high school, he sprouted above his brother Larry, growing to over 5 11 as Larry remained at 5 8 . This would prove to be an important character builder for Michael, who; as a result of playing with his brother, developed his desire to compete and win in all types of competition. Even through the hard times during high school, Jordan kept this winning spirit. When he was cut from the Varsity team as a sophomore, he didn t give up. Instead, he got up early every morning to practice with the jayvee team and had a very successful season, averaging nearly 25 points per game. Michael carried on his great performances throughout his junior and senior years on the varsity team. By the time he was graduating, many colleges were knocking on his door, including the University of North Carolina, which he would eventually decide to attend. As a freshman at UNC Jordan quickly showed what he was made of, when he became the only freshman to start on the varsity squad. At first, Michael thought of himself as only a minor part of the team, but that soon changed in a game with ninth-ranked Tulsa where Jordan put on an amazing performance and helped his team to a 78-70 victory. Freshman Michael Jordan came out of his self-imposed shell and thrilled the Carmichael [auditorium] crowds with his awesome skills, wrote Al Featherson of the Durham Sun. Jordan Shot 11 of 15 from the floor for 22 points, and added four steals and a blocked shot. As Jordan became more and more confident with his game, he developed the leadership skills that he would later be known for in his NBA career. By far, the biggest confidence boost Michael got was when he hit the game winning shot for the Tarheels in their championship game against Georgetown. When that final shot went down to seal their victory, Michael was put into the spotlight and would remain there for many years to come. Michael continued his success throughout his college career winning such achievements as: AP All-America first team, AP College Player of the Year, Sporting News College Player of the Year, Sporting News All-America First Team, and he also won a spot on the gold medal-winning Olympic Basketball team. After a very successful college career, Michael went on to become the third pick in the first round of the NBA draft, by the Chicago Bulls.
On the struggling Chicago team, Jordan fit right in as their number one man. In just his first year, Michael averaged 28.8 points and was named the NBA rookie of the year. Then in 1986 Michael continued winning awards and breaking records, as he scored 3,041 points in one season to win his first of seven NBA scoring titles. It was one of the most statistically impressive seasons in recent memory, but it earned Jordan exactly nothing by way of post season honors. Although Jordan was unhappy with not receiving any honors for such a spectacular season, it didn t stop him from doing even better the next season. In the 1987-88 season Jordan was finally recognized as the great player that he was. Michael averaged over 35 points per game, winning the league MVP, NBA defensive Player of the Year, NBA All-star game MVP, and All-defensive first team. With all of these titles just in the first few years of Michael Jordan s career, it became evident that he would become a dominant force in the NBA. Only one achievement remained to put him in the same class with such players as: Julius Erving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson; and that was a championship. I think to be compared in that category you have to turn your team into a championship caliber club, Julius Erving said. In 1991 Jordan put all the critics doubts to rest, as he led the Bulls to their first NBA championship in the history of the franchise. Then in 1992 Jordan continued to amaze everybody with his incredible talents and all-around play, as he once again was named the Regular season MVP, finals MVP, and earned the second consecutive championship for the Chicago Bulls. The 1993 season was yet another tribute to Michael s greatness. In an almost effortless fashion, the Bulls, led by Jordan, would gain their third championship in as many years. Jordan had now captured seven straight scoring titles, over 20,000 points, 3 MVP s, and 3 championships. Feeling like there was nothing left to prove, and with the weight of his father s death on him, Michael retired from Basketball. Basketball fans around the world were in shock. Who would take the place of Michael Jordan? The league went on for two whole years without Michael. The popularity of the game died down, and the Chicago Bulls could accomplish little without him. Without a star, the entire game of basketball was at its lowest point in years. Only one man could bring back the enthusiasm and crowds of people that Michael Jordan had brought to the game, and that man was Michael Jordan himself. On March 19th 1995, Michael Jordan brought back all the spirit and excitement that he had left behind, as he returned to the Bull s starting lineup in a disappointing 103-96 overtime loss to Indiana. Then on May 18th, 1995, the Orlando Magic knocked the bulls out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Semi-finals. Questions soon arose about whether Jordan had lost his skills and ability to win a championship. In Jordan s first full season back with the bulls, they won a record 72 games in one season. Jordan also regained his title as regular season MVP, All-star Game MVP, and Finals MVP, and won yet another championship for Chicago. Then, in the same style as in years past, Michael led his team to victory two years straight, with a championship win over Utah in game six of the 1997 NBA finals. Once again Jordan was on top of the world, and he agreed to play for the Bulls for one more year, and it would turn out to be his last and most memorable year in the NBA. In 1998, Michael Jordan became only the third player in history to reach the 29,000-point mark. Then, on March 27, 1998, the largest crowd in NBA history 62,046 showed up at the Georgia Dome, anticipating Jordan s Retirement. In their usual form, The Chicago Bulls, with their leader Michael Jordan, once again found themselves in the NBA finals against the Utah Jazz. The Bulls were up in the series 3-2 and the Bulls needed one more game to win their third consecutive championship, and sixth of the decade. As the time wound down on the game the bulls needed one last shot to take the game and the championship. In what turned out to be the final shot of his career, Michael Jordan clinched the victory and his sixth and final NBA championship, leaving the league in true style and grace, and putting the final touches to a truly great NBA career. Now, as people look back on Michael Jordan s career and see everything he has accomplished, they wonder if there will ever be another as great as him. Nobody in the history of basketball has ever accomplished as much, and has had as big of an impact on the game as Michael Jordan. What player or athlete in history has ever brought as many fans and as much popularity to the sport that they play as Michael Jordan? Although people may come close to what Michael Jordan has achieved in sports they will never be able to surpass him. That s why Michael Jordan is both the greatest basketball player and the greatest athlete of all times.
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