Michael Jordan's 10 Greatest Moments

Bill DiFilippoContributor IIIFebruary 17, 2012

Michael Jordan's 10 Greatest Moments

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    On February 17th, 2012, Michael Jordan will be turning 49 years young.

    While he may be one of the worst owners in the NBA right now, there is little question that "His Airness" is the greatest basketball player to ever live.

    In honor of his birthday, here are the 10 greatest moments of Michael Jordan's career.

Honorable Mention: Space Jam

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    For those of you unaware, Space Jam was MJ's first feature film.

    In the film, Jordan teamed up with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Looney Tunes (along with Newman from Seinfeld and Bill Murray) to take on the Monstars, a group of aliens that steal the talent from NBA players such as Patrick Ewing and Larry Johnson with the intent of enslaving the Looney Tunes as an attraction at their amusement park, "Moron Mountain."

    As you can guess from my synopsis, Space Jam is arguably the best film to ever pair Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes. In fact, I'll go as far as to say that Space Jam IS the best film to ever pair MJ and the Looney Tunes.

No. 10: 40 Years Old, 40 Points

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    If you're like me, you probably have blocked out MJ's comeback with the Washington Wizards during the early part of the 2000s.

    While it was obvious Jordan wasn't the same player that he was during his years with the Chicago Bulls, he did have some stellar outings, including this one.

    On February 21st, 2003, His Airness scored 43 points against the New Jersey Nets. In the process, he became the first 40-year-old to score 43 points in a game.

No. 9: 1989-90 Playoffs

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    This wasn't really a "moment." However, it's fair to say that Jordan had his best performance in these playoffs.

    Despite receiving the most attention from opposing defenses, Jordan managed to average 36.7 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.8 assists per game.

    Unfortunately, the Bulls fell in seven games to the Detroit Pistons, who were known for their "Jordan Rules" when they faced the young superstar.

No. 8: The Shrug

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    If Michael Jordan had one Achilles' heel during his career, it was his 32.7 percent shooting from beyond the arc.

    However, in the first half of Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals, Jordan got hot from deep.

    In the first half, Jordan knocked down six threes and scored 35 points.

    His sixth and final three led to one of the iconic moments of MJ's career, which led this game to be simply known as "The Shrug Game."

No. 7: 63 Points Against the Celtics

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    You can make a really good argument that the 1986 Boston Celtics were the greatest team in NBA history. One of their guards, Dennis Johnson, was arguably the best defensive guard in basketball history.

    Nobody told Michael Jordan.

    In a thrilling double-overtime loss to the eventual champions, Jordan dropped 63 points and set the NBA record for most points in a playoff game.

    In 26 years since, that record remains unbroken.

    If you're interested in watching the entire game and have 2.5 hours to waste, someone uploaded the entire contest to YouTube. Enjoy.

No. 6: Jordan Wins His First Title

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    Seven years after entering the NBA, Michael Jordan finally ascended to the top of the mountain and won his first title.

    In the 1990-91 playoffs, the Bulls took down the New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers before entering a showdown with the Detroit Pistons.

    In the Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan finally conquered Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and the rest of "Bad Boys," leading to Detroit famously walking off the court without congratulating the Bulls.

    In the Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Jordan continued to work his magic. In Game 2, Jordan made his famous layup where he switched hands in mid air to avoid Sam Perkins.

    The Bulls beat the Lakers, 4-1. Jordan had 31.2 points, 11.4 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals per game in the series. 

No. 5: Dunk Contest Victories

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    While there really is no prestige to winning the Dunk Contest, Jordan put on shows in 1987 and 1988.

    These contests gave us some of the iconic Jordan moments, including his "Rock the Cradle" dunk and both of his dunks from the free-throw line.

    While there is some controversy over whether he or Dominique Wilkins should have won in 1988, nobody can deny that MJ put on a show for the ages. 

No. 4: The Shot (Pro Edition)

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    When you really think about it, isn't MJ's shot over Craig Ehlo one of the most incredible shots in NBA history?

    Jordan's momentum is bringing him left, yet he jumps straight up, keeps his body squared to the hoop and releases the ball on his way back down to the ground, all while he has Craig Ehlo's hand in his face. If Jordan misses, the Bulls are bounced from the playoffs and the Cavaliers go on to face the Knicks.

    However, Jordan nails the shot and sends the Bulls to the Eastern Conference semifinals. Not bad for a 25-year-old. 

No. 3: The Shot (College Edition)

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    Michael Jordan's legacy wasn't born in the NBA; it started as a member of the North Carolina Tar Heels.

    In what is probably his greatest moment as a collegiate, Jordan gets the ball on the wing and drills a jumper for what would end up being the game-winning basket against Patrick Ewing's Georgetown Hoyas.

    While James Worthy would end up being named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, it was Jordan's heroics that gave legendary coach Dean Smith his first National Title.   

No. 2: The Flu Game

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    When most of us have the flu, we lay in bed, sweat profusely, take a boatload of medicine and maybe have one or two bowls of soup.

    When His Airness has the flu, he plays 44 minutes and drops 38 on the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals to give the Bulls a 3-2 series lead with a 90-88 win.

    This game gave us one of the most famous images of Jordan's careers. After dismantling the Karl Malone's Jazz and willing the Bulls to a win, Jordan collapsed into Scottie Pippen's arms. The Bulls would go on the win the next game in Chicago and win their fifth NBA Championship. 

No. 1: Jordan's Final Shot

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    In the history of the NBA, there are certain moments that stand out as "iconic." These include Magic Johnson's hook shot, Larry Bird's steal against the Lakers, Willis Reed playing hurt, Derek Fisher's catch-and-shoot with 0.4 seconds on the clock and that time Kwame Brown threw a cake at a fan.

    However, all these moments pale in comparison to Jordan's dagger against the Jazz in 1998.

    Jordan, isolated one-on-one with Bryon Russell, dribbled, busted out a devastating crossover that caused Russell to slip and fall (partly because Jordan gently pushed him, but whatever) and knocked down a game-winning jumper to cap off a 45-point night.

    Bob Costas said it best on the broadcast: "If that's the last image of Michael Jordan, how magnificent is it?"

    While it wasn't, Jordan's jumper against the Jazz to win one last title was the most spectacular moment of his career. With a career like MJ's, that's saying something.