Career of a Legend: Michael Jordan's Career Reduced to 10 Moments

Joe WillettSenior Writer IAugust 14, 2009

Michael Jordan has a career that is paralleled by no other man in professional basketball. With all the games, titles, dunks, endorsements, and retirements, no other player has done so much for a game.

Maybe it's because he is the only player who we can definitively say is the best of all time or that so many that are alive today were able to watch the brilliance that was Jordan playing basketball. Something about the name Michael Jordan brings greatness to the mind more so than any other name in sports.

To commemorate this, Jordan and Gatorade have again joined forces to create a new product that has Jordan's name on the logo and will have fans heading to their closest convenient store to get their hands on Jordan Gatorade.

Gatorade has taken initiative to get the word out to as many fans as possible by creating an application for social networking site Facebook to rank Michael Jordan's Ultimate G Moment.

Although there are many great moments in Jordan's storied career, Gatorade has teemed up with a group of top journalists from national outlets such as ESPN and YAHOO! Sports to Chicago-area journalists from WGN.

However, Gatorade doesn't leave the ranking up to the professionals, but to the fan, and they are receiving plenty of votes.

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To commemorate not only the product, but the career of Jordan, I will take the moments available to vote for and give my own ranking for which moment was the greatest in the storied career of Michael Jordan.

10. Jordan's Record Setting Loss

Had the Bulls actually pulled out this game, it would have been much higher on this list, but Jordan was still the story of the game against the Celtics (a game which was lost in double overtime).

Jordan was able to drop 63 points on the Celtics and set an NBA record for points in a playoff game.  Although the Bulls lost the game, Jordan's performance is still remembered as a great playoff performance. 

9. Young Jordan Makes Big Waves

Jordan was big in his college career, don't get me wrong, but there was nowhere near as much hype as he had once he hit the NBA.

But just because he wasn't in the NBA didn't mean he wasn't hitting shots (ex: his game-winning shot in the closing seconds of the 1982 NCAA Championship Game), and he was definitely able to make some outstanding dunks.

His biggest dunk in college was his famous "Rock the Cradle" dunk.  Sure, this dunk was used multiple times throughout his career, but when he first unveiled it in 1984, it gave him the credibility necessary to become the best NBA player of all time.

8. MJ Dunks on Ewing

During the 1991 playoffs, the Bulls were playing at none other than the storied Madison Square Garden (I know—you weren't to go this long to find an MSG moment).

On the play, Jordan shook two double teams on his way to the hoop where he was met by Knicks great and candy bar spokesperson Patrick Ewing (Chewing?).  But instead of making an acrobatic move to get around Ewing and get the lay-up, he went straight to the hoop and over Ewing, with an outstanding posterizing dunk.

This moment is great because Jordan was able to capitalize on three things.  Timing (it was in the playoffs), placement (it happened in Jordan's favorite arena not named the United Center) and star-power (any time Jordan and Ewing are in the same highlight, it's something great).

7. The Double Nickel

Michael Jordan retired three in his career, and he returned to the NBA after two of them. His weirdest experience was when he retired to join the MLB, where he signed with the Chicago White Sox (which is probably why he played so badly, but I'll leave my Sox-bashing for a baseball article).

When he came back, he was just as good as ever, and he showed it to the world in his fifth game back from retirement. Jordan took complete control of the game, scoring 55 points. However, the biggest moment of the game had nothing to do with his scoring, but his passing.

As the game was winding down, Jordan shocked the world yet again. With the game on the line and the ball in his hands, Jordan found an open Bill Wennington and got the assist on the game-winning shot.

Said Wennington after the game, "Michael Jordan is probably the only player in the world who can score 55 points and his biggest play of the game is a pass. You can never predict what he's going to do."

6. 1998 All-Star Weekend

For Michael Jordan, the 1998 All-Star weekend was the perfect way to show that, despite being well past the decade mark in NBA experience, he can still play with all the young guys and show them how basketball is played.

After winning the Dunk Contest earlier in the week, Jordan dominated the All-Star Game, scoring 40 points.  But the best part of the week for Jordan financially was the release of his signature shoe, the Air Jordan 3.

5. 6 Treys, 1 Shrug

I had to steal the name from Gatorade for this moment because no other words immortalize this moment like no other.

Jordan hit a record six three-point shots in the first half of Game One of the 1992 NBA finals and, as if to let the crowd know that he knows what he's doing, gave a shrug towards the crowd.

Some may have called it a cocky move, but most call it another chapter in the outstanding career of the greatest player of all time.

4. Jordan's First Title, But Not His Last

Although Jordan won six NBA Championships in his career, his first is just as special as any of them because of the way that he reacted.

Jordan was completely aware of the greatness he achieved, and he showed it as he let out all of the emotion that he had, crying like a baby holding onto the trophy.  Through all of the happiness and champagne, Jordan's tears were the main story from a championship season.

3. The Shot(s)

The city of Cleveland has been host to many great moments, although most of them have come courtesy of other teams.  Without a doubt, the best moment Cleveland has seen was Michael Jordan's game-winning shot, which was deemed "The Shot."

As the clock wound down in Game Five of the first round of the 1989 NBA playoffs, Jordan dropped a big shot with six seconds left to give the Bulls the lead 99-98, but this game was far from over.

After a Cleveland timeout, Craig Ehlo scored on a lay-up to put the Cavs back up 100-99 to seemingly win the game and diminish what was a great shot by Jordan, but he wouldn't have it that way.

Jordan, in a way that only he could, turned Craig Ehlo from the hero of the night into the guy that got scored on to win the game, as Jordan hit a shot over Ehlo to put the Bulls up 101-100 and win the series.

However, the best way to describe the moment is to know what was said during it. Here is what Jim Durham of the Bulls Radio Network said as the play unfolded.

"The inbounds pass comes in to Jordan. Here's Michael at the foul line, the shot on Ehlo...good! The Bulls win! They win! They beat Cleveland Cavaliers! Michael Jordan hits at the foul line! 101-100! 20,273 in stunned silence here in the Coliseum. Michael Jordan with 44 points in a game hit the shot over Craig Ehlo. What tremendous heroics we have had in Game Five. From both teams, what a spectacular series this has been. In my days in the NBA, 16 years, greatest series I've ever seen."

2. 1996 NBA Title

Michael Jordan's timing for a great moment has been noted throughout this article, but no moment had better timing than his winning of the 1996 NBA Title.

In 1993, Jordan's father was murdered, which caused his first retirement.  But when he returned, he was hungrier than ever to make the Bulls the best team of all time.  He did that in 1996 when the Bulls went 72-10, the best record in the history of the NBA.

The Bulls stampeded through the playoffs and easily won another NBA Championship, but to Jordan, this one was worth so much more than the others.

This title was won on Fathers Day, and the timing turned Jordan from a Hall-of-Fame all-time great into somebody who had no words, just tears.  But these tears were different from the ones that fell from his eyes after his first title, these were for his dad.

The image of Michael Jordan clutching his trophy covered in tears while lying on the floor is an image that brings reminds you that, despite all the talent, he has all of the same emotions that regular people have.

1. The Shot: 1998 NBA Finals Game Six

This moment stands above all the rest because it shows all of Jordan's repertoire.  He is  nine-time All-NBA Defensive Team player and a Defensive Player of the Year winner, yet many of Jordan's great moments revolve around his outstanding ability to make an acrobatic move to get to the hoop.

However, this moment includes everything that Jordan can do, starting with a steal from the great Karl Malone, all the way to his game-winning shot with 5.2 seconds left on the clock, I will let Neil Funk from the Chicago Bulls radio network describe this moment.

"Malone...stripped by Michael, to the floor, stolen by M.J!  Michael the steal!  16 seconds left, Bulls down 1, Michael against Russell, 12 seconds...11...10.  Jordan, Jordan a drive, hangs...fires...SCORE!  He scores!  The Bulls lead 87-86 with five and two tenths left, and now they're one stop away.  Oh my goodness.  Oh, my, goodness."

I'm Joe W.

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