Tag Archives: michael jordan

AmericanSportsHistory.com’s “Best Of 2014”

This past year has been the best calender year the site has ever seen. I feel like I have really gotten into a groove when it comes to chronicling some of American’s greatest athletes, moments and milestones. I want to thank all of my followers and readers for your support that you have shown ever since I began this writing adventure in 2012.

I am starting a new tradition this year. I am going to list some of my favorite articles that were published right here on AmericanSportsHistory.com. I hope you have enjoyed the site and keep coming back. Without any further ado here are my favorites from 2014!

Justin Hand
Founder, Owner and Writer
WWW.AmericanSportsHistory.com

The 1994 MLB Players Strike: The 20th Anniversary
https://americansportshistory.com/2014/08/11/the-1994-mlb-players-strike-the-20th-anniversary-2/

The History Of The Three-Point Line In The NBA
https://americansportshistory.com/2014/02/13/the-history-of-the-three-point-line-in-the-nba/

Historic Rookies: Gale Sayers In 1965
https://americansportshistory.com/2014/07/12/historic-rookies-gale-sayers-in-1965/

Michael Jordan: The Flu Game
https://americansportshistory.com/2014/06/11/michael-jordan-the-flu-game/

Marion Motley: Breaking The Color Barrier In Football
https://americansportshistory.com/2014/05/03/marion-motley-breaking-the-color-barrier-in-football/

370 Points : The Tale Of The Highest Scoring NBA Game Ever
https://americansportshistory.com/2014/02/10/370-points-the-tale-of-the-highest-scoring-nba-game-ever/

History Now: Kobe Bryant Passes Michael Jordan On The All Time Scoring List

On December 14, 2014 in Minnesota, Kobe Bryant made history and moved up on the NBA’s All Time Scoring list. In a game between the Los Langeles Lakers and the Minnesota Timberwolves, Bryant scored 29 points. With the points scored in this game Bryant now holds the 3rd spot on the NBA’s most precious record list. He passed Jordan on a free throw in the first half (Bryant’s first career point also came via a free throw). Following this milestone point Bryant received great applause from the Minnesota crowd and was congratulated by both teams.

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan during the 1997-1998 basketball season. (Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan during the 1997-1998 basketball season. (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan was the previously held the 3rd position with 32,292 points scored during his 14 seasons in the NBA. It took Kobe Bryant 19 seasons to pass the legendary Jordan. Bryant appears to be nearing the end of his career which would mean that he not move up any further on the list. Karl Malone is the NBA’s 2nd All Time Points Leader with 36,928 points. In order for Bryant to reach this mark he would need to stay healthy and play for at least 3-4 more seasons.

Kobe Byrant has had a few injury plagued seasons lately due to his age and the effects of 19 seasons in the NBA. Interesting enough Bryant broke another record this year in the NBA, most career missed shots. This happened on November 11, 2014 when missed his 13,418 missed shot.

Kobe Bryant (Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant (Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant is definitely a living legend and one of the all time great in the game of basketball. This latest accomplishment will surely have people debating whether he is a better player than Michael Jordan was. Beyond the records and accomplishments it is safe to say they were both two of the best basketball players of the modern era.

On This Day In 1993: The Chicago Bulls Won 3rd Straight Title

Twenty One years ago today the visiting Chicago Bulls defeated the Phoenix Suns in game 6 of the NBA Finals to win the series.  The Bulls won by a score of 99-98.    Michael Jordan was the leading scorer in the game with 33 points.  This was the Bulls 3rd consecutive NBA Championship.  This victory further increased Michael Jordan’s legacy as the greatest basketball player ever.  Jordan would later retire in October of 1993.  He would however come back in 1995 to win 3 more NBA Titles.

Michael Jordan: The Flu Game

In 1997 Michael Jordan had already amassed a career of incredible highlights and amazing records.  He had won 4 NBA titles, awarded as the NBA’s MVP 4 times and named the NBA Finals MVP 4 times.  His legacy was already set to be considered one of the greatest basketball players of all times.  Up to that point he had many memorable moments.  The most notable was the game against the Cavaliers in the NBA Playoffs were he made “The Shot” in 1989.  One of the last memorable moments and possibly the biggest of his career came in the 1997 NBA Finals.

On June 11, 1997 the Chicago Bulls took on the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was Game 5 of the NBA Finals and the series was tied at 2-2.  The day before the game Michael Jordan became severely ill.  Jordan had a fever and was not able to keep any food down.  He was found in the fetal position by his trainer and was very fatigued.  Many who were close to the situation believed there was no way he would play the next day.

Michael Jordan during "The Flu Game"  (Gety Images"

Michael Jordan during “The Flu Game” (Gety Images”

When the game started Michael Jordan was visibly weak and pale in color.  The Bulls fell to an early 16-point deficit in the second quarter and with Jordan not feeling well were in a hole.  At halftime the score was 53-49 in favor of the Jazz. The third quarter found Jordan on the bench trying to rest and looking in even worse shape than he had at the beginning of the game.  When the fourth quarter began Jordan was back in the game and scored 15 of the Bulls 23 points in the final quarter of the game. The most dramatic plays of the game came in the final minute.  Jordan was able to make a 3-pointer to give the Bulls a 88-85 lead with just 25 seconds remaining in the game.  The next play was a dunk by Greg Ostertag of the Jazz which took the Bulls lead to only one point.  The Bulls were able to raise the score again with a dunk by Luc Longley.  With just a few seconds remaining and the Jazz down by 3 points John Stockton was fouled and was now at the free throw line.  He needed to make both free throws for the Jazz to be able to stay in the game.  When he missed the first free throw the game was sealed.  The Bulls had over come this daunting game and won by a score of 90-88.  Michael Jordan then collapsed into Scottie Pippen’s arms, this image would forever be considered the trademark picture for this game.  Jordan finished the game with 39 points, 11 rebounds and 4 assists.

Scottie Pippen holding a weak Michael Jordan in the final seconds of "The Flu Game"  (Getty Images)

Scottie Pippen holding a weak Michael Jordan in the final seconds of “The Flu Game” (Getty Images)

The Bulls would go on to win Game 6 and their 5th NBA Title. It has been reported in later years that he did not have the flu but instead had food poisoning.  Regardless of that fact this game was an incredible show of strength and determination for Michael Jordan.  Jordan will be remembered long after his days on this earth and this game will be considered one of his best for all future generations who will read about him.

The 25th Anniversary Of “The Shot”- Michael Jordan’s First Legendary Moment

The career of Michael Jordan is rich with exciting and memorable moments.  His first amazing moment occurred in game 5 of the 1989 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference first round against the Cleveland Cavaliers.  The series had been hotly contested going into final and deciding game.  Both teams had won a game on the road and Jordan had scored no less than 30 points in each of the first four games.  The Cavs had firepower on their side as well with Mark Price, Ron Harper and Craig Ehlo.

On May 7th, 1989 in Cleveland, Ohio the stage was set for this historic game.  The fans of Cleveland had been criticized by the media for not being as excited and as loud as the Chicago fans, they were alive and loud for game 5 however.

As the game started the Cleveland faithful cheered their team to an early lead.  The Cavs were on top from the great play making of Ron Harper and Mark Price.  The Bulls only lead once in the first half and it was in the middle of the first quarter.  The Cavs would take the lead back and stay in the lead until the middle of the fourth quarter.

In the first half Jordan was somewhat cold going only 5-13 from the field with 14 points.  Bill Cartwright and Horace Grant forced themselves to the bench by getting into early foul trouble.  The Cavs looked ready to finish off the Bulls in the second half when halftime started.

The Second half is when Jordan became a major factor in the game.  He basically had no choice but to step up due to Cartwright and Grant sitting on the bench most of the third quarter.  The Bulls took the lead half way through the fourth quarter and then the game got even more insane. With both teams trading the lead leading up to the final 2 minutes.

With 1:07 left in the game Scottie Pippen who had struggled throughout the game finally showed up and hit a clutch 3 pointer to put the Bulls up 97-95.  Craig Ehlo would match him with a 3 pointer of his own and the Cavs were suddenly in the lead by a score of 98-97 with :50 on the clock.  Just 44 seconds later Jordan hit a jumper from the free throw line on an assist from Pippen putting the Bulls ahead 99-98.  The game looked all but over until Ehlo made a layup for the 100-99 lead with only 3 seconds remaining in the game.  The Bulls coach Doug Collins called a time out and positioned Jordan for history.

Michael Jordan seconds after making "The Shot" (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan seconds after making “The Shot” (Getty Images)

Center Brad Sellers in bounded the ball to Jordan who was in 3 point territory.  Jordan took the ball up about twelve feet and hit “The Shot”.  Craig Ehlo tried desperately to block Jordan’s shot but was unsuccessful.  The clock ran to :00 as the ball made it through the hoop.

Ehlo has been made part of history in video clips of Jordan celebrating this moment while Ehlo collapses on the sideline in defeat.  The Bulls were headed to the next round and the city of Cleveland had another heartbreaking sports moment to add to their long list of disappointments.

Jordan was the leading scorer in the game with 44 points, 30 of which came in the last half of the game.  The next highest scoring player from either team was Craig Ehlo who had 24 points off the bench.  Mark Price also had a really good game with 23 points many of which were crucial 3 point shots.

Michael Jordan and the Bulls went on to beat Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks in the second round of the Playoffs.  They would later fall to the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals.  But this moment would become the history that Jordan and the Bulls were built on.  The Bulls won their first NBA title two years later and the rest is history.

History Now: Kobe Bryant Reaches 4th On The All Time Scoring List

On Saturday night March 30, 2013 Kobe Bryant moved up on the all time scoring list.  Kobe Bryant surpassed NBA Hall Of Famer Wilt Chamberlain to become 4th on the list of the basketball greatest scorers.  Bryant scored 19 points in the Lakers victory over the Kings in Sacramento, CA.  Bryant now stands at 31,434 points for his career.

He now is behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Michael Jordan.  Jordan is holding the 3rd spot on the list with 32,292.  There are only 858 points separating Jordan and Kobe now.  Bryant has already scored 1931 points this season.  He has scored 2,000 points per season through his career.  It is highly likely he will pass Jordan next season and take the 3rd position on the all time scoring list.  When he passes Jordan he will elevate his legacy to the highest degree.  Jordan is the Babe Ruth of basketball and this feat will cause many to rethink who was greater.

Kobe Bryant (Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant (Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant has been a very talented, entertaining and accomplished player during his career.  He has had some off court issues and even some locker room drama.  However when his career is over, his off court issues will pail in comparison to what he accomplished in the game.  Kobe Bryant is a legendary player and we are lucky to be able to see the greatness he produces every night.  This will be an exciting year coming up.

How The 1994 MLB Strike Ended Michael Jordan’s Baseball Career

In November of 1993 just shortly after the murder of his father, Michael Jordan retired from basketball.  Jordan had revolutionized basketball with his high skill set and magnetic charisma. He had already cemented his position in the Hall Of Fame and was arguably the most popular athlete in the history of America. After nine seasons in the NBA and three straight NBA titles it was all over.

As 1994 began Michael Jordan soon announced that he would try his hand at professional baseball.  Mostly because it was the one sport his father wanted to see him succeed at when he was growing up.  It would be a tribute to his father he said. The owner of the Chicago Bulls was Jerry Reinsdorf and he also happened to own the Chicago White Sox.  Reinsdorf being the smart and adventurous business man he was knew that Michael Jordan would be a huge money draw in baseball.  He agreed to sign Jordan to a minor league contract and pay him the same amount that he was contracted to receive with his Bulls contract.  It was a done deal and the media and fans clamored to see Jordan make his debut in baseball.

Michael Jordan the "baseball player" (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan the “baseball player” (Getty Images)

As spring training began for the White Sox in Sarasota, Florida the Michael Jordan circus began.  The media was always around and were focused solely on Jordan.  They followed his batting practices, fielding practices and watched his every move.  The fans also swarmed him every chance they could get, hoping they could snag an autograph of one of the greatest basketball players ever.  The attendance for White Sox games that spring shot through the roof and many fans were unable to even get a ticket to the spring games.  Michael Jordan played his first official spring training game on March 3, 1994 as an outfielder.  He would play 17 games that spring and on March 31, 1994 was optioned to the White Sox minor league affiliate the Birmingham Barons.

The city of Birmingham was set on fire by the Michael Jordan experience.  They sold out more games than they had ever before and had major media at almost every game.  It was a treat for the fans of the Barons to get to see such a great athlete trying to make it in a sport he had not played since high school.  Jordan had an average season with many ups and downs.  He batted .202, hit 3 home runs and batted in 51 runs.  Jordan played 127 games in that season and struck out 114 times.  He definitely had a rough time but did make improvements by the end of the season.

Jordan being Jordan wanted to work more on his baseball skills and decided to play in the Arizona Fall League following his first minor league season.  In that short season for the Scottsdale Scorpions Jordan batted a .252.  While not great by professional baseball standards he did improve even more in the fall league and was poised to continue his development in 1995.

Unfortunately Major League Baseball was still dealing with the 1994 players strike when the 1995 Spring Training season was to begin.  As the battle between the owners and the players union intensified the lines were being drawn.  The players were deciding whether to sit out until a deal could be arranged or to play anyways.  Jordan reported to camp in Florida initially in February of 1995. He would end up deciding in March not to be involved in the drama and chose to sit out while the strike continued.

It was during this time in mid march of 1995 Jordan attended a Chicago Bulls game.  just two weeks later he was on the court playing basketball again.  Many fans where excited to have his talents back in basketball and did not care that he quite his baseball career.  Jordan would go onto win three more NBA Titles and retired from basketball for good after the 2002-03 season.

Because his basketball career picked up right where it left off in 1993 not many questioned the decision.  It makes one wonder almost two decade’s later what would have been if not for the baseball players strike of 1994.  Would Michael Jordan continued until he was either cut or made it to the Major Leagues?  That is hard to say but it was clear he was on the right track to eventually play at the Major League level.  He was only 32 when he went back to basketball and had time to develop into an even better baseball player.

We will never know where baseball could have taken Michael Jordan.  We wont ever know where Jordan could have taken baseball had he stayed.  The popularity of baseball would have likely increased after the horrible strike and maybe Jordan could have been the face of baseball.  All we can do now is imagine what could have been but it is clear to see that the baseball strike deterred Jordan from continuing his baseball dream.

1992 NBA All Star Game “The Greatest All Star Moment”

The NBA has had an All Star game since 1951.  With the greatest of all time having competed in this contest it is no surprise it has been the place for great moments.  The greatest NBA All Star moment came in the 1992 game.

The game took place in Orlando, Florida and featured a class of superstars the likes of which will never be seen again.  Great players like Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone and David Robinson just to name a few.   The roster was so stacked that 11 of the 12 players that would make up the 1992 “Dream Team” were on the floor that day.

Image(Photo: Magic Johnson with the MVP trophy/Getty Images)

The biggest name in the lineup was Magic Johnson.  Magic had retired from the game of basketball in November of 1991.  This came at the same time he made a shocking announcement that he had contracted HIV.  The sports world was devastated by this news.

Magic Johnson had been revered as one of the greatest players of all time.  He transformed the point guard position into what it has become today.  The tragic news also brought the realization that he would never play again. There was however one thing that everyone forgot about, Magic’s determination and drive.

Magic Johnson came back to basketball after 3 months out of the game to a standing ovation.  The stage was set for Magic to steal the show and boy did he.  Magic played 29 minutes and scored a total of 25 points in this game for the ages.  He battled it out with Michael Jordan who was also a mega star at that time.  Magic played with a youthful spirit.  You can watch now in 2013 and still feel the excitement and energy that was alive in the Orlando Arena.

Magic Johnson finished the game by going one on one with both Isaiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.  He sank a 3 pointer with 14 seconds left on the clock to score the final points of the game.  The final 14 seconds were not played.  There was no reason the game was already out of reach for the East who lost by a score of 153-113.  It was an incredible moment and the right way to end the game, with Magic on top.  Magic was awarded the MVP trophy and lauded by all of his peers and the fans in the Arena.

It was to be Magic Johnson’s swan song.  However he would end up on the 1992 Olympics Basketball team.  Even though his career had more moments that followed that All Star game.  His greatest came on that court in Orlando.

On This Day In 1993: Michael Jordan Scored His 20,000th Point

Michael Jordan (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan (Getty Images)

Twenty years ago today Michael Jordan hit a scoring milestone in his career.  It was January the 8th, 1993.  The Chicago Bulls were taking on the Milwaukee Bucks at home.  The Bulls won by a score of 120-95.  The Bulls continued on a season that would bring them another NBA title.  During the game Jordan scored his 20,000th career point.  The moment came when Jordan drained a 3 point shot with 5:12 left to go in the game.  He was taken out just seconds later and ended the game with exactly 20,000 points.  He did so in just his 9th NBA season and in his 620th NBA game.

The only other player to reach that scoring mark in a shorter amount time was Wilt Chamberlain.  Chamberlain reached the mark of 20,000 career points in his 499th game.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the all time scoring leader with 38,387.  Karl Malone holds the 2nd spot with 36,928 points.  Jordan is in 3rd place with 32,292 career points.

Cleveland Sports “The Heartbreaking History”

My friend George, who is the biggest Browns fan I know came to me with an idea for an article.  The idea was to cover the negative history of sports teams in Cleveland.  I took that Idea and turned it into what you are about to read.  George, this is for you brother!

Cleveland has a history of bad luck and heartbreaking defeats when it comes to its sports franchises.  From the “Fumble” to Lebron’s “Decision”.  There have also been some incredible times for Cleveland’s sports franchises, however the bad far out way the good.  Cleveland is a city that loves it’s sports, unfortunately sports gods do not care for Cleveland very much.  I am going to take you on a trip through the history of Cleveland sports.  So sit back, relax and revel in Cleveland’s sorrows.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Michael Jordan celebrating the “Shot”
(Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavs have had many Horrible season.  The team has held the franchise record for most loses in a season with 67, twice.  The first came in their inaugural season of 1970-71 and the second  during the 1981-82 season.   The team made a strong run in 1989 only to fall hard to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  The game became known for the “Shot”, it was the final game in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  The moment was considered one of the greatest clutch moments in the history of Michael Jordan’s career.  It was one of the worst moments in history of the Cavileers.  The Cavs have never won an NBA Title, not even with the great Lebron James.  The team has only made one trip to the NBA Finals, in 2007 the Cavs were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.  The City has Lebron James to blame for one of their many horrible moments.  In 2010 Lebron had an ESPN special live from a Boys and Girls Club in his home town of Akron, Oh.  Many thought because of the location he would be announcing that he would be staying in Cleveland.  He instead announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat.  That infamous broadcast is known as the “Decision” The City was in an uproar and Lebron jerseys were quickly being thrown away and even burned in the streets of the City who’s heart he broke.  The team followed up the “Decision” with one of the worst seasons in the history of the NBA.  The team lost a record tying 26 games in a row in the 2010-11 season.  The Cavs are 2 years removed from that fateful night and have never been able to get over it.  The team may be destined to dwell in the sadness that is Cleveland sports forever.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians lose to the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series
(Getty Images)

The Indians are one of the teams that have been successful at times but have had more bad seasons than good ones.  The team has two World Series Championships.  The first came in 1920 and the most recent was back in 1948.  The Indians have added to the cities history of heartbreak over the years.   From 1960-1993 the team never made the playoffs and spent most of their seasons in last place.  In 1995 the Indians were one of the best teams in the MLB, until they made it to the World Series and lost to the Braves in 6 games.  The team made another trip to the World Series in 1997.  The tribe lost the series to the Florida Marlins in a devastating late inning Game 7 affair in Miami.  The team has been through countless rebuilding periods, all with no success.  The team was even featured as lovable losers and misfits in the major motion picture “Major League”.  The Indians are only second to one other team in the city of heart break, The Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns Earnest Byner seconds after the “Fumble”
(Getty Images)

The city’s most devastating stories and moments have come from their football team, the Browns.  The team had early success in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The Hall Of Fame Quarterback Otto Graham led the team to ten straight championship games with the Browns winning 7 of them.  The team found great success with Hall Of Fame running back Jim Brown.  Brown played with the team in the 60’s and 70’s and established himself as one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL.  The 1980’s brought the team some success. Led by their young quarterback Bernie Kosar, the team made it to the AFC Championship game twice.  Both meetings were against the rival Denver Broncos and their superstar QB John Elway.  The first of those championship meetings came in the 1986 AFC Championship game.  The Browns were leading the Broncos and had them pinned down on their own 2 yard line with 5 minutes and 11 seconds to play.  John Elway was about to show the world that he was one of the best of that era with the “Drive”.  Elway led his team all of the way down the field to score a touchdown and tie the game at 20-20.  The damage had been done and Cleveland lost the game 23-20 in overtime.  The “Drive” took place in Cleveland but that wasn’t the last quotable game to take place at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.  In the 1987 AFC Championship Game the Broncos came into town again.  This time the Browns dominated the Broncos for most of the game and looked to be the AFC Champions.  Then the unthinkable happened again, this moment was to be known as the “Fumble”.   With the game tied 30-30 Kosar and the Browns were on the Broncos 8 yard line with 1 minute and 12 seconds left on the clock.  Kosar took the snap and handed the ball off to running back Earnest Byner for what looked like and open touchdown run.  Out of nowhere came the Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille who stripped Byner of the ball. The Broncos took the intentional safety and ended up scoring a touchdown with less than a minute to play in the game.  The Broncos defeated the Browns by a score of 38-33.  The city of Cleveland has never fully recovered from the “Drive” or the “Fumble”.  In 1995 The Browns played their final game in Cleveland before owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore to become the Ravens.  Modell claimed that he moved the team because he was losing money and could not keep the team the city without a new stadium.  He petitioned for a new stadium for years and saw a new ballpark go up and a new arena be constructed while he was left without tax payer support and a dilapidated stadium.  The Browns would return in 1999 as an expansion team but still had rights to the history of the team unlike other cities who lost their teams and history like Houston.  The “new” Browns have only made it to the playoffs once.  There was hope for the team with new ownership to turn things around in 2012.  The Browns were shut out of the playoffs for another season this year.

All of Cleveland’s major sports teams have gone through hardships. The Browns are by far Cleveland’s most heartbreaking team with a history that will not let the fans of Cleveland rest easy.  Any time something goes well for any of their teams disappointment is sure to follow.  Maybe one day the sports gods will treat the great fans of Cleveland to some success and happiness.

*UPDATE*

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to become NBA Champions for the first time in their history.  They also ended the decades long championship drought for the city of Cleveland.  This event was aided by LeBron James returning to Cleveland in 2014.