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Historic Rookies: Michael Jordan In 1984-85

During the 1984 NBA Draft a player would be selected by a team that needed a super star to lead them into the future. The NBA was also about to gain a future legend that is still talked three decades later. This player was none other than the University of North Carolina guard Michael Jordan. Jordan was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 3rd overall pick that year. His rookie season was a peak into what the future of basketball and American sports was about to become.

Michael Jordan during his rookie season. (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan during his rookie season. (Getty Images)

Michael Jordan made his NBA debut on October 26, 1984. His Chicago Bulls were hosting the Washington Bullets. Much was expected from this rookie from North Carolina. Jordan had a solid game putting up 16 points, 7 assists, and went 6 for 7 at the free throw line. The Bulls beat the Bullets by a score of 109-93. As the season went on Jordan popularity would rise just like he would glide to the basket for one of his highlight reel dunks.

The Sports Illustrated cover that would add to Michael Jordan's superstar status. (Sports Illustrated)

The Sports Illustrated cover that would add to Michael Jordan’s superstar status. (Sports Illustrated)

Before the end of 1984 Michael Jordan graced the cover of the iconic Sports Illustrated Magazine with the quote “A Star Is Born”. In early 1985 before the NBA All-Star Game the fans voted Jordan into the mid season classic featuring the leagues best players. Jordan faced some jealousy from his fellow players for the success he had achieved just a few months into his career. The most notable was Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas who has been the previous years All Star Game MVP. It has been said over the years that Thomas was trying to get the players on the Eastern Division Team to keep the ball out of Jordan’s hands and make him look like less of a star in the game. Jordan was was able to contribute in the game but hardly was the star of the game. Jordan scored only 7 points in his All Star debut.

The Chicago Bulls ended the regular season with a record of 38-44 and received a playoff birth. The Bulls lost their first round playoff series to the Milwaukee Bucks 3-1.

Michael Jordan played all 82 games for the Bulls in his debut season and put up outstanding numbers for a rookie. Jordan scored 2,313 points, 481 assists and had a free throw percentage of .845. He was also named the NBA Rookie of the year. Jordan would not win his first NBA Title until the 1990-91 season. He retired from the game for the third and final time following the 2002-2003 NBA Season. Jordan scored 32,292 points, won 6 NBA Titles and 6 NBA Finals MVP Awards during his career among many of his other accomplishments. He is considered by many to be the most popular American athelete since Babe Ruth and the greatest basketball player ever.

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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.

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.

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.

Babe Ruth: Hall Of Fame Pitcher?

Babe Ruth is by far the greatest Icon in American sports history.  Some would even argue he is the greatest American Icon period.  Everyone from Grandma to your 5 year old niece or nephew knows who Babe Ruth was.  Most people associate Ruth with his legendary slugging days with the New York Yankees.  Ruth even held the Home Run record in Major League Baseball until Hank Aaron broke that record in the 1970’s.  What many people don’t know is that Ruth had a history before the all of those home runs and before the Yankees.

Babe Ruth while he was with the Boston Red. Getty Images

Babe Ruth while he was with the Boston Red. Getty Images

Babe Ruth made his Major League debut on July 11th, 1914 for the Boston Red Sox.  Ruth won that game; it was the beginning of Ruth’s pitching career.  His pitching career spanned from 1914-1919, all of those seasons with the Boston Red Sox.  Ruth did however pitch 5 games with the Yankees years later and won all 5.  He made the starting rotation for the Sox in 1915 and won 18 games in his first full season.   Ruth started batting in the lineup when not pitching halfway through his time with the Sox.  He had signs of being a great offensive player but was still used primarily as a pitcher.
He went on to have a very respectable pitching career.  He helped pitch the Red Sox to 3 World Series Championships in just 6 seasons.  When Ruth retired he had 94 career wins and a career ERA of 2.28 with 488 strikeouts.  Babe Ruth would be sold to the Yankees in a deal that changed the face of American Sports history.
The Yankees played Babe Ruth in the Outfield and all but ended his pitching career.  There are many people who feel that Ruth could have gone into the Hall Of Fame based on his pitching stats alone.  There is no arguing that Ruth was a great pitcher, but his time in that position pales in comparison to his slugging years.
It really makes you wonder how American Sports would be different if Babe Ruth had not gone to the Yankees and become a baseball hero.  The fact of the matter is as big of an icon Ruth became there would have been no way he would have become so without his years with the Yankees.  The Yankees gave him a grand stage and opportunity to become the Icon he became.  They also surrounded him with other legendary players.

It should not be forgotten just how great Babe Ruth was as an all around baseball player.  While not the most athletic player to grace a baseball field, he was by far the most dynamic.  Ruth was and forever will be America’s first sports legend.

“The Fall Out” How Jon Jones Killed UFC 151

The UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones helped make history this past week.  It was not good history by any means.  The UFC was forced to cancel their September 1st show in Las Vegas.  Jones is completely responsible for this cancellation.  When his challenger went down due to injury on Thursday a wild ride began that did not slow down until Friday afternoon.

Jon Jones
(Getty Images)

UFC President Dana White was able to get a replacement in Chael Sonnen.  Jones would not face Sonnen with only 8 days before the fight.  Jones’ Coach Greg Jackson tried to take the blame for not letting his fighter take the fight.  With that situation Dana White was forced to cancel the show and blamed Jackson for being a “sport killer”.

The next option for the fight was Lyoto Machida.  Machida was due a title shot but not this soon.  It was announced that Machida would take the place of Henderson and the fight would be moved to the UFC 152 show on September 22nd in Toronto.  Machida later declined and the UFC went after another former champion to fill the spot.  That former champion was Shogun Rua, he too declined the fight.

With no other options for a main event fighter for Jones, Dana White chose UFC veteran Vitor Belfort.  Belfort accepted and the fight will take place on the UFC 152 show.   Belfort has great hands but does not have the genetic gifts that Jones possesses.  Belfort is much like a Dan Henderson type fighter in the sense that he is a dangerous veteran that could win but will likely lose.  This 24 hour period of insanity is a true low point for the UFC.

Traditionally when a fighter goes down due to injury the replacement is usually accepted by the remaining fighter.  Jones did not want to follow suit.  Because of this he will drive his appeal down with a fan base that does not really see him as a star yet.  Jones is a fan favorite for the hardcore MMA fans but not casual fans who are the ones that really make or break a star and a champion at the ticket window.  Jones has gone Heel (a pro wrestling term for bad guy) but he is doing it the wrong way.

MMA has had its share of heels through its history.   The most recent being Brock Lesnar and Chael Sonnen.  Both of those fighters know what they are doing with their characters and play the role well.  They make calculated moves that make themselves the bad guys but still marketable and appealing.  Jones does not have the personality or the where with all to be a true heel.

Marketing was stated as a possible reason Jones did not take the fight.  Jones was worried that he may not keep his hot streak alive and possibly lose and hurt his selling potential.  If that was his concern he would have taken the fight with Sonnen.  Even if he lost and came back to another title shot he would be in a better light and position than he is by not taking this fight.  Sonnen was the perfect opponent, he had not been training and would be moving up a weight class.  Jones on the other hand would be peaking for the fight still and would have had 3 months of training under his belt.  Now Jones will be know as the man responsible for destroying UFC 151.

There are many victims from Jones’ decision.  The Cable companies who promoted the fight and where counting on their percentage of the PPV numbers.  The UFC has also spent a lot of money promoting the fight, they even had a huge billboard at Times Square in New York City.  The fighters who will have to wait on a pay day because their fight has to be moved to October or even November.  The most hurt will be the fans who have spent their money to fly into Las Vegas, stay in a hotel  and wait to have their tickets refunded by the UFC.

Jon Jones will likely become a villain from this situation, which for most fighters could be a positive thing.  Not for Jones who needs to be liked.  He recently signed a deal with Nike and when it come to merchandise if you are not liked people will not buy you things.  Jones has a long road ahead of him, can he shake this situation?  Maybe, he could come out on UFC 152 and knock out Belfort and everyone will forget about this like it never happened.  It could be something that sticks with him his entire career and effects his earning and drawing potential.

“The Show Must NOT Go On” UFC 151 canned 8 days out

UFC President Dana White
(Photo By: Buda Mendes/Getty Images)

Dana White made a decision he has never made before today.  In a press conference on Thursday White announced that Dan Henderson had suffered a partial MCL tear and was out of the UFC 151 Main Event.  Henderson was set to face UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones on September 1st in Las Vegas.  White did have a back up plan when Henderson went down, Chael Sonnen was willing to step in to face Jones.  Jones however refused to take on Sonnen with only 8 days notice.  White had no choice but to cancel the show.  He had no other fights at the ready or that were remaining on the card to justify a PPV event.

Jones will now defend his title on September 22nd at what was to be UFC 152 in Toronto.  The Challenger will be former Champion Lyoto Machida.  Jones and Machida have fought previously with Jones taking the victory in the second round with a guillotine choke.  Machida was originally set to face the winner of the Henderson VS. Jones fight but now he gets his title fight right away.

While the UFC has canned a show that had a place and a date without fights scheduled, they have never cancelled a show that had a card set up already.  With injuries and fighters pulling out of fights being the reality of today’s MMA this will continue.  This is a horrible thing to happen right now for the UFC.  They are already having issues with FOX over ratings and the fights they provide FOX.  Their PPV numbers have also been trending downward over the last couple of years.  The injury bug has become out of control in the last year and a half, by far one of the most annoying things a promotion has to deal with.

Something needs to be done and done quickly to stop these things from happening.  The UFC must devise a training plan that all fighters must follow.  The best way to do this would be limiting the days and hours the fighters are allowed to train before a fight.  The business will not last at the level it has been at if this continues for even a couple of more years.  If the sport won’t regulate training the UFC sure the hell should.