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”
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)
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.
Posted in NBA, sports, Sports History
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In 1947 Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in baseball. It was a historic happening that changed professional sports forever. However Robinson was not the first African-American athlete to break the color barrier in American professional sports.
In 1946 a year before Jackie Robinson made history, four African-Americans became the first to play professional football since the NFL became segregated in 1933. Those four players were Marion Motley, Bill Willis, Woody Strode and Kenny Washington. Both Motley and Willis signed with the Cleveland Browns who played in the All-American Football Conference. While Strode and Washington were signed by the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League. Those four Men all made history that year but one man’s carrier would stand out more than all of the others, that man was Marion Motley.
Marion Motley (Getty Images)
Marion Motley was born in 1920 in Leesburg, GA. He grew up in Canton, Oh and was an excellent High School football player. He would play his college career as a Full Back at the South Carolina State and the University of Nevada, Reno. He entered the US Navy in 1944 during World War II before beginning his professional carrier with the Cleveland Browns.
Marion Motley stood at 6’1” and weighed 240 pounds in his prime. Regarded as the first real power back in the NFL Motley punished opposing defenses, pummeling any defender that got in his way. Many who played during his time have regarded Motley as being the best football player they have ever seen. It has also been said that he was an even better player than the Hall Of Fame running back Jim Brown. Like brown he was an excellent back that could push for extra yards but he could block better than Brown, these skills made him a complete player.
Marion Motley played a total of 9 seasons from 1946-1955. During this time he amassed 4,720 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns. As a receiver he had 1,107 yards and caught 7 touchdown passes. Motley was a 1950 Pro Bowler as well as a champion with the legendary Cleveland Brown’s teams of 1946-1950. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in 1968, forever immortalized in his home of Canton,OH.
Marion Motley was one of the greatest football players of his era and quite possibly of all time. He endured the same hate and discrimination as Jackie Robinson and was able to prove that he belong with the best. He is a true American Hero and should be known and remembered by all sports fans.
Posted in NFL, sports, Sports History
Tagged african american, america, Bill Willis, black, canton, cleveland browns, color barrier, first, first players, football, full back, hall of fame, jim brown, Kenny Washington, los angeles rams, Marion Motley, nevada, ohio, power back, teams, were, what team, who, Woody Strode