While there’s debate as to whether Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time, there’s no doubt that he is an NBA legend.
His accolades are many. Jordan won six NBA Finals championships and six NBA Finals MVP Awards. He was on the Olympic-winning, 8-0 “Dream Team” of 1992. He has a net worth of roughly $1.7 billion (most of that made from his Air Jordan shoe empire), making him the richest basketball player of all-time.
And Jordan achieved all of this while retiring from basketball not one but three times. The first was at the beginning of the ’93-’94 season, when he decided to pursue a temporary career in baseball.
The second time came on Jan. 13, 1999. With Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson leaving the team and his long-time teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman also departing, Jordan made the decision to head to the Washington Wizards, as a part-owner and president of basketball operations.
Although Jordan returned to the NBA as a player in 2002, the second retirement marked the end of the two-time three-peat era.
Thus, today FN is looking back at the five most memorable games of his career.
The 63-Point Game
Forty points in a regular-season NBA game is a big deal. But 63 points in a playoff game, while being defended against by Hall of Famer Dennis Johnson and All-Star Danny Ainge, is unheard of — unless you’re Michael Jordan.
In Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals in 1986, the Bulls’ star bulldozed the Boston Celtics with a crazy-good game. This performance was a harbinger for more playoff success to come.
The Tough Game
Basketball isn’t always pretty. Sometimes, even for an all-time great, the shots just aren’t landing. Jordan had this kind of day on June 1, 1998, in a win-or-go-home Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Indiana Pacers.
Despite going only 9-for-25 on the night (with 28 points) Jordan prevailed. He was unpolished, but his team earned a hard-fought 88-83 win on their way to a sixth championship.
The Three-Point Game
Three-pointers have become an especially big deal in basketball in recent years — and Jordan sure knew how to hit them. In Game 1 of the NBA finals in 1992 against the Portland Trailblazers, he scored six three-pointers in the first half, setting an NBA record.
He scored 35 points in total in that first half (setting another record) and finished the night with 39 points. The Bulls decimated the Trailblazers, beating them 122-89 for one of the most lopsided games in Finals history.
The “Flu Game”
On June, 11, 1997, it was Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and the Bulls and the Utah Jazz were tied 2-2 in the series. Unfortunately, Jordan came down with flu-like symptoms — but that didn’t mean he was going to stay home.
The Chicago hero started off slow, but broke out in the second quarter with 17 points. Despite his ailment, Jordan ended the game with what for many players would be the best numbers of their career: 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block.
And the Bulls won 90-88, if you were wondering.
The “Last Shot”
Jordan’s high spot on the all-time greats list was forever cemented on June 14, 1999, when the Bulls won their sixth and final title of the 1990s. In Game 6 of the finals against the Utah Jazz, Jordan hit a 17-foot shot with only 5.7 seconds left, giving the Bulls an 87-86 lead.
The “Space Jam” star scored 45 points in that outing and earned his sixth Finals MVP trophy. After the game, a reporter asked if he’d always envisioned going out that way, with a Finals game winner. Without hesitation, he replied “yes.”
Click through the gallery to see 13 Air Jordans that came out after Jordan’s retirement.
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