Michael Jordan wasn’t just the greatest athlete ever because he could dunk on seven-foot centers on command or score 37.1 points per game or win Defensive Player of the Year awards despite standing “only” 6-6. He wasn’t the greatest because he had an incredible impact on the sneaker industry or because he won six titles in eight years while winning just about every possible individual award you could ever think of.
No. Despite all of that, MJ never becomes MJ without his unique knack for coming through when it mattered most. When the stakes were highest, Jordan not only ALWAYS won, he always did it in memorable ways. The dunk contest? Yeah, he dunked from the foul line…at home…against Dominique Wilkins. Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the man who was supposed to be his equal in Clyde Drexler? Yeah, MJ not only dropped 35 points and six triples in one half, he also blessed us with the shrug. Perfect timing. A perfect understanding of the situation.
The only time MJ didn’t show this unique quality was when he returned with the hapless Wizards to play out his final two years with a team that couldn’t even make the playoffs in the pathetic Eastern Conference. I know many fans — including myself — weren’t happy to see him return simply because of how he left in ’98. It was perfect, storybook, so incredible that it became the perfect poster for kids across the world.
However, with tomorrow’s iconic Air Jordan championship hat box coming from New Era at Champs Sports, it’s the perfect time to take a look back at Michael Jordan’s 5 Most Iconic Poses. He was more than a player, more than an entertainer. He was an icon.
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all illustrations via James Evans
Follow Sean on Twitter at @seanesweeney
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FEBRUARY 6, 1988
CHICAGO STADIUM, CHICAGO, IL
The greatest dunk contest ever between two of the best showmen ever seen in the NBA reached its pinnacle when Mike took off from the foul line, leaned, cocked it, and threw himself into the annuals of slam dunk history.
MAY 7, 1989
RICHFIELD COLISEUM, RICHFIELD TOWNSHIP, OH
This was the start of a dynasty. One shot goes down and the Bulls are in the second round, MJ destroying all those rumors that he wasn’t a winner. Two years later he’d get his first ring.
JUNE 12, 1991
GREAT WESTERN FORUM, INGLEWOOD, CA
Beating the legend Magic to win his first title, and doing it in the fourth quarter by passing away the glory…all the more reason to finally shed tears over a ring.
JUNE 3, 1992
CHICAGO STADIUM, CHICAGO, IL
What do you do when faced with the one player at your position that might be on your level? You send a first-round knockout that’s so vicious the question is never raised again.
JUNE 14, 1998
DELTA CENTER, SALK LAKE CITY, UT
A championship-deciding jump shot punctuated by the most elaborate and over-the-top follow-through in NBA history.