Michael Jordan loves smoking cigars. He often smoked one before and after games during his playing career with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards and always smokes when he plays golf.
Not many players can smoke a cigar before a basketball game and play well, but Jordan was different. Legendary Bulls coach Phil Jackson, a big cigar guy as well, never had a problem with His Airness smoking before games because he knew it wouldn’t impact Jordan’s production on the hardwood.
During the 1997 playoffs, Chris Webber and the Washington Bullets faced Jordan and the Bulls in the first round. After losing the first two games of the series in Chicago, Washington looked to win Game 3 at home and turn the series around.
However, as they entered the Washington stadium for Game 3, the Bullets saw Jordan and Scottie Pippen hanging out by a Ferrari and smoking a cigar, and it changed everything.
Michael Jordan and the Bulls swept Chris Webber and the Bullets
It was a closer series than many expected, but the Bulls swept the Bullets in the first round of the 1997 playoffs. Chicago won Games 1 and 2 at home and closed the series in Washington in Game 3.
Jordan averaged 37.3 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists for the Bulls while shooting 57.1% from the field. The Bullets had no answers for MJ, who scored 112 points in three games.
Washington put up a good fight, as they lost each game by single digits. The Bullets were led by Rod Strickland, Juwan Howard, Tracy Murray, and Webber.
After losing Game 2 by five points, the Bullets were excited about Game 3 in their building. They played tremendous basketball for 48 minutes but came up short in the end, as Jordan and the Bulls won by one point to advance to the second round.
Deep down, Jordan knew the Bulls would win Game 3 in Washington, and he let the entire Bullets team know how confident he was before the game started.
Jordan smoked a cigar while sitting on his Ferrari before Game 3 started
According to Webber, Jordan and Pippen sat on MJ’s Ferrari before Game 3 started and smoked a cigar. The Bulls superstars were already celebrating a win.
“Game 3, we get off the bus, and Juwan (Howard) is from Chicago and used to work out there. I’ll never forget, Jordan was sitting on his Ferrari, and Pippen was right there, and they have a cigar lit. We get off the bus, and we have to pass them with a lit cigar. You want to talk about posturing? Forget Phil Jackson. You got Michael Jordan there behind the scenes smoking a cigar before the game, letting us know that he’s the Red Auerbach before the game even started,” Webber told Dan Patrick on the Dan Patrick Show.
“It was almost like, ‘I lit the cigar. I’m celebrating already.’ This is just a formality. You guys getting on the court tonight.”
Jordan scored 28 points in Game 3 to lead the Bulls to victory. Pippen was solid as well, as the do-it-all forward poured in 20 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
The Bulls beat the Jazz in the ’97 Finals
Jordan and the Bulls defeated Karl Malone and the Utah Jazz in the 1997 Finals in six games. MJ won Finals MVP by averaging 32.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists.
Chicago won its final championship in 1998 over Utah. Jordan finished his NBA career with six titles and six Finals MVPs while going 6-0 in the Finals.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.