Today may mark the beginning of the 2015 NFL season, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to shirk our responsibilities when it comes to satisfying our NBA fans who crave the weekly rim-rattling slam. That would be completely irresponsible. Here at The Cheat Sheet, we don’t roll like that.
Like you, we need our fix of epic jams. We need to be reminded that, on certain occasions, the world’s best basketball players rose through the air, defied gravity, and finished with such force, that it made a lasting impression in all those who hold the game so dear. And by our account, there are very few individuals who took flight quite like His Airness, Mr. Michael Jordan.
While there are so many instances of the greatest player of all time soaring through the air and embarrassing his opponents with a monster jam, we’re going to take it back to the time when MJ and his Chicago Bulls were on the road to capturing their first NBA championship. This was the 1991 playoffs. Their foe: the New York Knicks. The location: Madison Square Garden. The outcome: a lesson we’d never forget. School was officially in session. Enjoy this week’s “Throwback Throwdowns.”
The first-round matchup between the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks wasn’t close by any stretch of the imagination. There was no reason it should of been. Chicago came in with a 61-21 record — the top dog in the Eastern Conference — and poised to get over that last hurdle on its way to eternal greatness.
The lowly Knicks were 39-43, somewhat disorganized, and in no position to challenge the beasts of the East. In the end, Jordan and company would sweep New York out of the playoffs, and make their well-documented run at a first NBA title. But before that happened, there was Game 3 of the series, when one individual effort by No. 23 humiliated the Knicks and reminded everyone that this was Chicago’s time.
The Bulls defeated the Knicks in Game 3 by a score of 103-94, and Jordan would finish the contest with 33 points, seven assists, six steals, and one dunk that would stand the test of time.
MJ had the ball in the corner, guarded by a feisty John Starks — who’s been known to throwdown himself — when power forward Charles Oakley came over to trap him. Looking like he had nowhere to go, Jordan leaned as if to head back to the middle of the floor, Starks bit on the move and Oakley didn’t properly cut off the baseline. MJ got around the duo — making them look silly in the process — and exploded toward the basket. Jordan went up for the jam, Knicks center Patrick Ewing went up to meet him, but was late on the play. Big Mistake. His Airness flushed the rock right in Ewing’s face — bucket and the foul — and jaws dropped in disbelief. That’s how you do it, folks.
The series was over. The Bulls were well on their way toward starting a dynasty. But even with all the success to come, that dunk still remains one of the more incredible highlights of Michael Jordan’s epic career.
All statistics are courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com.