Once again, Mike steals the show

Christopher A. Smith

I did not think he could do it again, but Michael Jordan amazed me in Sunday night’s NBA All-Star game in Atlanta.

Throughout the first half, I started getting sick of Jordan. Imagine that, being fed up with the greatest basketball player of all-time.

I was begging for him to retire after the ridiculous debate that ended with him starting the game for the East squad, despite the fans’ votes for Vince Carter. And I even said that he was tarnishing his legacy after he blew a dunk.

But it was his moving halftime speech that helped me come to my senses. After all, who am I to suggest that Michael Jordan should stop playing the game that he loves?

No. 23 dunked from the foul line. He broke the Cleveland Caveliers’ hearts numerous times. He won an NBA championship playing with a flu that would leave us mere mortals lying in bed with chicken soup. He beat the Utah Jazz on a game-winner in the NBA Finals prior to his retirement.

Highlight reel flights through opposing defenses, a deadly jump shot, suffocating defense and unparalleled class. He dropped 55 on my Knicks in his first return to the league. He brought six titles to an otherwise horrid franchise.

Now he is resurrecting Washington’s NBA franchise. He transformed the National Basketball Association.

And all the while he endorsed three companies, Nike, Gatorade and Hanes, who are now at the top of their respective markets. Grown men and young boys worldwide just want to “be like Mike.”

Just when I thought Jordan was done, he delivered an acrobatic left-handed scoop shot in traffic during the second half. Then he hit an amazing turnaround, fadeaway jumper from deep on the baseline over the outstretched arms of Shawn Marion. It sent my roommate and I into pandemonium.

It would have been the game-winner and the perfect ending to an illustrious All-Star-game career if it weren’t for Jermaine O’Neal’s ill-advised foul on Kobe Bryant, who calmly went to the free throw line and sent the game into a second overtime.

But despite the controversial foul call, “His Airness” once again stole the show. He proved that he has no peer. Not Kobe, not Vince and certainly not LeBron.

There is only one Michael Jordan, and on Sunday night he reminded everyone of his greatness.

Whether or not his career scoring average drops below Wilt Chamberlain’s by season end is irrelevant. Stories about his father’s death, his relationship with his wife, his alleged gambling and his failed baseball career cannot touch his legacy.

The NBA will never be the same after this season, because never again will we hear the familiar sound of the public address announcer … At guard, six-six out of North Carolina, number 23…