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Is it possible to pick out any one play from Michael Jordan’s amazing career and say it was his most spectacular? He’s had far too many highlights to enumerate, too many brilliant plays to count — the NCAA title-winning basket as a freshman against Georgetown, his famed shot over Craig Ehlo in the playoffs against Cleveland and so many other amazing buzzer-beaters. But there was one play during the 1991 NBA Finals, when Jordan and the Chicago Bulls were striving for their first NBA championship, that certainly rates up there in his personal pantheon.
Thanks to television replay technology, it’s a play that has been seen over and over. NBC replayed it countless times during its coverage of the 1991 Finals, then highlighted it in its game-opening package throughout the following year. And why not? It was a play that reflected all the qualities that make Jordan so unique.
It came in Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Jordan got the ball out high and started to drive down the lane with the ball in his right hand, eluding his defender. As Jordan took to the air, Lakers forward A.C. Green moved into the lane to block his path, but Jordan adjusted on the fly.
Other players might have been called for charging or perhaps turned the ball over, but not Jordan. While in mid-air he switched the ball from his right hand to his left, twisted his body to avoid contact and somehow scooped it in past Green.
Jordan’s play seemed to sap the life from the Lakers, who had won the series opener at Chicago Stadium. The Bulls captured Game 2 107-86 and went on to win the next three in Los Angeles to wrap up their first NBA crown.