NBA Lockout Classics: 1995, Michael Jordan drops a double-nickle at MSG.
Jordan had just put the world on notice. “I’m Back” he said. It was that simple, that short and that sweet. But his return to the NBA wouldn’t be that easy.
Or would it?
Jordan had only 4 games under his belt when he made the trip to New York and turned the Knicks, MSG and the entire NBA on it’s ear. The basketball God would march into the Mecca and burn the place down and there was nothing Riley or Ewing could do to stop him, short of throwing Spike Lee at him with a catapult.
What makes this game so beautiful and an instant classic is that no one knew what to expect from Jordan coming into it. Jordan had retired for over a season and a half to unsuccessfully peruse baseball and was trying to make a come back at the age of 32 in the middle of an NBA season. 32 back then was ancient, especially for someone who hadn’t touched a basketball or seen a locker room in nearly 2 years. The NBA was a lot rougher back then, medicine, training and sports science was no where near as advanced as it is today and athletes just didn’t try to play into their mid 30’s, especially not guards and swing-men. The chances of Jordan’s second tenure being as successful as his first seemed as impossible has Jordan waltzing into the NBA without any preseason training or practice and dropping 55 on the Knicks, who were fresh off an NBA Finals defeat to Hakeem and the Rockets.
But this was Jordan, the man who would go on to score 51 points just two months shy of his 39th birthday. While NBA fans the world over were amazed by Jordan’s double-nickle performance, no one was surprised. Scoring is what Jordan did. He could score on anyone, in any game, at anytime and any age. He could score 40 in a bathrobe and slippers if wanted to, or so the legend of Jordan would have us believe. If anything, I’d say people were more relieved by this game. Relieved that the once-great Jordan was still great and that the NBA, once again, had a legend operating within it’s arenas.
Not to take away from Hakeem or anyone else that played in Jordan’s prime, but without Jordan, the NBA just felt dull and empty. MJ was the one man that you could love, hate, fear and respect all at the same time.
While this season went on to be a disappointment for the Bulls — losing to the upstart Orlando Magic led by Shaq and the ill-fated Penny in the Eastern Conference Finals — Jordan’s second-coming would prove a success when the Bulls would start off their second three-peat by winning 72 games the following season.
I was going to post up MJ vs. ‘Nique today, but I took a vote on twitter and this game won. Enjoy!