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By Oliver Urwin
Air Jordan. His Airness. MJ. The G.O.A.T (Greatest of all time, as opposed to the farmyard animal). Boston Celtics legend Larry Bird even likened him to God.
Whatever you know him by, Michael Jordan is quite simply one of, if not the greatest basketball player of all time, the NBA just about said as much. He broke boundaries with his mesmerising playing style and broke rules with his legendary range of Air Jordan shoes.
No, really – even his own team, the Chicago Bulls, fined him $5000 for rocking up in his new Air Jordan XIs because its fresh white colourway didn’t jive with the traditional black the Bulls wore during the playoffs.
Though he was also one of the best defensive players in the game, let’s face it, one thing made him an absolute superstar known across the world those slam dunks. So clear the lane and get ready for take-off, we’ve compiled five of Jordan’s greatest. Court is in session.
5. Jordan vs. Portland
Remember in 2005 when Thierry Henry and Robert Pires tried to show off a bit too much with a penalty and they made a complete mess of it? If not, check it out here.
This first dunk from Jordan is basically what they were trying to do. Almost definitely done on purpose, Bulls small forward Scottie Pippen hits the rim from a free throw.
Out of nowhere, Jordan glides into view, slamming in a hard dunk that takes his Portland opponents completely by surprise. A hapless Trail Blazer tries to warn them of Jordan’s incoming dunk, but it’s too late; Air Jordan is already mid-flight.
4. Jordan vs. Miami Heat
Jordan’s dunks catapulted his name around the world, but his defensive power made him a crucial teammate on the courts. Blocking Miami Heat’s Kevin Edwards, butterfingers slips ups, allowing Jordan to receive the ball from Horace Grant.
What follows is an opponent-dizzying dribble, complete with an effortless round-the-back fake out where Jordan seems to be toying with the Heat. Leaving his opponents in a muddle, there’s not much else he can do but sink another Jordan banger, complete with pump fake.
Jordan’s playing style summed up in one.
3. Jordan in the early days
This next one seemingly proves that Jordan was a legend even before he played for the Bulls. Pulled way back from his college b-ball days where he played for North Carolina, all the Jordan trademarks are here; the speedy, game-breaking dribble, his patented “rock the cradle” flourish, a gravity defying leap, his tongue sticking out as he drives this sinker home.
Note the commentator’s voice breaking as he realises the game has he knows it has been changed forever.
2. His Airness exhibits
Another early highlight from MJ’s career that usually goes unnoticed for a couple of reasons. It was never televised, it was just an exhibition game against an Italian team, and His Airness hadn’t quite been crowned with the title just yet.
That said, this is up there with the best of them. A peach of a leap leads into a dunk of such sheer force that it completely breaks the backboard, raining down a shower of shame on his opponents for one last final insult.
Nike must have seen dollar signs – MJ was equipped with Air Jordan 1s when he pulled off this ridiculous feat.
1. Straight from the free throw line
1987 was a pretty good year for Jordan. He led the league scoring in 87/88 season, was named defensive player of the year and helped the Bulls reach the playoffs for the first time.
All well and good, but this absolutely mammoth dunk that won the Slam Dunk contest that year was probably his crowning achievement. Using almost three quarters of the court for a run up, Jordan soared through the air for an absolute beauty.
So what? That sounds like business as usual for Jordan. Well, consider that he launched skywards from the free throw line. That’s right, the free throw line. That’s 4.6 metres from the basket. Other things that measure around that size a van, two king sized beds, two Michael Jordans, your tongue as it rolls out of your gaping mouth and over the floor after watching this.
Think you’ve found some Jordan dunks that put our list to shame? Let us know in the comments below and post your favourites.
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