A Birthday and A Valentine’s Day Massacre
The man. The myth. The legend.
The one who would go on to be considered the greatest to ever play the game of basketball was once again faced with a daunting challenge… and he delivered in the face of adversity.
The year was 1990. The day was Feb. 14; it was Valentine’s Day. An NBA game was set to take place between two Eastern Conference foes: the Chicago Bulls and the Orlando Magic. The Bulls were on the road, visiting the Magic.
As NBA fans know all too well, just about anything can happen on the court on any given night. The stage in Orlando was set for just that – anything. Would the fans get their money’s worth? Check. Would the game be a memorable one? Check. Would the fans get to see No. 23 play for the Bulls? No.
Michael Jeffrey Jordan, however, did play in that game; he just wasn’t wearing the No. 23. Why? A sneaky thief somehow managed to get ahold of his No. 23 Bulls jersey, prior to the start of the game. As a result of the pre-game theft, Jordan was forced to wear a jersey with a different number on it. That day, he wore the No. 12 instead.
It is common knowledge in the world of sports that athletes are creatures of habit. During their playing careers, they typically have standard, everyday routines that they like to go through. They tend to follow these routines to a T, almost religiously. These ritualistic habits can include everything from workouts to meal times to choices of clothing to sleep schedules.
The number an athlete chooses to perform in is no exception; it is a crucial part of an athlete’s routine. It is more than just a number; it is special. It is a well-thought-out decision for the player. It potentially has a plethora of significant meanings and representations. It is often crucial to the player.
It is possible that the thief in Orlando took this into consideration when making the decision to nab Jordan’s No. 23 jersey before tip-off on Feb. 14, 1990. Anything to throw off the best player on the opposing team’s roster, right? Because MJ is an athlete, the tactic did, presumably, have the potential to work. It didn’t, though.
Jordan responded in a way that is fitting to his reputation as being one of the all-time greats. He torched the Magic for 49 points. He torched them for 49 points while wearing No. 12. Forty-nine points! Wearing No. 12!
On that day, MJ impressively overcame the adversity of a broken routine. He impressively overcame an athlete’s nightmare. Take that, thief! Still, the thief might have actually gotten the last laugh after all. The Bulls lost to the Magic in overtime, with a final score of 135-129. Hey, you win some, you lose some. What Jordan did not lose, however, was his mojo. He showed up and showed out, despite the jersey dilemma.
Valentine’s Day 2018 – which just passed – was the 28th anniversary of that game. In my opinion, one of the highlights in Jordan’s illustrious basketball career, for sure.
That season, in 1990, MJ led the Bulls back into the playoffs for another shot at reaching the NBA Finals; the Bulls came up just short of doing so. Mike was also an All-Star, led the league in steals and won another scoring title that year. He played in all 82 regular-season games.
Mike, a baby boomer, was born on Feb. 17, 1963. Three days after his 49-point performance against the Magic, he turned 27 years old.
Feb. 17, 2018 – which also just passed – was his 55th birthday. The Basketball Hall of Famer lives on.
Don’t you just LOVE the month of February?