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I’m sorry, but there’s just no other way I can start this post. I grew up a huge Knicks fan, and without fail, every year, Michael Jordan and his legendary Bulls team were there to crush my city’s hopes and dreams for the title we craved (we couldn’t even get it done in 1994 when he was gracious enough to retire for a little while, but that’s another post). To this day, even though I think fondly of Ewing, Oakley, Starks and Harper, that memory always comes accompanied by the image of Jordan holding yet another title.
Great memories, these are not. The fact that I even put the words “Jordan” and “Knicks” into a YouTube search shows you how dedicated I am to my job. Ouch. Note how at the beginning of the clip, Ahmad Rashād talks about how Jordan’s shooting wrist is injured. Then watch the rest, and ask yourself if it even mattered. At about the 0:50 mark, you see Starks trying to guard Jordan before realizing it’s futile, looking on with equal parts awe and disgust.
As much as it pains me to say it, Jordan was the best in the history of the game. Period. Not only that, but the “best of all time at his sport” tag is so definitive and inarguable that the phrase “He’s the Michael Jordan of _______” has become a permanent part of our lexicon. How many times have you heard that phrase? How many players have been (unfairly, with a wink at impossibility) compared to him since?
I know I’d like to be “The Michael Jordan of”, well, anything.
The Michael Jordan of Depositing Checks
The Michael Jordan of Playing Fetch With My Dog
The Michael Jordan of Knowing When the Milk in the Fridge Will Expire
You know what’s telling? I picked ridiculous things here, but I actually sound most ridiculous claiming to be the Michael Jordan of anything. It’s a level of excellence that is practically unattainable (unless your name happens to be Tiger…)
So with absolutely no shock to anyone, Michael Jordan was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday. When it comes to enshrining legendary athletes, people often say, “This guy shouldn’t just be in the Hall of Fame, he deserves his own wing!” If that’s true for other athletes, then I think it’s an obligation to build Jordan, I don’t know, another building attached to the current hall? This may seem like hyperbole, but last I checked they’ve got these hanging in the United Center:
SIX CHAMPIONSHIPS. Hard to top that in any sport, and we all know it wouldn’t have happened without him.
I would show what we’ve got hanging in Madison Square Garden, but I can’t. Want to know what came up in Google when I put in “knicks championship banners”? Nothing. I tried many different iterations of this query, got frustrated, wept for my childhood and gave up.
Now, we do a lot of cool things here at Upper Deck that any sports nerd would geek out over. We had an inkling that MJ might be elected to the Hall of Fame, so we went ahead and prepared appropriately. In the world of sports memorabilia, there are signed balls, signed bats and signed cards, all of which are great collector’s items. This, however, is very unique:
You’re not seeing things: we took the actual, authentic floor that Jordan and those Bulls teams played on in 1996, 1997 and 1998 (all championship years, please don’t make me show the banners again), split it up, and put it into these authenticated, framed memorabilia pieces. Being that there’s obviously a limited amount of United Center floor to go around, each piece is limited to 223.
Featuring trademark Upper Deck quality, these are each individually numbered and authenticated. There are four versions available, depending on which aspect of Jordan’s game you want to highlight: dribbling, driving, completion of a two-handed dunk, and a shot where he’s in mid-air, about to score two. Probably on my favorite team. You don’t see a defender in the shot, but one could very well be there. Not like it would have mattered.
Sorry to get all Don West on you there, but look: Jordan signs autographs for us and those are great pieces, but we’re now talking about owning a piece of where the history happened. In my case, where the misery happened, but what can you do. He was Michael Freakin’ Jordan, and it’s not like the Knicks (or any other team) were going to stop him.
I should point out that the last time we won a championship, Phil Jackson himself was playing forward for New York, in blue and orange. Sigh.