Thursday, April 8, 2010

Never Give Up, Part IV - Michael Jordan in the 1997 NBA Finals

The 2009-2010 NCAA basketball season is over. Usually this time of year I have to pull myself out of a funk because I know there'll be no more college hoops for another seven months. This year I have a different feeling because my favorite team won the National Championship. I got to watch 38 of Duke's 40 games on TV this season, so I got to observe a group of student-athletes who won't be drafted into the NBA come together as a team and learn to play hard defense for 40 minutes.

Also, what helps is the beginning of the NBA playoffs. They're interesting because the already high level of play intensifies. It's "win or go home." There can be some wonderful moments in the playoffs.

One of my most vivid memories is of Michael Jordan in the 1997 NBA Finals. The seven-game series between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz was tied 2-2, and in game 5 Jordan was seriously ill. Team doctors said he had food poisoning or a stomach virus. Coach Phil Jackson said, “Standing up was nauseating for him and caused him dizzy spells.” 

But Jordan took the floor anyway. League MVP Karl Malone and Dave Stockton, both future Hall of Fame inductees,  had Utah up by 16 points in the second quarter, but through the force of his will, Jordan slowly got the Bulls back into the game. 

He inspired his teammates until the game was tied with less than a minute to play. Jordan scored a key 3-point basket and the Bulls went on to edge the Jazz 90-88.

After the game he said, “In the third quarter, I felt like I couldn’t catch my wind and get my energy level up. I don’t know how I got through the fourth quarter. I was just trying to gut myself through it.” 

As sick as he was, 34-year-old Michael Jordan played 44 of 48 minutes, scoring 38 points. Unable to walk, his teammates carried him back to the locker room. The Bulls won the next game to take the 1997 NBA championship. It was one of the greatest examples of perseverance I've ever seen in sports. His body desperately needed him to quit, but he refused. It was amazing.

For you hard-core hoops fans, here's the video summary of the game from YouTube...

Much of the time, success boils down to facing adversity and simply refusing to give up. Other great "Never Give Up" moments in sports...

Never Give Up, Part I - Leonard and Hearns "Showdown" in 1981

Never Give Up, Part II - The NC State Wolfpack's 1983 National Championship

Never Give Up, Part III - The Boston Red Sox Win the 2004 World Series

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Ryan said...

This game is still fresh in my mind Denny. Being a Knicks fan, I remember many MJ games all too well :)

Jordan had tremendous talent but his will power ranks with the great achievers of all time. The dude worked like a beast to become the best. After coming back from baseball he actually became one of the best jumpshooters in the game, which is an amazing feat considering he made the adjustment to his game well into his 30's.