Nearly 30 years ago Tuesday, Michael Jordan made the world jump out of their seats when he stuck his tongue out and jumped from the free throw line in the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Maybe the most famous dunk contest of all-time, as MJ and Dominique Wilkins had an epic back and forth yoke session. It came down to the last dunk, and MJ needed a 49 to beat “The Human Highlight Reel”, so Michael pulled out all the stops and channeled his inner Dr. J and leaped from the free throw line, giving us one of the most iconic photos in sports history.
The dunk of the century, not only gave MJ the dunk contest trophy, but propelled his fame and brand into the stratosphere to where it is today. Air Jordan can really fly. That one dunk might have been bigger for his brand than any of his championships were. Everyone wanted to be like Mike before he ever won a championship. It was all because the way he would seem to just glide through the air and defy the laws of nature, as he slammed it on your team’s biggest man.
Any basketball player growing up in the 90’s wanted to play like Michael. Play tough. Take it to the hole hard. Play physical defense. Be a killer on the court. All those attributes were the things kids wanted to emulate, including myself. I was one of those typical MJ lovers growing up. Michael Jordan was everything to me as a kid. My earliest memories of watching basketball are watching him beat the Jazz in the finals. My first jersey as a kid was an MJ jersey, and along the way I bought them all: Laney High School, North Carolina, Bulls, Wizards, and of course the Space Jam Tune Squad jersey.
The man is possibly the greatest athlete of all-time and has a whole generation of MJ lovers who know that LeBron will never be better than him. MJ truly is the GOAT.