Remembering When Michael Jordan Lit Up The Bullets In The Playoffs With Cigars and 55 Points
How intimidated do you think the young Washington Bullets were facing Michael Jordan and the 72 win Bulls in the first round of the 97 playoffs? How intimated do you think Calbert Chaney was when Micheal Jordan walked into the Bullets locker room and said, “Who’s going to check me tonight?” or when Michael Jordan sat in front of one of his many Ferraris, while smoking a a cigar, waiting for the Bullets bus to pull in just so they could see how worried he was before the game? Here’s Chris Webber with the amusing story during an interview with Dan Patrick.
“One time we played in Washington. We played a five game series against the Bulls. It was the year they won 72 games. We lose all three games by a total of seven points. I saw Michael Jordan come into our locker room with a cigar, while it was lit, and said, ‘Who’s going to check me tonight?’ And we looked at Calbert Cheaney and we were laughing like little school kids knowing that Calbert Cheaney was going to get him, we knew it wasn’t a game for Mike. He was going to be there and he was going to be playing like he said. Game Three we get off the bus and Juwan (Howard) is from Chicago and used to workout there. I’ll never forget, Jordan was sitting on his Ferrari and Pippen was right there and they have a cigar lit. We get off the bus and we have to pass them with a lit cigar. You want to talk about posturing? Forget Phil Jackson. You got Michael Jordan there behind the scenes smoking a cigar before the game, letting us know that he’s the Red Auerbach before the game even started. It was almost like, ‘I lit the cigar. I’m celebrating already. This is just a formality, you guys getting on the court tonight.”
It’s those type of mental games Michael plays that makes him the GOAT…and big numbers in big games too.
In game 1, MJ took it easy and just put up 28 points to go with 8 boards and 8 assists. Then in game 2 he scored 55 including 20 of the Bulls’ final 23 points in the 4th quarter including 14 straight.
“We did everything conceivable to try and stop MJ,” Bullets coach Bernie Bickerstaff said after the game. “He showed us all why he’s the greatest player in the game.”
Harvey Grant, brother of Jordan’s former co-worker Horace Grant, also had some praise for Jordan.
“Let me tell you something, man, I’ve been in this league for nine years. Seen everyone from Bird, Isiah to Magic. And I swear to you that I’ve never seen a basketball player like that man. He is the greatest I’ve ever seen. Ever. Everyone may know that already. But I’m saying it again, anyway.”
When asked about his performance, Jordan simply said, “It’s my job.”
The Bulls then finished the job by sweeping the Bullets with a game 3 win and then went on to win 1 of 3 consecutive championships.