"I can jump when I have to. Especially when I get pissed"
That's what a pissed off 38-year old Michael Jordan, suffering from a sinus cold, had to say about his two-handed block/smack-the-glass/catch/nastiness on Ron Mercer's layup in the final seconds of a 2002 victory against his former team. "The Block" caused the Wizards bench to fall to the floor harder than Ron Mercer, and 90s Bulls' fans watching the game on their home TV to jump as high as Jordan. Mercer got up and ran back on defense as a strutting Jordan stared him down and yelled at Mercer as he went by.
So why was Jordan so pissed?
Despite 13 free throw attempts, Jordan was complaining to the refs all night about a lack of calls. He was also getting frustrated with the physical defense of Ron Artest. So after Artest blocked one of his shots, Jordan's anger took over. And we have all heard countless stories -- from Reggie Miller to Kendall Gill to Jayson Williams and other NBA players -- about why it's a bad idea to make "Black Jesus" mad.
"It was one of those situations where anger kind of gave me a little more energy to go up and get the block," Jordan said.
You also have to consider the whole situation: This was his first game against his former team, he was coming off of back-to-back great performances -- 51 points and 7 rebounds vs the Hornets and 45 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists vs the Nets -- and with Bulls GM Jerry Krause in attendance, you can bet (no pun intended) Jordan was hyped up and wanting to continue his hot streak.
The Wizards started strong and had a 32-18 lead after the first quarter. Then Jordan caught fire in the 2nd, scoring 19 of his team's 25 points and giving them a 20-point lead at the half. The Bulls traded buckets with the Wizards in the 3rd and took over in the 4th, bringing them to six points when Ron Mercer went up for a layup to cut the lead to four. As you know, Mercer didn't make the layup.
"I don't know where he came from," Collins said of The Block. "It looked like he was out, and then all of a sudden he was taking the ball with two hands at the basket."
The Wizards went on to win 89-83. Jordan's final line was 29 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks and 1 huge reminder that he was still the GOAT.
The block was so popular, Nike even recreated it for a 2002 Vince Carter Nike commercial called "Dr Funk."
What many people don't know about Jordan's two-hand-against-the-glass-pump-behind-the-head-back-block-steal is he first did it two decades earlier, when he was a high-flying Tarheel at North Carolina.
As great as that block was, I still think this UNC block is better because instead of smacking the backboard with his hands, he smacked it with his head.
So, whatever happened to Ron Mercer? Last time I heard his name was in a J. Cole song.
Cause I was broke plus the weed that I would smoke would make it worser
Lord, please let my problems disappear like Ron Mercer
I'm just playing. The Kentucky great is doing just fine and hosting basketball camps. You can learn more about them by following him on Twitter @rmercer33.
Source: Chicago Tribune