Today in Sports History: April 11

On April 11, 1998, Michael Jordan dished out his 5,000th career regular-season assist. The Jordan-led Chicago Bulls defeated the Orlando Magic, 87-78. Jordan is known as one of the greatest scorers to ever pick up a basketball. He won a record 10 NBA scoring titles throughout his career and holds the all-time greatest career NBA regular season and playoff point per game averages. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that he was a stellar facilitator as well. In the clinching Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals, Jordan responded to the way the defense was playing him and dished out a pass to the open Steve Kerr – who knocked down the crucial go-ahead basket, seconds before the Bulls officially clinched their fifth championship of the decade. The 1991 NBA Finals marked Jordan’s first of an eventual six titles and record six Finals MVPs. He became the first player in NBA Finals history to average over 30 points and 10 assists. So, while he was one of the absolute most skilled, sensational, and unstoppable scoring machines ever seen, he was also a very adept passer, as well as an extraordinarily tenacious defensive ace.

Jordan and the Bulls’ 1997-98 championship season is known as the “Last Dance,” and one that a recently released documentary series with that title highlighted. In 1997-98, Jordan would for the second time in his storybook career, win the MVP, the All-Star Game MVP, and the Finals MVP all in one season (something he had also achieved in 1995-96). Willis Reed and Shaquille O’Neal are the only other NBA greats ever to have achieved this remarkable feat even once. Jordan, like usual, led the league in scoring during the 1997-98 regular season and 1998 championship playoff run. Jordan’s final game in a Bulls uniform, Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, would end in thrilling fashion – with Jordan getting a clutch steal followed by him seconds later, knocking down one of the most iconic game-winning shots of all-time. This clinched Jordan and the Bulls their sixth and final championship of the decade, and in a rematch against the Utah Jazz squad that the Bulls had defeated the year prior.

Michael Jordan, the man, the myth, and the legend, is unquestionably one of the most influential athletes in human history and one of the most influential icons of our time. The sports world has seen very few self-driven competitors as cutthroat as Jordan. Aside from having had what many consider to be the greatest all-time NBA playing career, he has also proven to be an extraordinarily shrewd businessman. Jordan eventually became a billionaire, the first professional athlete ever to eventually be so. His “Air Jordan” sneaker brand cosmically spearheaded a cultural shift in the athletic shoe branding industry, as it became and still is, one of our cultures most contemporary shoe brands. 2009 was the year that Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as a player and 2016 was the year that he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Jordan, one of the world’s most successful businessmen, is the current controlling owner of today’s Charlotte Hornets NBA franchise.

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