Sneaker News: Was It The Shoes? continues with another memorable moment in Michael’s career, but this one carries an air of infamy rather than one of legend. We’ve covered Michael’s 55-point outburst against the Knicks and his 3-point barrage in the ’92 Finals, and even that quirky moment with the ’12’ jersey resulted in one of Michael’s best games of his career. Tonight, we’ll focus on one of the not-so-MJ moments – a head-scratching blunder that unfortunately happened on one of the most televised games of the NBA Season – the All-Star Game. Check out this latest ‘Was It The Shoes?’ moment below and get filled in on this piece of Jordan history!
‘Michael Jordan announces comeback’ was really just a recycled headline from ’95, when MJ informed the public of his intent to trade in his threads for a brand-new NBA jersey for the second time in his career. Just about eleven years ago, Michael announced his intent to move from Front Office to player bench and vowed to donate his entire salary as a Washington Wizards player toward a relief effort for the victims of the 9/11 attacks; Michael didn’t really need the money, but his love for the game of basketball urged him to suit up, and as they say, get too close to the fire and you might get burned!
The much-anticipated second come-back couldn’t have started on a bigger stage; Michael would don his first non-Bulls uniform in an NBA regular season game in front of a Madison Square Garden crowd, but it wasn’t just MSG that brought out the big crowds; wherever Michael played that season, every seat was filled from courtside to nosebleed, and whatever price was being charged at the box-office was worth it to see the 38-year-old light-up the highlights.
While the Wizards didn’t really live up to the 90’s Bulls standards in the Win-Loss column, Jordan was still Jordan; at the age of 38, Michael averaged 25.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists at the All-Star break – a stat-line that earned him a starting position among the NBA’s best of that era. Jordan’s performance during the game wasn’t one of his best – a mere eight points on 4-of-13 shooting – and his certainly highlighted by one particular play in the first quarter that remains as one of the most memorable All-Star Game moments in NBA history.
Jordan was always at his very best during the NBA All-Star Game; he’s won the MVP twice in his career and even pulled off a Triple Double in the ’97 event, but his ’02 showing was certainly the worst of his career. On a wide-open fast break in the first quarter, Michael Jordan was fed the ball without a defender in sight, took off a few feet ahead of the free-throw line, and went up for an easy one-handed flush; everything worked out perfectly up until the point of elevation, because Jordan missed the dunk entirely.
After the ball clunked off the side of the rim and landed out of bounds in the scorer’s table, game commentator Marv Albert yelped out a ‘Whoa!’ instead of his customary ‘Yes!’ and the entire crowd was in a shocked (yet slightly delighted) uproar. His Eastern Conference All-Star teammates also displayed their utter shock as Tracy McGrady, Dikembe Mutumbo, and Antoine Walker jumped up off the bench in laughter, but they weren’t the only ones who got a chuckle out of it – Jordan was grinning with embarrassment as well!
After the game, much of the missed dunk was downplayed thanks to Kobe Bryant’s amazing performance (30 points in one half), but reporters still asked him about his reaction to his blunder. Michael stated “I laugh at myself…if I can’t at myself, I can’t laugh at anybody”, but also commended All-Star mate Tracy McGrady for his great performance and jaw-dropping in-game dunk. The ‘missed dunk’ is definitely one of those memorable yet rare anti-highlights of Jordan’s career, but the irony of this event is that a snapshot of Michael in mid-air, before the miss, became one of the most popular posters ever!
Let’s move onto the shoes: for the 2002 All-Star Game, Michael was rocking the the Air Jordan XVII Low in the White/Lightning-Black-Chrome colorway that was released at select Jordan Brand accounts in June 2002; this colorway is noted for the Lightning Yellow pebax mid-foot base, giving these quite the color-distinction from the other Air Jordan XVII releases. Today, the Lightning XVII is considered as one of the XVII releases and perhaps one of the best low-top Air Jordans ever, and deadstock pairs exceed double the retail value. Even though these were worn during one of Michael’s worst moments, these are still a highly coveted item today.