The Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan more than made his mark in the NBA Finals series against the Portland Trail Blazers in 1992.
The Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan more than made his mark in the NBA Finals series against the Portland Trail Blazers in 1992.

Magic truth behind iconic Michael Jordan shrug revealed

 IT'S one of the most memorable moments in the history of the NBA.

Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls squared off against the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1992 NBA finals when Jordan unleashed.

Arguably the greatest player of all time ripped the heart out of the Blazers in the first half of the opening game of the series as he buried six threes.

He capped off the final shot with a shrug that perfectly summed up just how everyone was feeling as the situation unfolded.

Jordan had never been a noted shooter from beyond the arc. In fact, during the 1991-92 season he was shooting only 27 per cent.

Before the finals got under way the Blazers players decided it was a good idea to say their own superstar teammate, Clyde Drexler, was the better shooter from deep.

Going off the numbers they were right. Drexler shot 33.7 per cent throughout the season, but you should never lay down a challenge to Jordan.

But now a new reason behind the carnage has come to light with fellow NBA superstar Earvin "Magic" Johnson saying he's the one to blame for Jordan going off.

Johnson says the reason Jordan was so heated entering the game was because the night before, Magic he had got the better of him playing cards.

"The night before he hit all them threes against Portland, we're playing bid whist at his house. His dad and I, we bust him up, we tore him up, and I'm running six nose and five specials on Michael, right?" Johnson said.

"So we play and I said, 'Michael I gotta go home, you've got a game. 'Cause remember I was working for NBC at the time. So I'm calling the game'. He said, 'No MJ', because Mike was so competitive. When he loses, he don't want you to leave, you know.

"So we played and I said, 'No, I'm going to go on to the hotel.'

"So, remember he shot and made like four or five in a row and remember when he made that last one and he turned to the scorer's table, he was turning to me!

"He was so hot that night, so he owed me a lot because I'm the one he was mad at. That's why he took it out on Clyde Drexler the next day in the game."

The tale from Johnson may be true, but in a book from David Halberstam called Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World he Made, the motivation for Jordan behind the iconic display came from the media narrative trying to hype up the battle between Jordan and Drexler.

As Halberstam wrote, the challenge became personal for Jordan.

But of course, it was intensely personal for him, the perfect challenge for a man who always wanted and always need challenges, and he used all the comparisons with Drexler, all those nonbelievers who thought Drexler as good as he was, to motivate himself. He set out to do nothing less than destroy, not just Portland, but Drexler as well.

Later, Danny Ainge, who was Drexler's Portland teammate that year, said that there was a certain inhumanity to what took place on the court in that series. Drexler chose to give Jordan the outside shot in the beginning and Jordan hit six threes in a row … When the Trail Blazers had the ball, Ainge thought, it was as if Jordan had a terrible personal vendetta against Drexler. If it was not personal, it most certainly looked that way. Jordan barely let Drexler touch the ball on offense. Ainge sensed that it was as if Jordan had taken all those newspaper articles and television stories about Drexler as nothing less than a personal insult. It was like watching a killer on the court, he decided, "an assassin who comes to kill you then cut your heart out."

Jordan and the Bulls went on to claim the NBA Finals victory, sealing the series 4-2, with the Chicago Bulls megastar claiming his second title and second Finals MVP trophy.

Drexler finally tasted NBA Championship success in 1995 with the Houston Rockets, a year when Jordan had left the league to chase success in baseball.


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