Michael Jordan quickly silenced a Utah jazz fan who heckled him for dunking John Stockton: “Is he big enough?”
Obviously more closely associated with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan will forever be linked with several other NBA franchises. Of course, there are the Washington Wizards, with whom he played his last two seasons. But there are also the Cleveland Cavaliers, the New York Knicks and maybe more specifically the Detroit Pistons. MJ and the Bulls fought these teams for years in the Eastern Conference and all played a vital role in Jordan’s arc. But we certainly can’t forget the Utah Jazz, against whom Jordan has won the last two of his six NBA championships.
But long before MJ broke the hearts of Jazz and its fans with some of the most legendary performances in NBA Finals history, it provided another classic moment actually involving a Utah fan.
Michael Jordan was heckled by a Jazz fan and quickly silenced him
On December 2, 1987, Jordan and the Bulls traveled to Utah for an early season game with the Jazz. At 11-3, the Bulls had the best record, but Utah, which came in at 7-6, took control of the game early and held a 27-20 lead after the first quarter.
Jordan had just scored 16 points against the Golden State Warriors, the lowest of the season, so he seemed determined to go for it from the start. He kept the Bulls close as the first half wore on, and with just under a minute to go in the second quarter, he posted John Stockton, who is about five inches shorter than MJ. Seeing the lag, Scottie Pippen, who was a rookie at the time and still coming off the bench, quickly threw a pass, which Stockton attempted to steal and missed, and Jordan quickly turned and slammed him. at home.
Stockton dribbled the floor for Utah in the possession that followed and suffered a foul from Pippen, earning him two free kicks. Now at some point while this was happening, a random jazz fan yelled something like, “Hey Jordan, pick someone your size!”
So Stockton hits both free throws and Utah turns to an all-field press, which the Bulls easily shattered in just two passes. And that second pass went to Jordan, who received the ball at the foul line with only one defender between him and the rim. That defender was 6-foot-11, 240-pound center Jazz, Mel Turpin. Of course, that meant nothing to Jordan, who took to the skies and flew over Turpin for a tomahawk slam.
And as he ran back into the field, Jordan looked directly at the fan and asked, “Was he big enough?” I guess you could tell His Airness took this comment personally.
Jordan scored 47 points to lead the Bulls to a comeback win
While the Jordan-Stockton-Turpin story has grown to legendary over the past three plus decades, it’s not like this story is all this particular game has because, overall, it was extremely entertaining and competitive.
After trailing the Jazz by seven after the first quarter, the Bulls reduced the lead by one at halftime and were down 52-46. After three quarters, Utah led by just three, 79-76. And after 48 minutes, Jordan & Co. had completed the comeback and walked away with a 105-101 win.
In addition to the dunks over Stockton and Turpin, Jordan hit 15 more shots from the ground that night, including a dazzling reverse layup. Overall, he went 17 for 27 from the floor and 13 for 16 from the foul line on the 47-point path while also adding nine assists, four rebounds, three blocks and three steals. John Paxson was feeling it that night as well, when he was 9 for 16 on the field and 3 for 4 on the charity strip for 19 points. Pippen scored 11 points off the bench for Chicago.
Karl Malone led the way for the Jazz with 33 points and 14 rebounds, while Stockton added 14 points and 11 assists.
MJ won his last two NBA titles against Jazz
Almost a decade after silencing the random fan, Jordan and the Bulls faced Stockton, Malone and the Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals. MJ led Chicago to victory in six games, obviously including a victory in the famous “Grippe Game” and won his fifth NBA Finals MVP title after averaging 32.3 points, seven rebounds, six assists and 1.2 steals per game.
The two teams met again in the ’98 final, and Chicago again won the series in six games. Jordan took home MVP honors again, averaging 33.5 points, four rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals. And, of course, the series was crowned with MJ’s winning shot in Game 6, which will forever go down as one of the most iconic images in NBA history.
Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference
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