Michael Jordan loved basketball and hated it when he was kept off the court. When he was injured in his second season, he was itching to come back even before he had fully recovered. He returned just one month before the postseason and led the Bulls to the playoffs. Though they fell to the Celtics in the first round, Jordan set an all-time playoff scoring record when he dropped 63 in Game 2.
He loved the game so much that he had a clause for it in his contract. According to the “Love-of-the-Game Clause,” Jordan was allowed to play basketball whenever he wanted to. Whether it was a scrimmage or a random game in the park, no one could stop him.
A few days back, the former Bulls’ team doctor from the 90’s, Michael Lewis, revealed a story of when Jordan, despite being hurt, wanted to play. Not just for himself, but for the fans.
Dr. Lewis recently gave an interview as a promotional activity for his upcoming book ‘The Ball’s in your court,’ which will talk about the life of Michael Jordan amongst others. All the profit from the sales of the books will go to the ‘Himalayan Cataract Project.
In the interview (12:50 onwards) for WGN Radio, Dr. Lewis said, “One night, 10 minutes before a game, he had such severe neck pain that he could not move his neck in any direction. So I suggested he not play that night and he looked at me like I was crazy. He said, ‘fans have come from hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away to see me play and I’m not going to disappoint them.’”
This kind of commitment, not just to the game, but also to the fans, is hard to find. Michael Jordan is ranked third among most 82-game seasons played. Out of the 13 full seasons he played, he had nine seasons where he featured in every single game. In 1988-89 he played 81, whereas in 1992-93 he played 78 total games. The final season where he played 82 games was at age 39 when he was at Washington.
This kind of durability is rare nowadays, with load management being popular among modern-day superstars. During The Last Dance, Jordan’s trainer revealed that Jordan was able to train his body for basketball, then baseball, and then back to basketball again.
Jordan also put in extra work so he could withstand the “Jordan Rules,” set by the Bad Boy Pistons. He worked his body to survive that physical barrage and overcame it when he swept them with the Bulls in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.
Jordan was truly one of a kind. Not many are committed to the game like he was.
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