“The Shot” 25th Anniversary

May 7, 1989 — 25 years ago today, one of the most iconic Michael Jordan, and NBA moments happened. You’re no doubt familiar with this one, doubling as the late Johnny Kerr’s most signature reaction, “GOOD! The Bulls win! They win it!”, which is forever ingrained in my memory from childhood.

But have you ever seen this raw footage? I remember watching this awhile ago but ran it back today and was as equally astonished as the first play. These uncut reactions of both the media crew bum rushing MJ and MJ himself, just a moment or two after he hit the shot are simply phenomenal. Watch and enjoy, and hold your heads up today Bulls fans because even though we’re not in it today, we had some pretty amazing glory days.



The GWHH Definitive Guide to the Post-MJ/Scottie Bulls Postseasons (Pt. 1 of 2)

It’s Saturday morning as I write this, a sunny, somewhat warm Chicago day, meaning Joakim Noah won’t have to worry about snow much longer.

(And shout out to my dude Bryan Crawford for telling Noah about the snow.)

More importantly, we’re less than 36 hours away from tip-off of Bulls-Wizards Game 1, a series that makes the Bulls one of five teams to have nine postseason trips in the past ten years. (The others? The Spurs, Heat, Mavericks and Nuggets.)

Yes, it was nine years ago this week that the Bulls began their first postseason since John Stockton’s three-pointer clanked hopelessly off the Delta Center rim in 1998. After five last-place division finishes in six seasons (they finished third-from-last with a 30-win 2003), the Bulls won 45 games in 2005, earned the East’s 4 seed and hosted the Washington Wizards in a first-round series.

So it’s fitting that they’ll open their 9th postseason in ten years by once again hosting the Wizards. I’m a sucker for symmetry. This ten-year run is not the 14 straight playoffs we posted from ’85 to ’98. But it’s been steady, and a whole lot more fun than winning 25% of our games for six years.

Before we kick it off with Bulls-Wiz ’14, a look back at nine great seasons of Bulls playoff basketball, starting with…

Playoff Series Rankings
(Ordered on a scale of FUN to NOT FUN)



While the 2009 Celtics series was unquestionably the most objectively fun series of the 12, I’d rather sweep the defending champs than lose to them in 7. Our first series win in the post-ring era was a brutalization of the defending champion Heat, with a breakout performance from Luol Deng who missed the ’05 playoffs and had three games in single digits in 2006.

He scored 33 points in Game 1, the top game among all players in the series, and averaged 26.3 points (tops in the series) and 9.0 rebounds, second only to Ben Wallace’s 9.8.

Deng’s performance even altered the course of subsequent NBA championships, since it was Deng’s high stock following this season that led Kobe Bryant to nix any Kobe-to-the-Bulls deal that sent Luol to L.A. and, in Kobe’s mind, leaving the Bulls underserved for a potential Kobe-Bulls championship.


Like the ’07 Heat series, this series has one crucial element missing from the ’09 Celtics series — the Bulls won. Game 7 in Brooklyn with a depleted (and that’s being generous) Bulls lineup was one of the great efforts in Bulls playoffs history. (Here’s what I wrote after that game.) How banged up were the Bulls? Daequan Cook was on the floor when the buzzer sounded.

This series featured nail-biters in Games 3 (Bulls by 3) and 6 (Nets by 3), but the gem was the triple overtime Game 4, led by Nate Robinson’s 34 points, a Bulls franchise record for points scored by a reserve in a playoff game.

A year after getting knocked out by the 8th seed Sixers following a few, ahem, injuries, finding the strength to overcome the favored Nets despite setbacks was a powerful testament to will, work ethic and maximizing ones talent. A true gift to all those who witnessed it.



It’s hard to lose a playoffs series and walk away thinking, “Hot damn, that was fun.” If it’s ever happened, it was in 2009. One year after seeming like the Eastern Conference’s next big thing, the Bulls fell apart in 2008, fired their coach, traded fan favorite Andres Nocioni for John Salmons and lucked into the draft’s #1 selection. With it came hometown boy Derrick Rose, the Rookie of the Year and future MVP who helped the Bulls win 11 of their final 14 games to finish 41-41, good for the East’s 7th seed and a date with the Celtics.

The series then turned into one ESPN Classic after another:

Game 1, TD Banknorth Garden, overtime: Bulls 105, Celtics 103

THE STORY: Rose scores 36 points, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s record for points in a playoff debut. His 11 assists made him the youngest player ever (20-years-old) to drop 35 points and 10 assists in a playoff game.

Game 2, TD Banknorth Garden: Celtics 118, Bulls 115

THE STORY: This game turned into a shootout between UConn guards, with Ben Gordon scoring 42 points and Ray Allen scoring 30 including the game-winning three. Gordon scored 14 points in the 4th quarter; Allen scored 12 all on three-pointers.

Game 3, United Center: Celtics 107, Bulls 86

THE STORY: Only dud of the series. Bulls were down 22 at the half and were booed by the hometown fans. Trailed by 34 with five minutes to go but scraped out the 21 point loss.

Game 4, United Center, double overtime: Bulls 121, Celtics 118

THE STORY: This is where the series came to life. In danger of falling behind the defending champs three games to one, the Bulls won a double overtime thriller most famous for Ben Gordon’s game-saving, sack-grabbing three at the end of the first overtime. Rose’s 23 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists were all team-highs — he was one assist shy from becoming the youngest player in league history to nab a postseason triple-double. (LeBron is the record holder — he did it twice as a 21-year-old.)

Game 5, TD Banknorth Garden, overtime: Celtics 106, Bulls 104

THE STORY: This is where the series turned ominous and spiteful. After Paul Pierce hit a jumper to give the C’s a two-point lead with 3.4 seconds remaining in OT, the Bulls ran an inbounds play that somehow got Brad Miller WIDE open at the top of the key. Miller took one dribble followed by two steps before rising for what was sure to be a game-tying layup.

Instead, with no other options, Celtics guard Rajon Rondo raked Miller across the face in a “block” attempt. The ball rimmed out and Miller fell to the ground. Dazed and bloodied — he needed ten stitches in his mouth after the game — Miller missed the first free throw to more or less end the game.

Game 6, United Center, triple overtime: Bulls 128, Celtics 127

THE STORY: This is where the series became legendary. The series was already the first in NBA history with three overtime games, and Game 6’s three overtimes gave it seven overtime periods for the series, also a record.

Game 6 is most famous for Joakim Noah’s steal-dribble-dunk sequence on Paul Pierce (my take from 2009) that gave the Bulls a three-point lead with 35 seconds left in the third OT, but don’t forget about Ray Allen scoring 51 points on a playoffs record-tying nine threes or big-time performances from Rose (28-8-7), Salmons (35 points) and Miller (23-10 off the bench).

Game 7, TD Banknorth Garden: Celtics 109, Bulls 99

THE STORY: The fairy tale ends. After leading at the end of the first, the Bulls get blown out in the second quarter 29-11 and never get closer than three points. Gordon scores 33 points in the final game of his Bulls career — perhaps fittingly, he was the team’s leading scorer in all four losses and none of the wins. (My Ben Gordon retrospective from 2009.)




I’m lumping these two series together, because it was the domination of the Pacers combined with a solid defeat of the Hawks that made Bulls fans feel as if this team had turned a corner. Neither stands out as being a clearly more fun series than the other. The Indiana series was a thumping, but the Hawks series put us in our first Eastern Conference Finals since 1998.

Highlights of the 11 games were Rose scoring 39 in Game 1 vs. Indiana and 44 in Game 3 vs. Atlanta. Highlights of the 44 point game coming in a later section, so here is the 39er:



7. FIRST ROUND, 2006, 2-4 at MIAMI HEAT

The first Bulls playoff series since the 1998 Finals started with rookie Andres Nocioni scoring 25 points and grabbing 18 rebounds, one of only six 25-15’s in Bulls playoffs historyI attended that game, and the pressure release at the U.C. after six postseason-less seasons gave me chills.

The Bulls crushed in Game 2 but then dropped four straight, including a heartbreaking Game 5, in which we erased a ten-point lead with 40 seconds to go only to see Gilbert Arenas slay us at the buzzer.

As for the 2006 series vs. the Heat, we lost the first two games, won the next two, and lost the final two.

Upsides of this series: We found out that Mike Sweetney’s nickname was “Big Footwork” during a starting lineup intro on TV… We saw three Bulls average twenty points for the series (Nocioni, Gordon, Hinrich)… We made it onto a championship video (Miami’s, but whatever).

Downsides of this series: Shaq eviscerated us in Game 6 with 30 points and 20 boards, the second-oldest player since at least 1964 to drop a 30-20 in the playoffs. At least we made him sad a year later.




That Pistons series was arguably the most hyped of any on this list, even more than the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, if only because we’d been building to it ever since the summer of 2006 when the Bulls signed Ben Wallace. This series felt like destiny…

…but it quickly fell to pieces: lost Games 1 and 2 by a combined 46 points in Detroit, then came home with that “It’s okay, we’ll win at home” mindset, led Game 3 44-28 at halftime, and lost by 7. Recovered to win Game 4 at home, and then won Game 5 in Detroit, setting up a home Game 6 with dreams of at least making it to Game 7.

Nope. Pistons roll.

(Weird trivia: Who led the Bulls in scoring in the final playoff game of the pre-Derrick Rose era? P.J. Brown, with 20 points.)

The Cavs series in 2010 was an execution. We’d been sentenced to death at the hands of a Cavaliers firing squad led by the league’s best player. There was nothing to do during that series but enjoy the show, the challenge and the improved play of Rose & Noah.

I wrote at length about this series (Game 1Game 2Game 3Game 4Game 5) so I’ll leave you with mentioning that this has got to be the saddest “We just won a playoff game” press conference in the history of sports:

Maybe he sensed that this was coming three days later:


10. SECOND ROUND, 2013, 1-4 at MIAMI HEAT

By the time the Bulls reached their second round series with Miami (the third matchup with LeBron in four years), they were on their last legs. In Noah’s case, literally. And he was one of the healthy ones. (My injury parody column before Game 4.)

The Bulls stole Game 1 and then lost the next three by an average of 23 point per game during which Joakim Noah got flipped off by a crazy Miami woman once accused of murdering her husband. When it ended, I for one was grateful.



The Bulls ROLLED in Game 1, holding LeBron to 15 points and winning by 21. Then their season crashed into a tree. Miami tied the series by closing Game 2 on a 12-2 run after being tied at 73 in the 4th, won Game 3 by 11, won Game 4 by eight in overtime and stole Game 5 with a game-clinching 18-3 run to scrape out a three-point win and a trip to the Finals.



A lot of Bulls fans have forgotten the short-lived John Starks era of 2000 (I can’t find any video, thank God, and can only find one good picture) but no Bulls fan will ever forget the sight of Derrick Rose pulling up lame on a jumpstop at the end of a Game 1 win over Philly. Like Bryan Crawford wrote a year later about the mood at the United Center that day: “It felt like a funeral.”

When we learned Derrick was out for the playoffs, I started calculating the odds of knocking off the CELTICS in Round 2, and then wondering how we might fair against Miami. But ye gods! I never thought that we wouldn’t even beat the Sixers.

Just hideous.

Coming tomorrow: The best performances, best games and best dunks from the 2005-2013 Bulls playoffs.

(UPDATE: Here is Part 2.)

Jack M Silverstein is a staff writer for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. Say hey @readjack.

Air Jordan XX9 revealed

*cues “Today Was A Good Day”*

Today was the big Air Jordan XX9 reveal as Michael Jordan and legendary Air Jordan designer Tinker Hatfield presented two colorways of the 29th version of the signature shoe. You have your classic Bulls black/red combo and a black/team orange combo prime for Jordan signature athletes Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook.

MJ & Tinker revealed a lot of juicy tidbits about the design process in today’s press conference. For starters, the XX9 is the first shoe in the world to have a “performance-woven upper”. Hatfield says,

This year, our inspiration and challenge to ourselves was to create the best performance basketball shoe ever—and I think the XX9 and the performance-woven upper pay that off.

The AJ XX9 performance-woven upper.
The AJ XX9 performance-woven upper.

The sock-like fit was initially inspired by an everyday airbag. Hatfield continued with the design on a 3D shell to experiment with the different materials, which is different than his usual process of starting the design on an iPad! An iPad, yup. The design process took a total of 2 years, including a personal visit to MJ’s house from Hatfield along the way. Perhaps capitalizing on the plaid trend, Hatfield originally wanted a plaid upper with numerical significance seen below.

A design of the originally intended plaid upper, with 23, 45, and 6 guiding the pattern.
A design of the originally intended plaid upper, with 23, 45, and 6 guiding the pattern.

I am not about the plaid trend myself, so I am glad to see the pattern is signature Jordan elephant print instead. But I am about numerology and to see the attempted incorporation of 23, 45, and 6 (three numbers no Jordan fan needs an explanation about) is inspiring.

As you can scroll through in the gallery, you can get a sense of the two different colorways. My personal opinion is that first, the black/red version jumped out to me as a copy/paste of signature Jordan elements (the elephant print, patent leather) but upon closer examination, I like the fusion of the two chief features. I think I’m just used to seeing both the print and the leather on their own, which I’ve always absolutely loved.

As I warmed to the black/red colorway, I still have yet to do the same on the black/team orange. I appreciate that the accentuated Jumpman logo stands the two colorways apart, but it doesn’t quite do it for me aesthetically (even if I were to imagine it in classic black/red).

Hatfield delivered one last bold statement on the XX9 design:

The Jordan XI was my favorite design. It was always one of our biggest leaps forward. The XX9 is in that league since the XI. It’s my opinion.

In the league of the XI? I need to see the XX9 Black/Red in person before I commit to agreeing. I, along with all of us, will get that chance sometime this September at the rumored price of $225.

What do you think of the XX9?


The time MJ wore Pennys

I’m feeling a lil’ MJ flashback on this edition of Old School Sundays as this story passed onto me yesterday by the Jack Silverstein (writer for Chicago Daily Law Bulletin) was too good not to post.

Remember that time that MJ wore Pennys? Yeah, it happened. Photographic evidence above. And the full story that will calm the senses of die hard Jordan fans below:

The Nike Air Flight One was Penny Hardaway’s first unofficial signature shoe. The shoe’s features were great, it had a super lightweight sole and also sported the iconic “1″ on the heeltab. His “Airness” himself, Michael Jordan, actually wore these in a game after his first retirement. Supposedly he wore these because the league’s restrictions held him back from unveiling the Air Jordan XI. The entire Bulls team at the time was wearing black shoes but the “Concords” were black/white. MJ cut the #1 off the heeltab which is kind of ironic because the Bulls lost to the Magic in the playoffs that year.

(via Forever Sneakz)

Heh! Still. Really weird to see Jordan in something other than Jordans. To a lesser extent, really weird to see the NBA on TBS logo.

Anyway, I’m not letting this post get away with a couple more MJ links Jack sent me — his interactive articles on the RedEye commemorating Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday last year — The evolution of Michael Jordan’s commercial character (a nice compliment to my piece of all of the Jordan commercials in one video) and my favorite one: Michael Jordan’s 10 underappreciated achievements. Even for me, a huge Jordan fan, I learned some things from that article that properly puts into perspective just how amazing Michael Jordan was in his illustrious career. Oh, and “5:30 Simpsons 6: Seinfeld 6:30 Jordan” was definitely the routine. All must-reads, and those videos will keep you busy today. Enjoy!

Penny wearing the first Pennys, 1995
Penny wearing the first Pennys, 1995


All Air Jordan Commercials in 1 video

Happy Birthday MJ! As our form of celebration, here’s a video I stumbled upon today: all of the Air Jordan commercials in one video. That’s right, you’ll get sucked in for potentially all 30 minutes of every Air Jordan commercial ever created, beginning with the Air Jordan I that was banned by the NBA. Man, I got sucked in because I love the 80s retro style in general and Nike’s narrator back in the day. And oh yeah, because Michael Jordan is sort of a hero of mine. Enjoy!