10 moments that defined Michael Jordan's basketball career

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10 moments that defined Michael Jordan's basketball career

Michael Jordan and UNC defeated Patrick Ewing and Georgetown in the 1982 NCAA Championship game. As a freshman, Jordan hit the game-winning shot.

(Photo by Georgetown/Collegiate Images/Getty Images.)

Jordan turned in a legendary playoff performance by scoring 63 points against Larry Bird and the vaunted Boston Celtics in 1986. 

(Photo by Dick Raphael/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jordan's performance in the 1988 dunk contest, where he defeated Dominique Wilkins in the final, became synonymous with the man dubbed "His Airness."

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Jordan hit the game-winning jumper, dubbed "The Shot," over the Cleveland Cavaliers' Craig Ehlo that decided the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round playoff series.

(Ed Wagner Jr./Chicago Tribune/MCT via Getty Images)

Having struggled for playoff success early in his career, Jordan emotionally celebrated his first title after defeating the Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals.

(AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Jordan led the United States to gold in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. With professional players allowed in the tournament for the first time, the "Dream Team" is widely credited for boosting basketball's profile on the global stage.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

In 1993, Jordan stunningly retired to pursue a career in professional baseball. After several seasons of underwhelming results, Jordan returned to basketball in 1995 -- marking his first game back with 19 points against the Indiana Pacers.

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz, Jordan turned in a monster, 38-point performance all while clearly struggling with the flu. Dubbed "The Flu Game," Jordan's performance is considered typifying of his legendary competitive nature.

(Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

What was his last-ever shot in the NBA (until his return with the Washington Wizards), Jordan buried the game-winning jumper over Jazz guard Byron Russell to clinch the 1997 NBA Finals.

(AP Photo/Fred Jewell )

Considering the fairy-tale ending to his Bulls career, Jordan's decision to come out of retirement once again (this time with the Wizards) was highly controversial among his fans. Still, the 40-year-old proved he could still play at the highest level with a 43-point performance against the New Jersey Nets.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Inducted into in the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, Jordan delivered a fiery speech that thanked both his numerous supporters and detractors throughout his career.

(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)


The greatest to ever play the game of basketball, Michael Jordan left behind a sporting legacy of which most athletes can only dream. A prolific scorer, tenacious defender and high-flying dunker, Jordan electrified the NBA in a playing career that crossed three decades and just as many retirements.

Further, Jordan revolutionized the position of the athlete in the digital age by cultivating an individual brand through movie appearances, iconic ad campaigns and the development of his own line of shoes and apparel.

SEE ALSO: The all-overachiever NBA team of the 1st half

Collecting all the highlights from Jordan's career would be an impossible task, so instead celebrate Jordan's 52nd birthday by enjoying 10 on-the-court moments that defined MJ's basketball brilliance.

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