During the Chicago Bulls’ recent game in Salt Lake City, Utah, a fan at the Utah Jazz game heckled Michael Jordan to dunk on legendary point guard John Stockton. Jordan’s response? Jordan heard the heckler and handled the situation like a pro.
In an interesting display of sportsmanship, basketball legend and former Utah Jazz player Michael Jordan quickly and politely silenced a fan who heckled him for dunking on John Stockton. As the video shows, the fan shouts out, asking Jordan if he “is big enough” to dunk on Stockton. Jordan then points to the scoreboard and says, “Oh, I see. He’s playing. Go ahead and yell at him.”
In the NBA, fans often get a bad rap for various reasons. Traditionally, though, fans have been held in high regard for their passion and their willingness to pay hefty prices to see their favorite players in action. But in a recent incident in Salt Lake City, a fan was jeered loudly by a fellow fan for a very different reason: a lack of skill.
Michael Jordan will be eternally connected to many NBA teams, despite being most closely identified with the Chicago Bulls. Of course, there are the Washington Wizards, with whom he spent the last two seasons of his career. However, the Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks, and, perhaps most importantly, the Detroit Pistons are all worth watching. In the Eastern Conference, MJ and the Bulls fought these clubs for years, and they all played important parts in Jordan’s career. But we mustn’t forget about Jordan’s last two NBA titles, which he won against the Utah Jazz.
But, before MJ shattered the hearts of the Jazz and their supporters with some of the most iconic Finals performances in NBA history, he delivered another great event involving a Utah fan.
Michael Jordan was heckled by a Jazz fan and swiftly silenced him.
Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls during the 1987-88 NBA season | Mike Powell/Allsport
Jordan and the Bulls went to Utah on December 2, 1987, for an early-season game against the Jazz. The Bulls had the superior record at 11-3, but Utah, who came in with a 7-6 record, seized control early and led 27-20 after the first quarter.
Jordan was coming off a season-low 16-point performance against the Golden State Warriors, and he looked eager to get going right away. As the first half continued, he kept the Bulls close, and with just under a minute left in the second, he posted up John Stockton, who is approximately five inches shorter than MJ. When Scottie Pippen, who was still a rookie and coming off the bench at the time, saw the mismatch, he immediately delivered a pass that Stockton tried to steal but missed, and Jordan quickly pivoted and banged it home.
On Utah’s next possession, Stockton dribbled up the floor and was fouled by Pippen, giving him two foul throws. While all of this was going on, a random Jazz supporter yelled something to the effect of, “Hey, Jordan, pick on someone your own size!”
Stockton makes both free throws, and Utah switches to a full-court press, which the Bulls easily break in two passes. Jordan was the recipient of the second pass, which he got near the foul line with just one defender between him and the hoop. Mel Turpin, a 6-foot-11-inch, 240-pound Jazz center, was that defender. Jordan, on the other hand, went to the air and soared above Turpin for a tomahawk slam.
Jordan turned around and questioned the fan, “Was he large enough?” as he raced back down the court. That remark, I suppose, was taken personally by His Airness.
Jordan led the Bulls to a comeback win with 47 points.
While the Jordan-Stockton-Turpin narrative has grown legendary over the past three decades, it’s not like it was the only thing the game had to offer; it was also very entertaining and competitive.
After losing by seven points after the first quarter, the Bulls reduced the deficit to one point at halftime, falling down 52-46. Utah led by three points after three quarters, 79-76. And by the conclusion of 48 minutes, Jordan and his teammates had completed the comeback and won 105-101.
Jordan made 15 additional shots from the floor that night, including a spectacular reverse layup, in addition to the dunks on Stockton and Turpin. He finished with 47 points on 17-for-27 shooting and 13-for-16 shooting from the foul line, as well as nine assists, four rebounds, three blocks, and three steals. John Paxson, who went 9-for-16 from the field and 3-for-4 from the charity stripe for 19 points, was feeling it as well. Pippen scored 11 points off the bench for the Bulls.
The Jazz were led by Karl Malone, who had 33 points and 14 rebounds, and Stockton, who had 14 points and 11 assists.
MJ’s last two NBA championships came against the Jazz.
Jordan and the Bulls faced Stockton, Malone, and the Jazz in the 1997 NBA Finals, almost a decade after silenced the random fan. After averaging 32.3 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and 1.2 steals per game, MJ led Chicago to victory in six games, including the infamous “Flu Game.” He earned his sixth NBA Finals MVP title after averaging 32.3 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and 1.2 steals.
In the 1998 Finals, the two teams faced again, with Chicago winning in six games. Jordan was named MVP for the second year in a row, averaging 33.5 points, four rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.8 steals per game. The series was finished off with MJ’s game-winning jumper in Game 6, which will go down in NBA history as one of the most memorable sights ever.
Basketball Reference provided the statistics.
RELATED: Why Didn’t John Stockton Want Any Part of the ‘Michael Jordan Puff Piece’ Called ‘The Last Dance’?
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