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ProjectMJ23
is an experience of travelling back into time.

Th<s Th^s painting  on the left above,
entitled, The Ones of ’84…

 

Is the first of 23 I’ll try to explain in rhyme.

1/23 The Ones of '84

While painting this piece, I kept thinking of all the trash-talk M.J. dished over the years.
So when you take in the scene with your eyes, make sure to also open your ears.

For example, the box and shoe reminisce constantly. They talk about legacy most of all.
Like how the mid-80s were oblivious to a pending dominance on basketball.

Specifically, think 1984, but not the Orwellian sort.
Instead, a fresh rookie arrives in Chi-town, a destined king of the court.

Magic’s Lakers in gold and Bird’s Celtics in green, reluctantly yielding to a young kid in 23-red, barely out of his teens.

And that roller-coaster, it’s a temporal metaphor with no real end or start.
The track loops infinitely like M.C. Escher art.

Each rung is a different Bulls game where greatness transpired.
From the rookie’s first bucket, to the day he finally (officially) retired.

But let’s return to the focal point, and the title headline, the Jordan One shoe.
It was also entering its formative stages of a legacy; a brand that grew and grew.

Retrospectively, when we look back and see,
both the rookie
and the shoe
Became icons of sport and fashion footwear, respectively.

But Larry Legend said it best in ‘86, after M.J. dropped 63 at the Garden.
He couldn’t believe what he witnessed. “He’s God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

2/23 Concord Jet

Dive into the headspace of an NBA defender guarding Jordan for this one.
D-up, low-post, incoming entry pass. Your ego soon to be undone.

As the pass floats in, time seems to slowwwwww.
But the thoughts in your head begin to race as you wonder how this will  go.

“How can I stop this? What the hell’s he gonna do?…
…I don’t wanna get embarrassed” – but you already knew.

See the mesh? Even it knows what’s on the way.
Shifting a smidge to the side in an anticipatory sway.

Normally in this spot, you’re about to get a free lesson.
Your fingers quiver like you’re staring down the barrel of a loaded Smith and Wesson.

The ball’s arriving now. Jordan’s position already established on the low block.
Don’t let your body language scream fear, he’ll sense it when he clutches the rock.

Two inevitabilities follow, you’re a turnstile or a hurdle.
Either way, be ready, it’s too late to run or turtle.

And like that…*poof*…he’s gone…before the blink of an eye.
Kind of rude really, leaving so soon without even saying goodbye.

3/23 The Moral Matador

Andele! Andele! El toro y el matador!
Bear witness, the bull and the Jordan 4!

Take heed, what’s before your eyes is not necessarily what’s real.
Like a stiletto on soft dirt, you cannot see the Spike of the heel.

Presented here, an age-old rivalry, raging bull versus cunning matador.
The classic battle that pits power against wisdom. A staple of every culture’s folklore.

A shoe with a moral compass and instructions, demanding we Do The Right Thing.
A bull like none other, its unrivaled drive and inner fire befits a king.

In their planetary system the heat radiates from official NBA leather.
Remember, in this universe things that seem separate can also be together.

So, at last, what we have here is not a clash of two historic foes.
Rather a case of self-vs-self, where only from within can the greatest challenge be posed.

4/23 3s Practicing Threes

When the gods bestow upon thee the gift of flight…
…any unperfected skills left to improve you must expedite.

Don’t get it twisted, if you can jump out’ the gym, by all means, posterize.
But Father Time watches basketball too, so to ignore the inevitable — unwise.

No one avoids aging or losing a step, not even the dogs on top.
You might be an All-NBA defender, but the hands of time you can’t stop.

Make note the red heel tab positioning of the Jordan 3 shoe.
It has not one significant reason for being angled but two:

1) Envision a tilted horned goat about to charge his head through the frame.
That’s the young explosive M.J. using athleticism to dominate the game.

2) See the fiery yellow ball being flung off the horn like it’s a Jai alai pelota…
…that’s older Mike adding range to his jumper, stooging defenders like “why I oughta!”

A requisite to hold the title Greatest Of All Time is a superior all-around game.
It takes more than speed, agility, and hangtime for a place in the Hall of Fame.

So while young M.J. attacked the rim more often than he scored from afar.
The entire time he was practicing adding a downtown threat to his repertoire.

5/23 Banner Knight

Bring a championship to a franchise, you’ll be revered forever.
The city will exalt you in exchange for that affirmation, victory, and pleasure.

Bring ‘em 6 titles in 8 years? That’s embarking on dynasty glory.
They’ll put a bronze monument outside the United Center to immortalize your story.

Like a warrior being knighted upon return from battle.
LA, Portland, Phoenix were the first victims; it’d be another three years before Seattle.

See the statue called The Spirit went up after just one three-peat, in 1994.
Imagine what Chicago thought of Mike when the Bulls won three more.

If you look at the painting’s fiery textures and rising flow…
…realize it was applied like celebratory confetti that joyful fans get to throw.

Personally, seeing M.J. watch his name being raised elicits fond childhood memories.
Generational talent like that comes fleetingly through the centuries.

So while his name and number are triumphantly raised for myriad factors…
…leading a team to 6 championships is ultimately why his 23-banner hangs in the rafters.

6/23 Bull’s Eye

In ProjectMJ23 there will be some themes repeated two or three fold.
It’s due to my bizarre obsession with numbers and patterns, or so I’ve been told.

Painting 6/23 is the first time we see Jordan in a proper portrait, here in profile.
It’s also the second painted bull in the series which I found very symbolically versatile.

The repeated theme in this piece is that the bull is metaphor.
We saw the same idea three paintings earlier in Moral Matador.

In both pieces, Jordan and the bull are one in the same.
No one pushed himself harder, whether in practice or game.

So again here we have man-vs-self, see that look in his eye?
Only a feeling of supreme confidence can produce a smile so wry.

7/23 Leader’s Look and Lean

A battle divided: two halves, four quarters, 48 actual game time minutes.
But there’s another war, between the whistles, void of psychological limits.

Basketball’s war of words never ceases. Jordan loved to jaw.
He took whatever edge possible, abusing any weakness he saw.

Trash wasn’t reserved solely for opponents. Coaches, refs, and teammates got theirs too.
He was overtly ruthless. All that mattered was the end game, seeing victory through.

This mental meta-game is played by many but mastered by few.
With proper execution you can make an opponent fully unglue.

Their era was stacked with talkers of smack: Jordan, Starks, Wilkins, Magic, Bird…
… trash-talk so pro they’d get in your head without saying a word.

Mike in this painting, with that “established 4th quarter veteran” look in his eye
…is telling whoever dare glance “things are about to intensify.”

And after years of carrying a Bulls Nation’s weight on your shoulder
…you find different paths to victory, regardless if your back and knees feel sore and older.

In the end, looking back on all the battles and all the trash that was said…
…even his worst enemies would admit he was a great leader who relentlessly led.

8/23 Deft Jam

Something funny happened around this time. I remember it like yesterday.
It was the start of 2015; the project’s progress about 1/3 of the way.

A dialog was bouncing around in my head.
Not quite verbatim, but in a nutshell, this is what was said:

“It’s been half a year, you’re at 7 of 23 pieces done…
…c’mon already, when are you gonna do a hanging tongue one?”

Fair enough. valid point, true.
It was, for sure, way past due.

It’s a Jordan staple. His tongue wag was as iconic as the Jumpman logo.
An infamous gesture of focus by a basketball virtuoso.

He learned it from his father, James, who said it helped with concentration.
Mike seemed to use it for superpowers, like warp speed or extended levitation.

A second more subtle feature of this piece relates to being athletically deft.
It’s not coincidence that the freeze frame you see depicts Jordan driving to his left.

In the end I wanted a moment showcasing drive, dexterity, and focus.
But without a tongue-hang piece, you can’t conduct a Michael Jordan Magnum Opus.

 

9/23 Universe Destiny

Of the 23, dimension-wise, this painting is the smallest.
Of the 23, relevance-wise, this painting stands tallest.

Why? What gives this one added “height,” added importance?
It’s the hindsight. Before the riches, the fame, the brand, the opulence.

It’s the youth, the possibilities, the uncertainty. Not knowing what the future will hold.
Much like hitting “The Shot” in ‘82, Mike learned early that fortune favors the bold.

My take is M.J. doesn’t become the M.J. we know today without UNC.
Three years under Dean Smith. Scrimmages against Dougherty, Perkins, Worthy.

If a different path gets taken, perhaps there’s no Chicago, no legacy, no threepeats.
Can you imagine Mike drafted to a small market team, packing a different stadium’s seats?

The thought of M.J. playing anywhere other than Chicago perplexes the brain.
Sorta like the Blazers passing on Mike at No. 2 in the ‘84 draft — completely insane.

But there’s a color-based reason why this painting carries extra weight.
It’s to do with M.J.’s well documented water phobia, which started around age eight.

He experienced the first of three separate terrible water-related accidents, in fact.
Seriously traumatic events, no matter who you are, make a lasting impact.

So, while this painting celebrates the beginning of a storied career,
It also pays respect to the past, vulnerability, and fear.

10/23 Corner Three-Sided Triangle

Like robots in disguise, art is often more than meets the eye.
For example, this painting, you might assume, is just about one guy.

But it’s not.
It’s different than you thought.

This one’s about teammates.
And about an offense that adjusts and anticipates.

Tex Winter brought it to Phil Jackson and Phil made everyone buy-in.
“Triangle” might sound simple, but there was much more than 180° of complexity within.

When the team finally mastered it, they transformed into conquerors.
A well-oiled machine dismantling all challengers.

But it wasn’t always easy. It took years to perfect.
Since everything connects……there was no detail the players or coaches could neglect.

The overseeing Bulls logo in the background knows he was there the whole time.
Endless hours of practice teaching an entire squad to nickel and dime.

Scotty, B.J., Kukoc, Oak, Paxson, Kerr…
…Grant, Cartwright, Longley, Hodges, Brown, the Worm.

Everyone knew their role and played their part.
An offense that could turn basic motion and rotation into contemporary art.

So when you see Mike in this piece, lofting a corner-three mesh bound……consider why he’s that open downtown,
pure fluid dynamics from the triangle worked that rock around.

11/23 Ehlo No!

I’ve probably seen this play, like a billion times. It never gets old.
A series ending dagger and a whole city is rocked, ferociously cold.

Series tied at 2, Game 5, six lead changes in the final 3 minutes.
But…only 1 score matters when the final stat sheet has 101:100 written in it.

Mike seemed to always have Cleveland‘s number…
…Like, “Pshhh, I can beat these guys eyes closed, unconscious slumber.”

And the rage-fueled flying fist pump…
…Like “Hey, Cleveland, see how high I can jump?”

You gotta feel for Ehlo, though. It’s not like he didn’t step his game up.
It’s just, as soon as Mike caught the entry pass,…Magic 8-ball was like, “Yup.”

It wasn’t a fair fight. How could he stop the guy?
One has to battle gravity; the other can fly!?!

Plus you just know they’re never gonna stop telling this story. Like, ever.
May 7, 1989  – The day that kickstarted M.J.’s buzzer-beating-playoff-clutchness endeavor.

Legendary Bulls announcer, Johnny Kerr, nails it. He matches M.J.’s energy to the limit.
Kerr as the basket rattles home, GOOOOOD! THE BULLS WIN IT! THEY WIN IT!”

12/23 Running Of The Bulls

Rookie Jordan gaining speed in the open court. Uh oh, this spells trouble.
Bulls on the run, quaking the earth into rubble.

If this sight is coming toward you, you’re facing two serious issues.
Young Mike was lightning in the open court — plus the shoes, the shoes, it’s gotta be the shoes!

Head up, eyes surveying the terrain like a military General.
An underrated passer scanning a full 360 peripheral.

The fastest athletes seem to glide when they accelerate.
Opponents look stuck in mud, while they seem to cruise downhill on roller skates.

Look at his feet: he’s basically floating down the floor.
Like a plane on a runway preparing to lift-off and soar.

Poor helpless defenders scuttling back to defend… they know they’re in a bind.
Tongue’s out again. He’s got something special in mind.
Something one of a kind.
Fans with busted VHS remotes – Worn down from grind…
He played in fast forward. – We stopped to rewind.

13/23 The Spectrum

Much like the acrylic on this canvas, the message can be spread over a broad continuum.
That’s the one main reason why it goes by the title The Spectrum.

Spectrum of color likely comes to mind first.
All types of paint used in splats, squirts, drips and bursts.

But a spectrum can also span a range of knowledge, skillset, and awareness.
Attributes that came in spades for His Airness.

You could see it most in the latter years of his career.
Figuring out different ways to lead and win with each passing year.

They say it comes with age.
With fancy words for it like savvy, wisdom or veteran sage.

But those words are vague. How is late career leadership really done?
M.J. in his 30s, dropped 30 pts/game in smarter ways than rookie Mike at 21.

Go back and compare tactics from classic games on YouTube. The transformation is brilliant.
When you’ve spent a decade working the refs, the extra 50/50 calls you earn are imminent.

Extra foul calls are huge. Those bonus trips to the line add up
Plus, with opponents in foul trouble, coaches can’t get their preferred match-up.

Consider a graph “Ref favoritism of player vs years played.” We’d see a parabolic curve.
Flat for the first few seasons but then a sharp upwards swerve.

Now, enjoy a fictitious sports formula:

So we’ve looked at spectrums of color, wisdom, and, above all, respect.
Occasionally he needed a little help from the zebras (refs) because even Mike wasn’t perfect.

And the final piece of the puzzle, the last item to add to the sum,
M.J.’s final game in the NBA in was 2003, in Philadelphia, in a building called The Spectrum.

14/23 Apophenia 85:86|87:86

This painting is distinct from the rest. It has secret number messages inside.
It’s a world where the details of his career and his last game as a Bull coincide.

The bucket he’s about to hit here puts a final stamp on a golden age.
To watch it brought to life in animation form, please visit this page:

15/23 Perfect 50

A sky/landscape like this is a peak into my imaginary world, what I envision in my mind.
Twirling architectural currents both low and high, seemingly intertwined.

There’s unlimited symbolism in its fluid motion, fluctuating velocity, and acceleration.
When those qualities shine through in life, nature, or sports, it’s cause for celebration.

Just imagine for a moment, what it must feel like to fly.
To take off from the free throw line and shoot straight into the sky!

To elevate through the ceiling and rise up through a cloud.
Then imagine doing it at All-Star weekend in front of your hometown crowd.

That must be what Mike felt at the United Center back in February 1988.
Scoring a perfect 50 and winning the NBA Dunk Contest, but…not without debate.

I remember watching it like it was yesterday. A rematch of the ‘87 finals: Jordan vs Wilkins.
You’re sitting there watching these crazy dunks when suddenly, the plot thickens!

You see, both dunkers brought their A games. Their slams getting better with each go.
But the scoring of the late rounds became suspicious. Hometown bias, Chicago?

First, M.J. scores a 47 on a ridiculous dunk that was clearly worth more.
Leaving, for Dominique, the proverbial wide open door.

Wilkins doesn’t just walk through the door; he busts down the entire wall with his slam.
His ferocious two-handed windmill had enough power to light up Amsterdam.

He would have secured the win with a modest 48, but it was worthy of a perfect score.
So when the judges give him 45, even the locals in attendance let out a Bronx roar.

Two judges native to the city plus a raucous crowd. The perfect recipe to cook up a “fix.”
Basketball conspiracy theorists have been eating this up for years. Classic David Stern politics.

Irrespective of that night’s speculation and conjecture, there is one thing we cannot deny.
The moment Jordan lifted off that court, we witnessed magic, a human being given to fly!

16/23 Repose

This is a painting about the value of retrospection.
How when we recall the who, what, where and why of our lives they form a storied collection.

It’s about remembering to respect what we see in the rearview.
Recognizing the pieces that form the past as well as the “…to be continued.”

In order to be truly present in the moment, appreciate reminders to take time to reminisce.
If Mike himself didn’t exemplify such leadership and guidance, this poem would be remiss.

But at the toughest moment in his life, losing his father to crime in ’93…
rather than a tragic loss looking forward sadly, he looked back and said he felt lucky…
…appreciating the time they shared — solace gathered retrospectively.

 

17/23 Age Range

What you see here is Jordan in his mid-30s. Circa the second of two Bulls’ threepeats.
Still winning championships, still lifting fans out of their seats.

I wanted a painting that captured an age range, matching my own during this art project.
A sign of appreciation for how much time and effort it takes to attain goals. A sign of respect.

I also wanted this piece to show drive and determination.
Just put your head down and get to that endpoint — no hesitation.

Basketball itself has a lot of verbs to describe determined play and getting to the rim.
Drive, attack, penetrate, slice, dice, etc. Go ahead, pick your favorite synonym.

The game’s vernacular has expanded over time and acronyms added too.
“Who’s the G.O.A.T.?” is a common subjective discussion, with varying points of view.

Young fans today, most of them weren’t even alive to see Mike in his prime.
They say the greatest ever is Kobe, Lebron, Wade and now KD or Steph some of the time.

It’s understandable why. It’s who they see most online and on TV.
It’s who they control in video games. Who they try to play like, who they try to be.

As the years pass, the impact legends have on future generations slowly dissipates.
It’s a force of time. The further back memories go, the more they fade into statistics and dates.

I’m sure I’m just as biased towards Jordan because that’s who I watched in my youth.
Folks older than me might argue that Kareem, the Big O, West, Russell, or Wilt were the truth.

No matter what generation we grow up in and which players we regard as greatest ever,…
…their legendary accomplishments along the way are the only relevant objective measures.

What you see here is Jordan in his mid-30s. Circa the second of two Bulls’ threepeats.
Still winning championships, still lifting fans out of their seats.

I wanted a painting that captured an age range, matching my own during this art project.
A sign of appreciation for how much time and effort it takes to attain goals. A sign of respect.

I also wanted this piece to show drive and determination.
Just put your head down and get to that endpoint — no hesitation.

Basketball itself has a lot of verbs to describe determined play and getting to the rim.
Drive, attack, penetrate, slice, dice, etc. Go ahead, pick your favorite synonym.

The game’s vernacular has expanded over time and acronyms added too.
“Who’s the G.O.A.T.?” is a common subjective discussion, with varying points of view.

Young fans today, most of them weren’t even alive to see Mike in his prime.
They say the greatest ever is Kobe, Lebron, Wade and now KD or Steph some of the time.

It’s understandable why. It’s who they see most online and on TV.
It’s who they control in video games. Who they try to play like, who they try to be.

As the years pass, the impact legends have on future generations slowly dissipates.
It’s a force of time. The further back memories go, the more they fade into statistics and dates.

I’m sure I’m just as biased towards Jordan because that’s who I watched in my youth.
Folks older than me might argue that Kareem, the Big O, West, Russell, or Wilt were the truth.

No matter what generation we grow up in and which players we regard as greatest ever,…
…their legendary accomplishments along the way are the only relevant objective measures.

 

 

 

18/23 2x3y

Pretend this abstract architecture is Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short.
Way before nurture plays a role in lives, we have nature’s biologically coded report.

The twisted double helix of life holds everyone and everything’s unique blueprints.
A truly inconceivable history of time, from single-cell organism to every organism since.

But this is basketball. Why convolute biology with sports and art?
The answer lies in the title, so let’s go there to start.

Human cells contain 23 pairs of chromosomes. The last pair, for gender, is XY in males.
2x3y is an amalgamation of math, jersey no. 23, and the aforementioned biological details.

Math uses x and y as axes on graphs as well as parts of an equation.
2 x 3y is a formulaic way of expressing “double (2x) threepeats (3y)” for Bulls Nation.

What a dynasty. In an eight year span, twice winning three years in a row!
Each season with its own unique DNA. Like watching six different champion embryos grow.

Want some bonus numerology, just for fun. Count the rungs on the DNA structure, there are 18.
Coincidentally, this is piece 18 of 23. It’s as if this chromosome has a serendipity gene!

19/23 One On One

What would you do in this situation? One-on-one against a giant.
Nostrils flaring. Massive hooves pounding the turf. A sound intimidatingly strident.

Raging bull again. Another Dunk Contest pose. These are repeated themes we’ve already seen.
The difference this time, a juxtaposition of size, flipped to opposite extremes.

Like the famous 90s slogan, Jordan played with “No Fear.”
It helps when you know you’re innately equipped with aircraft takeoff gear.

I love this snapshot from the ‘88 Dunk Contest and the way his gold necklace floats in the air.
As if it was waiting for this chance to elevate and be sent skyward like a prayer.

The vertical distance to travel is huge with that basket so high.
Consider a spaceship preparing for takeoff making sure fuel is in full supply.

It’s a pleasure to envision the finish of this, of this dunk in your mind.
The completion of the rotation so quick, it’s like the tip of a pen finishing an autograph signed.

Close your eyes. Picture the bull charging and stomping but missing as Mike first takes flight.
The rage-fueled body check crashing down to earth as the smaller human’s engines ignite.

The dunk explodes through the rim as the giant looks up staring skyward, humbled.
Wondering how the target flew passed him as the earth he crushed below crumbled.

20/23 M-W-Why

This piece tells a few stories. Topping the list is Jordan’s first retirement in ‘93.
Michael Jordan walking away from basketball, both figuratively and literally.

Sports Illustrated used this image of M.J. on their cover, along with a single word: “Why?”
It was October 18, 1993 and the NBA was about to start a season without their primary guy.

On a lighter note, the painting’s about numbers and this time, also some play with the alphabet.
The M for Mike is obvious, but there’s also a “W” formed by the Bat-signal Jumpman silhouette.

“W” is the 23rd letter, and in sports when you talk about Ws you’re talking about wins.
If the rescue lights come on it means common civilian time stops and “Hero time” begins.

Notice, also, the angled M-structure has 2 points at the top and 3 on the bottom.
Meanwhile, the painting suggests: Michael Jordan is to the NBA as Bruce Wayne is to Gotham.

Here’s one more. For fun, count the bridges on the M, you’ll find 23. That was totally by chance.
I found an unfinished canvas from 2003. The red-M matched perfectly by happenstance.

21/23 Jam Space

Personally, of all 23, this painting creates the most visceral of memory flashbacks.
I combined the dunk, from the cover of my favorite M.J. VHS tape, with planets in parallax.

That video, Come Fly With Me, made me think of the cosmos when I first watched it in ’89.
I wanted the painting to manifest an atmosphere of kinetic synchronicity, like when planets align.

Think of the rim as the Sun with the first 3 planets Mercury, Venus, and Earth circuiting in orbit.
Being one of the bigger canvases, it felt like Mike was literally jumping straight outta the portrait.

Jordan’s appeal was global. In this visual pun, he’s got the whole world in the palm of his hands.
Even this game in Springfield, Massachusetts garnered standing room only space in the stands.

Yup, Springfield. Many people don’t know this famous dunk is from an exhibition game in ‘87.
Likely they recall how he solar-power-slammed the ball on his head. Pure artistic expression!

22/23 Bookended

If a picture says 1000 words, what happens when your whole life is on camera?
The price to pay for global recognition is steep and requires a unique form of stamina.

But that’s the gravitational pull that comes with being a superstar.
Everyone’s got their hands out assuming yours is an unlimited reservoir.

Relentless media either patting your back or pouring salt.
Bipolar reactions. You either saved the day or it’s all your fault.

Such is the weight a superstar must bear.
From the moment M.J. hit “the shot” for UNC, he was under a microscopic stare.

The loops and twists you see represent his career’s tumultuousness.
They’re also painted like floating film-reels capturing something impossible to express.

The idea arose from a recent M.J. biography I read called The Life by Roland Lazenby.
ProjectMJ23, to me, like his book in the upper right, is my version of a Jordan art-o-biography.

This is the only time I painted M.J. twice. Below as a vet and as a Tarheel in air suspended.
“The shot” that put him on the map, led to everything that followed, a career bookended.

23/23 Jam Space

EDIT** Putting final touches on painting

23/23 The Legacy Stamp

When I started this monumental project, I knew I’d be faced with a slew of difficult challenges.
If I learned anything from Jordan over time it’s “bury the negatives” and “amplify the advantages.”

During the process, the end always felt lightyears away.
Now that it’s complete, it still doesn’t feel real, even to this day.

Twenty-three paintings matched with 23 poems, an animated video and a book.
Three years, 2 months, and a handful of days was all it took.

Selecting topics and visuals for the 23rd painting was a bit daunting.
Legacy indicators that leave endless impressions is what I wound up wanting.

I’ve never felt satisfaction quite like a final brush stroke on this canvas or the “!” on the writing.
But Project M.J. 23 is officially complete and it’s equal parts exhilarating, scary and exciting!

24/23 Closing Remarks

Like a lot of basketball fans in the 80s and 90s, I was ridiculously preoccupied with following everything involving the Chicago Bulls and, more specifically, Michael Jordan. It was a special time to love basketball and the NBA. You had Bird and Magic’s dueling Celtics and Lakers both coming to grips with having to make way for a Windy City Bulls team lead by this 6’ 6” shooting guard who could basically jump out of the damn arena. A player so explosive, he was setting the whole league ablaze. Shit, the whole world for that matter.
It was like watching a sports legacy being carved right before our eyes. A legacy of a career that many would later describe as the greatest of all time. To put it simply, growing up a fan during the Jordan-era Bulls dynasty was fun. A lot of fun. When M.J. was drafted by Chicago in 1984, I was 3 years old. When he became the second ever player in NBA history, behind only Wilt Chamberlain, to score more than 3000 points in a season (1986-1987), I was in my first year of grade school and already hooked on basketball. I still remember how excited I was on my tenth birthday, in early June of ‘91, knowing that the Bulls were just two wins away from their first ever NBA title as they held a 2-1 series lead over the Lakers.
That night I couldn’t sleep, I was so excited for game 4.
For Bulls fans everywhere, those years were like being on the best thrill-ride in the park and you never wanted it to end. But much like holidays, concerts, and the last roll of toilet paper, all good things inevitably come to an end. And in the summer of 2003, Michael Jordan, for the final time, hung ’em up for good. No, for real this time. He actually, officially, retired.
Fast forward more than a decade and his impact still leaves a lasting impression. Having a legendary sports icon like Michael Jordan as the focal point of this Project M.J. 23 was an honor and a way for me to pay tribute to those times.

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