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'Air' Jordan floats into Hall of Fame
Air Jordan has a new name: Hall of Famer.
Michael Jordan was elected to the Hall of Fame class of 2009 on Monday, New Jordans set for induction from September 1012 with his Dream Team teammates David Robinson and John Stockton.
"I don't like being up here for the Hall of Fame because at that time your basketball career is completely over," Jordan said. "I was hoping this day would be 20 more years, or actually go in when I'm dead and gone."
Jordan's Hall of Fame selection was a slam dunk after he retired as perhaps the New Jordans greatest player in history. And he gave much of the credit on Monday to his college coach.
"There's no way you guys would have got a chance to see Michael Jordan play without Dean Smith," he said.
His soaring dunks, TV commercials and "Air Jordan" nickname helped stamp him as one the most recognisable athletes around the world. He finished a 15year career with the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards with 32,292 points the thirdhighest total in league history, behind Kareem AbdulJabbar and Karl Malone. His final career average of 30.12 points per game goes down as the best, just ahead of Wilt Chamberlain's 30.07.
"Simply the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. He is the one Air Jordans player that each young person in this league should emulate and aspire to become. His work ethic, drive, skill level and competitive spirit were unmatched," Jordan's former Bulls teammate and now team GM, John Paxson said.
Jordan was a fivetime NBA MVP and won six championships with the Bulls.
He retired twice during his career. He first came back to the Bulls in 1994 and won three more championships before retiring again in 1998, then had an illfated twoyear stint with the Washington Wizards before calling it quits for good in 2003. He's now managingAir Jordans partner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
On Monday, he joked that when he saw Stockton and Robinson he was ready to put his shorts on again.
"I always want to be able to have you thinking I can always go back and play the game of basketball and put your shorts on," Jordan said. "Hall of Fame to me is like, OK, it's over and done with."
Jordan won two of his titles in the 1990s against Sloan, Stockton and the Jazz. Stockton spent his entire career with Utah and finished with 19,711 points, and holds NBA records 15,806 assists and 3,265 steals. He also holds NBA records for most assists in a season (1,164 in 199091) and highest assist average in a season (14.5 in 198990).
"Growing up I never thought about the Hall of Fame,"Retro Jordans Stockton said. "All I wanted was a chance to go to college."
Utah took Stockton in the first round of the 1984 draft and he became one of the top point guards.
Robinson joined Stockton and Jordan as members of the NBA's Retro Jordans 50th anniversary team.
He had a stellar 14year career with the San Antonio girl jordansSpurs that included two NBA championships, an MVP season, a rookie of the year award, 10 AllStar selections, a scoring title and two Olympic gold medals. Unlike Jordan's inability to stay home after his final shot in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, Robinson was content to retire after winning a second title with the Spurs in 2003.
"If I had to pick one night in my career, it would probably be girl jordans walking off the court as a champion and knowing that was going to be my last memory of basketball," Robinson said.
Sloan, who did not attend the ceremony, is the longest tenured head coach in major league sports with a single franchise. Sloan is the only NBA coach to win more than 1,000 games with a single team and has the Jazz in seventh place in the Western Conference going into Monday night's games.
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