My favorite era when it comes to NBA basketball is the 1990s. I was lucky enough to be able to watch Michael Jordan win 6 championships during what I like to call the golden era. If your not at all familiar with Michael Jordan’s moves, today you will get a taste of what type of player he was and what people expected of him every time he stepped on the court, he was never anything short of amazing each time he played.
Today I want to take a trip down memory lane and look back at Michael Jordan’s iconic signature moves and unbelievable plays. I will be presenting to you my top 5 and provide a video so you have something visual to entertain you. Michael Jordan played in a way that seemed that he was in his prime his whole career. Much like Lebron James today they both didn’t seem like they were slowing down.
What special move was Michael Jordan Famous for?
Michael Jordan could do it all, he had very few weaknesses if any. The 6 feet 6-inch shooting guard played with a 44 inch vertical which allowed him to do drive to the basket and jump while mid-air decides what acrobatic play he’s going to decide to do depending on how the defense contests him.
Michael Jordan had one signature special move that he relied on, playing out of Phil Jackson’s triangle offense, Jordan played mostly with his back to the basket during his dynasty run. The fadeaway shot was Jordan’s signature move and it was very effective. Playing defense on a player who is fading away is difficult enough to contest the shot.
When Michael used the fadeaway it was a whole other different story. Jordan would receive the ball and post up low to mid-post with his back away from the basket. This was followed by a barrage of fakes, which ended with two things happening. The first Jordan would score on his opponent. The second Jordan would draw the foul.
To think Michael Jordan played in an era where there was hand checking and common fouls that would be considered flagrant fouls in today’s NBA. But now let’s take a look at my top 5 plays in no particular order of Michael Jordan. I understand everyone will agree or disagree, and Jordan definitely had many plays in which could have made the list, but these are the most memorable to me.
Top 5 Signature Plays of Michael Jordan
1 – Free-throw line Dunk
In 1988 Jordan was defending his title during the NBA All-Star game in the Dunk Contest. Facing off in the finals with Dominque Wilkins from the Atlanta Hawks. Each player was given 3 dunks. Jordan needed a 50 on his last dunk to seal the deal, the dunk in which he chose was the free-throw line dunk.
It has been attempted and made many times, but rarely ever the way Michael Jordan does it with his foot on the line. You can see in the video below that it was almost as if he could have jumped much further before the line as he was able to dunk it pretty easily even adding a pump mid-air.
2 – “The Shot” Over Craig Ehlo
In 1989 in the first round of the Eastern Conference, Jordan’s Bulls faced off against the Clevland Cavaliers in game 5 of a best of 5 series. With the series tied and Clevland up by one point with 3 seconds left, the Chicago Bulls had only a miracle left.
The ball was inbounded on the sideline and Jordan received it on the wing near the inbounder and dribbled it to the free-throw line hanging in mid-air and shooting it over Craig Ehlo. Jordan would hit the game-winner with no time left sealing the advancement to the second round.
This was a heartbreaking loss for the Cavs as during the regular season the Cavaliers swept the bulls 6-0. Jordan finished the game with 44 points and the game-winner to this day is known as “THE SHOT”.
In the documentary, The Last dance describes two moments during this play that happened. The first was what Jordan was saying after he made his shot and was fist-pumping mid-air. Those words “Get the ***k outta here! and Go ****en anywhere, but you’re outta here!
The second part that was revealed in the documentary was told by Ron Harper. Prior to the shot, a timeout was called and Harper remembered telling Ehlo that he would guard Jordan but Ehlo said no. In the end, I don’t think it would have mattered who guard Jordan. Later Harper would later be Jordan’s teammate in the second three-peat in the mid-90s and I am sure Jordan reminds him from time to time of that play.
3 – Game Winner 1998 Utah Jazz
In 1998 in game 6 of the NBA Finals, it was the Bulls vs the Jazz. This was the second year in a row the two teams would meet in the finals. The series was 3 to 2 for Chicago and the Bulls were down one point with 20 seconds left when Jordan stole the ball from Karl Malone.
Jordan dribbles up the ball down the court to take the last shot. While there was already talk that this would be the last game Jordan played as he was going to retire.
His last-second matchup was with Bryon Rusell. Rusell was someone who had always trash-talked Jordan for most of his career, it resulted in the perfect irony. Many people will never forget that shot watching it that day. I will let the video speak for itself.
4 – Switch Layup Against the 1991 Lakers
In Michael Jordan’s journey to winning his first championship against Magic and the Lakers, Jordan showed why he was called “Michael Air Jordan”. Jordan received a pass from his teammate at the top of the key in which he took one dribble and took flight to the basket, as he was mid-air to dunk the basketball, he saw the defense jump up to block his shot. He fooled the defense by switching the basketball to his other hand mid-air and layup the shot the way only Michael knows how.
Bonus – Layup against the New Jersey Nets
Okay I know I said top 5 but I had to put this one in. Something that we saw time and time again from Michael Jordan as fans is his ability to hang mid-air for what seemed forever. At the same time, he would put up circus shots as if to say he had planned it all along.
One such famous lay up was against the nets in 1991, in which he went by 4 of the Nets players to put up this circus layup. Jordan’s highlights seemed ahead of it’s time. This one may be better than the “Switch Layup”, you decide.
Two hand block grab with the Washington Wizards
This is what I believe to be the greatest block that I have ever seen. First the back story Michel Jordan is playing for the Washington Wizards at the age of 39 years of age. The most incredible thing about this story is that Michael Jordan gets the ball and dribbles from the wing to the free-throw line and shoots only to get his shot blocked by Metta World Peace (Ron Artest).
Jordan then runs back down to play defense as the ball is thrown to the lead man Ron Mercer, who goes one on one with Hubert Davis. Ron Mercer goes up for a layup and out of nowhere Jordan trailing goes up and two hands the basketball pinning it against the backboard and catching it in mid-air. Now is this a steal or a block or both. All kidding aside this was a block against his former team the Chicago Bulls. Not bad for being 39.