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The NBA
Kelly Whiteside
April 10, 1995
Everybody Likes Mike
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April 10, 1995

The Nba

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PLAYER

GAMES

POINTS

ASISTS

TOTAL OFFENSE

AVERGE

John Stockton, Jazz

73

1,091

913

2,917

40.0

Tim Hardaway, Warriors

62

1,247

578

2,403

38.8

Dana Barros, Sixers

71

1,460

519

2,498

35.2

Hakeem Olajuwon, Rockets

67

1,869

242

2,353

35.1

Gary Pay ton, Sonics

71

1,455

515

2,485

35.0

Anfernee Hardaway, Magic

70

1,485

479

2,443

34.9

Shaquille O'Neal, Magic

70

2,060

190

2,440

34.9

Nick Van Exel, Lakers

69

1,180

579

2,338

33.9

Karl Malone, Jazz

73

1,937

243

2,423

33.2

Mookie Blaylock, Hawks

72

1,226

552

2,330

32.4

Minimum 50 games. Source: Elias Sports Bureau

Everybody Likes Mike

Perhaps someday there will be a play on Broadway entitled Jordanmania; perhaps college students will one day take a course called " Michael Jordan: Pop Culture Icon of the Late 20th Century"; perhaps there will be an all-basketball cable channel, MJTV; and perhaps Chicago will be turned into a Jordanian Graceland, a place worshipers will visit simply to pay homage to the city's most famous inhabitant. If last week's craziness is any indication of what is to come, these notions are not as far-fetched as they might seem.

"When it is perceived as a religion, that's when I'm embarrassed by it," says the holy Bull himself of the attention his second coming has attracted.

Last week, almost no one was immune to—or out of range of—the Jordan frenzy. In Chicago, SportsChannel broadcast 24 consecutive hours of Michael Jordan programming and titled the epic Scrapbook of a Champion. On March 28 in New York, nearly 350 reporters from 12 countries witnessed Jordan's breathtaking 55-point performance (an NBA season high in only his fifth game back) in the Bulls' 113-111 win over their archrivals, the Knicks, at Madison Square Garden.

"To a certain degree I understand the O.J. Simpson thing, but I don't like to be in the same avenue, from a media standpoint," says Jordan. "This is not a life-or-death thing, this is just a game."

But Jordan has touched more than just the game since his return on March 18:

?All of Gotham, or so it seemed, was transfixed by the event, which one New York columnist called the "most magnetic regular-season game in New York history." Some fans paid scalpers more than $1,000 for a ticket. Normally bustling restaurants suddenly had tables available as diners stayed home to watch Jordan score 20 in the first period, 35 by halftime and 49 at the end of three quarters.

? Jordan is sport's Home Improvement, 60 Minutes and Roseanne combined. TNT estimated that about 12 million people watched its cable broadcast of the Bulls- Knicks game, which received a 5.1 rating nationwide—the highest for any regular-season game in the 11 years Turner Broadcasting has televised the NBA.

?In Chicago the demand for Michaelabilia has exceeded the supply. At the United Center, 150 dozen $50 Jordan jerseys with his new number, 45, were sold during four games there. "The god of merchandising broke all our records for sales," says Brad Riggert, head of merchandising at the United Center.

Nationwide, more of those Jordan number 45 Champion jerseys sold in two weeks than the preceding month's sales of souvenir Shaquille O'Neal, Anfernee Hardaway and Grant Hill jerseys combined. (Another sign of number 45's popularity: Champion has reported a flourishing counterfeiting business.)

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