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EXCERPT | March 13, 1989
Michael Jordan carried the Bulls—and paid the price
In his fifth NBA season Jordan was a one-man show, lifting the Bulls while taking a beating from teams bent on stopping him. In this report, SI's Jack McCallum posed the question, How much can he take?
Real men get their nails done. At least, Michael Jordan does, and the consensus is that Jordan is one real man. Besides, today he must look sharp, feel sharp and be sharp, for in a few hours he will attend a party in Chicago to celebrate his appearance on the cover of the March issue of Gentlemen's Quarterly.
So, that takes care of Jordan's hands. But what about the tender feet, the aching back, the throbbing knees and the burning lungs? Any therapy for them? The questions are relevant because last year's MVP in the NBA has once again hoisted the Bulls upon his splendid but by no means oversized shoulders, taken a deep breath and said, "Welcome aboard, guys, let's see how far we can get this time." Through Sunday, Jordan led the league in minutes per game (40.4), points (33.4) and steals (3.07). He also paced Chicago in assists (6.9) and, of course, the universe in oohs and aahs generated (no estimate).
But statistics and minutes played aren't the whole story. The way Jordan performs brings his longevity into question. "He plays every game like it's his last," says Atlanta guard Doc Rivers. "I think the Bulls can rest him more. I know it's tough, but I think they're good enough to win if he plays three or four minutes a game less. They just don't know it."
Jordan and the Bulls fell to the Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals—then lost to them again the next year. Chicago won its first title in 1991.
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