When The G.O.A.T Became The Greatest of All-Time

Prior to the 1998 NBA lockout, the world witnessed one of the most iconic events in sports history. David Halberstam, a journalist for The New Yorker at the time, published an article detailing Michael Jordan’s heroics in game six of the 1998 NBA Finals in which he led his Chicago Bulls to their third consecutive Championship and second three-peat in franchise history. Jordan was a man who had previously played in and won five NBA finals; however, this time was different. Jordan was facing arguably his hardest opposition yet in the fundamentally sound, Utah Jazz, led by Hall of Famer Karl Malone and John Stockton. Malone was a dominate big-man in the paint and could score almost at will, Stockton was a shifty white guy that could both shoot and pass, while effectively running the pick-n-roll with Malone. The Jazz had lost to the Bulls in the 1997 Finals, the difference in 1998 was that Utah would have home court advantage, on top of that in game six, the Jazz would have another helping hand, or so that it would appear. Jordan was found hours before tipoff in his hotel room curled up in the fetal position, sweating profusely. Jordan had seemly come down with the flu and presumably most thought he wouldn’t played when the news broke and even most close to Jordan thought he wouldn’t played. As history books write, a sick Jordan would go on to lead an injury-stricken Chicago Bulls over the strategic Utah Jazz for the second year in a row, exemplifying Jordans greatness over the game of basketball with a 6th NBA title.

In my opinion, Jordan’s Moment is a well-written and very descriptive article by David Halberstam. First, this is written from the perspective of a Jordan fan during a time with no basketball (lockout) and Halberstam uses sensory details, character descriptions, quotes and numerous ethos, pathos, and logos appeals to convey his message of missing Jordan’s greatness.

Halberstam uses quotes from several people around Jordan to describe his character, ““He wants to cut your heart out and then show it to you,” his former coach Doug Collins said. “He’s Hannibal Lecter,” Bob Ryan, the Boston Globes expert basketball writer, said. When a television reporter asked the Bulls’ center, Luc Longley, for a one-word description of Jordan, Longley’s response was “Predator.” Halberstam also does this to describe Jordan well-being in the hours leading up to game six of the 1998 finals when referencing James Worthy, Marv Albert and Chip Schaefer. By referencing these other people that are close to Jordan and getting their actual takes on the events of Jordans “Flu game”, it appeals to ethos and is extremely credible.

Halberstam use of personal testimony of those affiliated with Jordan is also a logical and emotional appeal and consent theme throughout the article. It is effective, especially when talking about a sport iconic like Michael Jordan. He considered, not just the greatest basketball player of all-time but also one of the greatest athletes to ever walk this earth, accompanied by a personality the world had never seen. So Jordan was playing in the NBA he was looked at and talked about as a “God” in many ways, he was considered “super human” and Halberstam’s quotes reflect that.

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Examining cultural, social, political, racial, and economic issues through sports writing. Works composed by WRD 284 students at DePaul University.

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Henri Bresson

Henri Bresson

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