In honor of the conclusion of the documentary, “The Last Dance,” I have one additional Michael Jordan anecdote. My 12-year career in the NBA included a two-year stop with the Miami Heat, the first two years the organization was in the league. And as an expansion team for the 1988-89 season, we were legitimately bad, losing our first 17 games as a franchise. Our first win was a road win against the Los Angeles Clippers 89-88 in front of a crowd of 7,703, which probably matched the number of viewers during the broadcast of the game back to Miami. To celebrate our first victory as an NBA franchise, we sent a videotape of the game to all of our season ticket holders, which probably dates this story. Somewhere I still have a copy of the video, but not a machine to play it on.
The City of Miami has star power, at least in part because Florida does not have a state income tax, which draws entertainers and athletes to the region. The area is the off-season home to many of the best golfers in the world, including four-time Majors winner Raymond Floyd, who was a charter season ticket holder of the Miami Heat. Another local legend and sports fan Jimmy Buffet owned six front row seats in the end zone and was often in attendance. During my tenure with the Heat, I was the team’s public address announcer, and Ray Floyd’s four seats were directly behind where I sat, close enough that I could reach back and touch him.
Jordan and the Bulls came to town Feb. 13, 1990, which meant a sellout for the Heat and a routine 107-95 win for the Bulls. Jordan played 40 minutes in the game and at one point in the second half he was about to check back into the game, kneeling in front of me on the sideline, and carrying on a conversation with Ray Floyd. It turns out they had played 36 holes of golf that morning and most of their brief conversation was about what had transpired on the golf course. At the time, the perception was Jordan was good, a good enough golfer to play on the PGA Tour.
After Jordan checked into the game, I turned around to Floyd and asked him, “Is he good enough to play golf professionally?” Floyd almost imperceptibly shook his head and mouthed the word, ‘No.’
I have written in this space before that if I were starting a pro basketball team from the ground up, that I would build it around Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the most dominant player on both ends of the floor I have ever seen. If charisma and magnetism are factors in the decision, then Jordan would be No. 1.