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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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SI.com's college basketball experts analyze each region of the 2010 NCAA tournament and handicap each No. 1 seed's chances of making it to the Final Four in Indianapolis
WILD WILD WEST
by Luke Winn
If a bum quad sidelines forward Arinze Onuaku, Syracuse's success will fall on the shoulders of Big East player of the year Wesley Johnson (4)
by Andy Staples
Jon Scheyer and the Blue Devils hope talent and a good draw can get them to the Final Four for the first time since 2004
by Andy Glockner
Top-ranked Kansas, led by Sherron Collins, is a dominant, balanced, experienced team that will be difficult to derail before Indianapolis
BEASTS IN THE EAST
by Stewart Mandel
John Wall & Co. will have to continue to play beyond their years after going 14--2 on the road and 8--1 in games decided by six or fewer points
Online Cover Gallery
On the eve of his third and final year in Chapel Hill, Jordan and North Carolina teammate Sam Perkins headlined SI's College Basketball Preview.
In his seventh NBA season, Jordan and the Bulls beat the Lakers in five games to win the first of their six NBA championships together.
In his 15th, and last, season, Jordan graced his record 49th, and last, SI cover. Three years earlier he'd come out of retirement to be an owner-player for the Wizards.
Hanley Ramirez Fantasy Baseball
Kelly Slater Pictures of the Week
Charles Barkely Rare Photos
Photograph by JOHN W. MCDONOUGH
A LITTLE HELP? Despite Jordan's best efforts, his Bulls won three fewer games in 1988--89 than they had the season before.
AL TIELEMANS (JOHNSON)
JOHN W. MCDONOUGH (COLLINS)
MANNY MILLAN (BARKLEY)
BOB ROSATO (RAMIREZ)
CAMERON SPENCER/GETTY IMAGES (SLATER)
LOU CAPOZZOLA (SCHEYER, WALL)