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Original Issue

MJ Memories

After the 1991 Finals he hugged the trophy and wept, and during Game 1 of the '92 Finals he offered a casual shrug after the last of his six first-half three-pointers. There is no iconic Finals image from '93, however, unless it is the smiling face of the Jester, Charles Barkley, who had beaten out Jordan for MVP honors and dueled his Olympic buddy righteously in a scintillating six-game series. Still, the 1993 playoffs represented His Airness at the absolute top of his game. Exhausted by the burdens of fame, hounded by rumors of gambling and facing an 0--2 deficit to the Knicks in the Eastern finals, Jordan carried the Bulls past New York and then past Barkley's talented 62-win Suns in the most spectacular individual performance I've ever seen. In the fourth quarter of the 99--98 Game 6 title clincher, John Paxson's game-winning jumper was the only Chicago score that didn't come from the hand of Jordan. Three months later, shortly after his father, James, was murdered at age 56, MJ left the game.