If you are a basketball fan and over 18 years old, you remember this shot. It doesn't matter what team you root for or where you are from. And even if for some reason you don't, you've more than likely come across this iconic image at some point, either on a commercial, billboard, magazine cover, pin-up, or Sportscenter highlight reel. Growing up in the suburbs of New York, shooting hoops with friends after school, I remember pretending to take and make this very same shot everyday, holding my follow-through the same way Jordan did (see below). I can still hear the Chicago Bulls announcer Neil Funk making the call as the play unfolds: "Malone...stripped by Michael, to the floor, stolen by MJ! Michael the steal! 16 seconds left, Bulls down one...Michael against Russell, 12 seconds...11...10. Jordan, Jordan, a drive, hangs...fires...SCORES! HE SCORES! The Bulls lead 87-86 with five and two-tenths left, and now they're one stop away! Oh my goodness...oh, my goodness!"
However, the point of this post was not to wax poetic about Michael Jordan's memorable game-winning shot in game 6 of the NBA Finals (which turned out to be the last shot of his Bulls career), nor to reminisce about my childhood, but simply to appreciate the image for its sheer power and beauty. The photograph, taken by longtime Orlando Magic team photographer, Fernando Medina, has been recognized by Sports Illustrated as the number one sports photo in its 100 Greatest Sports Photos of All Time.
Of the award, Medina said this: "I am honored and very humbled by this recognition. To me, it represents what this country is all about. Who could foresee that a poor refugee from Cuba would end up with the opportunity of photographing Michael Jordan taking his last shot as a Bull to win the 1998 NBA Finals, and make good on that opportunity! Amazing. To think of all the great photographers and their great photographs through time and history, I find it hard to believe that God blessed me with the image chosen as Sports Illustrated‘s favorite, so far. Thank you very much to those at SI who liked my work enough to bestow it with such an incredible honor.”
Here at NYIP, we are always looking to share inspirational stories with our students.
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