Feb. 17 is the birthday of the Chicago Bulls best player in franchise history, Michael Jordan. Let’s take a look back at one of his most underrated moments.
It is the 57th birthday of the best player in NBA history, former Chicago Bulls legendary shooting guard Michael Jordan. There are many ways to commemorate the birthday of MJ on Feb. 17, but appreciating the current Bulls team at hand is not the best idea. Looking back on the best days of MJ and a good set of events during NBA All-Star Weekend, which was hosted at the United Center in Chicago, is the best way to commemorate his birthday.
However, there is one particular memory that was highlighted for MJ on his birthday by ESPN’s High Noon on Feb. 17 (hosted by Bomani Jones and Pablo Torre) that was great. Just a year after his second retirement from the Bulls, MJ took on their first round pick from the 1998 NBA Draft, guard Corey Benjamin.
MJ took on Benjamin one-on-one in 1999, and the legendary shooting guard absolutely burned him.
An old report from Skip Bayless when he was with the Chicago Tribune showed that Benjamin sent an “ill-advised” challenge MJ’s way and got roasted because of it.
Here’s what that piece from Bayless displayed about the challenge of Benjamin against the recently retired (at that time) Jordan.
Jordan grinned and grimaced as I approached. Busted. “Oh, man, I knew we might see you here sooner or later,” he said, shaking his head. Or was it that Michael wanted to be seen? It wasn’t as if he and Grover had slipped in after hours.
“So,” I kidded, “you’re trying to get in shape for another big one-on-one game with Corey Benjamin?”
“Please,” he said, rolling his eyes, “I don’t have to do nothin’ to get ready for Corey Benjamin.”
Jordan, of course, stopped the presses on Nov. 10 when he dropped by Bulls practice to take up Benjamin on an ill-advised challenge. Benjamin and his game could have used some Michael Jordan cologne after Jordan got through with him. So now No. 23 is getting ready for some real basketball?
No, no, he protested, he’s just trying to lose “some of this fat”–what fat?–and win a bet with his wife. “She says I can’t get up to 235, cut,” Jordan said, meaning add 15 to 20 pounds of muscle. He’s so obsessed with winning the bet, he claimed, that “it’s killing my golf. I haven’t even played.”
A lot of the plays shown in the video of MJ against Benjamin highlighted the vintage moves that made him so famous and hard to guard in the first place. MJ hit turnaround after stepback after layup while crossing Benjamin up numerous times.
What caused this game in the first place between MJ and Benjamin was a bad challenge with a teammate. Apparently Benjamin told a teammate of his, Randy Brown, that he could challenge MJ. Soon after, MJ showed up to a Bulls practice after he retired and dismantled Benjamin.
Benjamin obviously didn’t come close to beating MJ in this throwback 1999 1 v. 1 affair. This was a mistake that a player that didn’t last long in the NBA and wound up taking his career overseas less than four full seasons into his career once is time with the Oregon State Beavers was over.
In his four year NBA career, Benjamin averaged 5.5 points per game, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.9 assists, while shooting 39.0 percent from the field and 28.9 percent from beyond the arc. The simple fact of the matter is that Benjamin was never on the same planet as Jordan, even after the great one retired for the second time.
MJ had more total points, assists, rebounds, steals, and blocks in the first half of his rookie season than Benjamin did over the course of his entire four year career in the NBA with the Bulls and Atlanta Hawks.