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Columnist
10 Jordan memories that still stay with me
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 4/6/2009 5:13 PM

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Memories flashed Monday after word arrived that Michael Jordan was elected to basketball's Hall of Fame.

These are my favorite 10:

• The day Jordan declared for the NBA draft in 1984, I phoned then-Bulls general manager Rod Thorn.

Even though no one could predict Jordan would be there for the Bulls at the third overall pick, Thorn and I concluded that his availability changed everything.

Did that turn out true, or what?

• Veteran center Caldwell Jones, who played with Julius Erving with the 76ers, was a Bull during Jordan's rookie year.

I asked him to compare Air Jordan and Dr. J. He essentially said both could jump high enough to touch the sky, but Jordan could do more things with the ball while up there.

• A friend of mine in Dallas was amazed that early in Jordan's rookie season, a TV sports anchor down there already was picking a nightly Airness highlight to wow viewers with.

• Before home games during Jordan's first few years here, he would sit at his locker and talk with reporters as casually as you and I are talking right now.

• I watched Jordan on the first hole at Butler National, where the Western Open was to be played that week. His tee shot sailed far left and into deep trouble.

He recovered to make par - heck, maybe it was even birdie. Jordan wasn't as good a golfer as he thought, but he wasn't bad.

• In a Philadelphia hotel lobby during the early '90s, a crowd gathered for autographs from legendary singer Tony Bennett.

Then an elevator door opened, Jordan emerged and Bennett suddenly was alone. The group moved as one to surround His Airness.

• Before a playoff game, also in Philly, a referee came into the pressroom to fetch a poster he had a writer have Jordan autograph for him.

• In early 1993, a retired Magic Johnson held a news conference in the basement of the old Chicago Stadium. He flashed that big smile of his despite having been diagnosed as HIV-positive a couple years earlier.

Another news conference followed featuring Jordan, who appeared to be the world's saddest human being.

The weight of being Michael Jordan clearly weighed on him. He retired a couple months later, presumably to get away from being him.

• Former basketball executive Pat Williams phoned around for anecdotes for a Jordan book he was writing. I gave him this from 1994:

At 7 a.m. in Sarasota, Fla., Jordan was in the batting cage taking swing after swing in a futile attempt to make it in baseball.

I told Williams there were no circuses surrounding Jordan at 7 a.m., only his work ethic and competitiveness.

• On a flight back from an NCAA Tournament game in Albany, N.Y., a writer sitting in the seat in front of me turned to say he just heard that Jordan was un-retiring. It was on to Indianapolis for his second Bulls' debut the next day.

• Perhaps Jordan's most remarkable feat was remaining a Teflon man despite persistent rumors of gambling and marital infidelity.

So that's my 10, all from before the second three-peat. Ask 100 people and you'd probably get 100 different lists of favorite Jordan memories,

There certainly are enough to go around.

mimrem@dailyherald.com