A pissed off 38-year old Michael Jordan had a lot to say about his two-handed/smack-the-glass block on Ron Mercer’s layup in the final seconds of a 2002 victory against his former team. “The Block” caused the Wizards bench to fall to the floor and 90’s Bulls’ fans watching the game on their home TV to jump as high as Jordan. Mercer got up and ran back on defense as a strutting Jordan stared him down and yelled at Mercer as he went by.
Despite 13 free throw attempts, Jordan was complaining to the refs all night about a lack of calls. He was also getting frustrated with the physical defense of Ron Artest. So after Artest blocked one of his shots, Jordan’s anger took over. And we have all heard countless stories, from Reggie Miller to Kendall Gill to Jayson Williams and other NBA players, about why it’s a bad idea to make “MJ” mad.
This was his first game against his former team, he was coming off of back-to-back great performances — 51 points and 7 rebounds vs the Hornets and 45 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists vs the Nets — and with Bulls GM Jerry Krause in attendance, you can bet Jordan was hyped up and wanting to continue his hot streak.
The Wizards started strong and had a 32-18 lead after the first quarter. Then Jordan caught fire in the 2nd, scoring 19 of his team’s 25 points and giving them a 20-point lead at the half. The Bulls traded buckets with the Wizards in the 3rd and took over in the 4th, bringing them to six points when Ron Mercer went up for a layup to cut the lead to four, but as you know, Mercer didn’t make the layup.
“I don’t know where he came from,” Collins said of The Block. “It looked like he was out, and then all of a sudden he was taking the ball with two hands at the basket.”
“It was one of those situations where anger kind of gave me a little more energy to go up and get the block,” Jordan said.
The Wizards went on to win 89-83. Jordan’s final line was 29 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks while giving a huge reminder that he was still the GOAT.