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90s Bulls announcer got fired for showing respect to Michael Jordan when he returned as a Wizard

Ray Clay, the Chicago Bulls announcer responsible for the iconic Michael Jordan introduction, lost his job because he wanted to pay tribute to MJ.
Bulls announcer Ray Clay and Washington Wizards guard Michael Jordan

The pettiness of the Chicago Bulls towards Michael Jordan after he left the team to retire and unretire to play for the Washington Wizards reached an all-time high when the Bulls’ game announcer was fired because he wanted to introduce MJ as he always did.

Ray Clay: 90s Chicago Bulls announcer

Ray Clay was a director of the college recreation program at the University of Illinois at Chicago for 29 years. However, he’s more recognized as the Chicago Bulls game announcer from the 90s. 

He served as their announcer for 12 seasons and was there for all six titles the Bulls won in the Michael Jordan era. Clay was the brain and voice behind the iconic MJ introduction, including his trademarks “Aaaaand now… the starting line-up… for your… Chicago Bulls!” and “Froooom North Carolina… at guard… 6ft 6in… Michael Jordan.”

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Clay was part of that Bulls dynasty, working on the sidelines. The work of announcers is important as it sets the mood among players and gets the crowd hyped, but things changed between the Chicago Bulls and Ray Clay when Mike unretired to play for the Washington Wizards.

Chicago Bulls' pettiness at an all-time high

When MJ retired and came back as a Wizard, many wondered how he would be welcomed back to the United Center, his previous home. Ray Clay was asked how he would welcome back the city’s former hero as the game announcer.

At that time, Clay wasn’t sure how but revealed he’d probably address MJ the way he introduced him when he was still part of the team.

“A print media journalist asked me how I planned on introducing Michael Jordan when he came back to the United Center. I was honest when I said nobody from the organization had talked to me and told me how they would like me to introduce him. I said my feeling would be that everybody in the building wants to hear Michael Jordan introduced as I've introduced him many times before with the full Michael Jordan introduction.”

Ray Clay, SportsCenter

However, Clay claimed he was fired in 2002 partly because of the Michael Jordan introduction. At the end of the season, management decided not to renew him as they were going in a different direction, but Ray insisted he was fired for trying to introduce MJ the same way he did when His Airness was still part of the Bulls.

Even though things did not end well between the Bulls and Ray Clay, his legacy and contributions are already cemented in the annals of the franchise's history. Without his iconic MJ introduction, it would have been a different experience and story for millions of basketball fans. 

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