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How Doug Christie's defensive performance earned him Michael Jordan's autograph

The Toronto Raptors surprised everyone after inflicting a loss on the famed 72-10 Chicago Bulls in 1996. Doug Christie earned Michael Jordan's respect in the process.
Toronto Raptors' guard Doug Christi and Chicago Bulls' legend Michael Jordan

Doug Christie, Michael Jordan

Doug Christie was one of the toughest lockdown defenders of his time. He had the opportunity to test himself against Michael Jordan and came away with unexpected results.

Beating the 72-10 Bulls

In 1996, the Chicago Bulls were almost invincible. The team would go on to win 72 games in the regular season; a feat considered the most impressive record today because the 73-9 Golden State Warriors lost in the 2016 NBA finals. Michael Jordan and his teammates were on a mission. 

The Toronto Raptors, on the other hand, were an expansion team at that time and had no business defeating the Bulls. But Doug Christie and his teammates had other things in mind.

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The Bulls had a chance to win it with 26.4 seconds in regulation. MJ had the ball in his hands and tried to force a drive, but Christie stayed with him, resulting in an awkward-looking shot that had no business falling in. Oliver Miller then split his free throws to make it a one-possession ball game. With the game on the line, Jordan decided to go for the last shot. Uncharacteristically, he fumbled due to the Raptors' switching defense. Mike had sunk what could have been the game-winner after a Steve Kerr miss, but it was too late. Toronto won and celebrated like champions.

Doug Christie, who had a great ga defending Jordan, who still scored 36 points, knew he had to ask for the Chicago Bulls legend’s autograph for his 2-year-old daughter. Not knowing if Mike would grant his request, he still decided to try. And to his surprise, MJ obliged. For Doug, it was proof that Jordan recognized his hard work and defense on the floor.

“I was thinking, ‘Oh man, we just beat the hell out of each other, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to (ask for the autograph). I did. He was just so gracious. For me, to be able to compete as hard as we did and be as physical as we are, and then for him to lose and be like, ‘Hey, no problem,’ (and) sign an autograph. It validated (my play) even more,” Christie said via The Athletic.

MJ and Christie head-to-head

Jordan holds a 9-5 win-loss record over Christie in their career. Mike averaged 22.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 4.6 assists in that span. MJ still did MJ things, but he was made to sweat by the 6’6” defender.

Christie may not have won a championship in his career because his best chance with the Sacramento Kings ended in the hands of MJ protege Kobe Bryant. But despite that, Doug remains grateful that MJ gave his daughter an autograph.

Christie earned Jordan’s respect the way he earned other star players’ respect: through hard work, tenacity, and good defense. 

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