Game on: When Jordan flew without wings

Published: June 8, 2012

Jordan took off from his mark, flew 15 feet in length and slammed the ball into the net 10 feet off the ground. PHOTO: REUTERS

We’ve all heard of Icarus, the man who tried to fly; he flew too high and came crashing down. This story is probably the worst I’ve ever heard. It would have taught me to not believe; that we shouldn’t push ourselves hard enough and shouldn’t dream of doing the ‘impossible’.

Luckily, early in my life, I also encountered another story.

A true story – one that took my breath away.

This was the modern Icarus and he did not crash.

I became interested in basketball at a very young age and fell in love with it after watching the premium basketball league called the NBA. It was while watching the annual NBA dunking contest that I felt inspired for life.

Two men were going head to head, each upping the other with spectacular aerobic dunking that was driving the crowd wild. With both tied closely on points, one of them decided it was time to up the game and, well, fly.

He marked his spot–15 feet away from the basket, as I sat wondering what he was doing. He strolled to the other side of the court to gain a big run up, turned around, paused and then started the run to his goal.

I was still unsure about what this man was planning to do.

While I, unfortunately, did not get to watch this live, I’m sure for everyone in the audience, time must have stood still as it did for me while I sat glued to my television screen. A part of me was incredulous, stunned, at the prospect of him even trying to attempt think dunk.

He was so close to winning, why did he want to risk this?, I thought.

Yet he did.

This man took off from his mark, flew for 15 feet in length and slammed the ball into the net that stood at ten feet off the ground and followed it with a casual landing – as if it was something we humans could do as easily.

My jaw hit the floor.

The crowd was shocked for a second before erupting into a loud acknowledgement of one of the greatest feats ever achieved by anyone. I was smiling from ear to ear, my young mind not understanding the impact this would have on my own life. I felt great and I cheered. I continued to cheer and shout as he was awarded points – a perfect 50.

We knew he had won!

When I look back at it now, I know that for that brief moment in time, this man flew. In that small amount of time, he defied gravity and majestically hung in the air.

Whenever I watch replays in slow motion I notice how he seems to go higher on his trajectory and almost kicks himself up a notch to get to the rim. I’ve never seen a sporting moment as great as this; when a man decided to take on the elements so gracefully and so dismissively.

And every time I watch it, I tell myself that we can do anything we want. Nothing is impossible.

His Airness, Michael Jordan taught us that.

Read more by Salman here or follow him on Twitter @salmanzq

Game On is a feature that recaps amazing moments in sporting history. To write about your favourite sports moment, send us a YouTube link with a write-up to [email protected]



Salman Qureshi

A Masters graduate in International Business from the University of Wollongong Dubai. He is a standup and Improv comedian based in Dubai with an intense interest in reviving and supporting arts in Pakistan. He blogs at:

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • asim

    Nice tribute to his airness. Was great to relive that moment again. Thanks salman for a good write up. I’m going to go put on my old sneakers and play some b ballRecommend

  • Ralf

    Wondeful blog.

    P.S : Dr.J had already done that dunk before MJ.Recommend

  • Awais

    I grew up in London, England where it is always football, but one day when I was 6 my mother bought Space Jam for me to watch. Nothing beats R.Kelly – I Believe I Can Fly after watching Michael Jordan defy gravity throughout the movie.Recommend

  • littlegiant

    MJ was a true champion – a true winner who would defy gravity, defy his ilness, defy double-teams at the ends of games and pull out a game-turning or winning shot. During one of the critical games against Seattle in the finals, michael was running a high fever and performed poorly throughout the game. But when push came to the shove, no matter who guarded him or how many person’s defended against him, Michael came through with an incredible shot, a great assist, or a great steel. No wonder it seemed like all of America wanted ‘to be like mike’ in the 90’s.Recommend

  • Bruce Banner

    Michael Jordan was probably the greatest player ever, LeBron and Kobe are nowhere near his airness.Recommend

  • Raheel

    great man. now Im missing being back in the US. NBA finals going on and I’m stuck here in a different timezone/Recommend

  • yasmin

    This man always inspired me. Nice write up.Recommend