REMEMBER REGGIE: Four blocks on Jordan

REMEMBER REGGIE: Four blocks on Jordan
July 16, 2013, 4:45 pm
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On July 28, Comcast SportsNet will look back -- with teammates, coaches and family -- at the basketball life of Reggie Lewis, 20 years after his passing. For more on Reggie, visit csnne.com for a new story each day this week. Remember Reggie is presented by your New England Ford Dealers.   

In a previous era, the details surrounding the night Reggie Lewis blocked four of Michael Jordan’s shots would have been long lost on exaggeration and hyperbole. “Oh yeah,” the story would go, “Jordan kept trying to throw it down on Reggie’s head, and he met him at the rim every time! You’ve never seen anything like it!”
 
It would have existed today, only in myth, which is cool but nowhere near as cool as the real thing.
 
But thankfully, Reggie and Michael both came around at a time when this night in NBA history could be captured on camera, and then recaptured in an ESPN special and then re-re-captured by a YouTube user named MerkinMuffin, in what has become the most important Internet footage of Reggie’s legacy.
 
March 31, 1991: The night he blocked four of Michael Jordan’s shots.
 
Just to quickly set the stage, in 1991, 28-year-old Jordan was still a few months away from winning his first NBA title, but was already established as the most unstoppable force in the league. He averaged 31.5 points a game that year on the way to his fifth of seven consecutive scoring titles. He’d recently appeared in his seventh of 14 All-Star games. It’s also important to note that, on the night in question, Jordan still scored 37 points (albeit on 12-36 shooting) with nine assists and seven rebounds.
 
Meanwhile, Lewis, 25, was in his first season as a full-time starter (averaging 18.7 points a game), a year away from his first and last All-Star selection, still playing in the shadow of the aging Big 3 but looking ever-ready to break out into the national spotlight.
 
This game certainly helped.
 
Block 1 (40-second mark on the video): Jordan dribbles to his left, into the paint, and then spins for one of his patented (and eventually unblockable) fade away jumpers. But Lewis is with him the whole way, and deflects to ball with his right hand. Larry Bird picks it up under the hoop and triggers a fast break.
 
Block 2 (47-second mark): Jordan crosses over Reggie at the top of the key and drives to his left again. Lewis is right with him again, with all his momentum following MJ to the hoop. But suddenly Jordan stops on a dime and lifts for a pull up jumper. Lewis hesitates for a split second, gathers himself, jumps, extends his left hand and stuffs Jordan at the point of release.
 
Block 3 (55-second mark): Jordan’s dribbling above the three-point line and tries to beat Lewis to the right — no dice. So he dribbles between his legs and gets a step on Reggie driving to the left. Jordan takes advantage of his inch of space and takes off a step inside the foul line, floats for a few feet (waiting for everyone else to come back to the ground) before releasing what should have been an automatic hoop. Except Reggie's still there, and at last moment swings his left arm around from behind and deflects the ball off the back of the rim. Robert Parish gets the rebound and triggers another fast break.
 
Block 4 (1:04 mark): This play actually starts with Larry Bird blocking Scottie Pippen, which is probably worthy of its own column. But for the sake of this story, Bird's block is deflected into the hands of Jordan, who catches the ball at the foul line, takes one dribble and goes up for the jumper. Reggie blocks it with his right hand, turns around and controls the loose ball for another Celtics stop.
 
The Celtics won the game in double overtime, 135-132.
 
And Reggie’s legacy continued to grow.