In retrospect, January 1999 – a month before my thirteenth birthday – was roughly around the time my childhood ended. The reason being because my uncle passed away on January 2 and Michael Jordan retired from basketball 11 days later. Obviously, I’m not dumb enough to compare Jordan’s retirement with something as traumatic as a family member dying, but in several ways, both Mike and my uncle were personal ’90s icons.
Speaking of Jordan’s retirement, he made the announcement 15 years ago today and nearly seven months to the day he took his final shot as a member of the Bulls in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals. The two ironic tidbits from His Airness’ exit speech were his admission he was “99.9%” sure he had played his last moments in the NBA and the fact it came literally a week before the 1998-99 lockout ended.
As was the case with everything Michael-related throughout his career, the news impacted nearly every sector of pop culture. This MTV News clip represents a blast from the past with random Knicks fans letting their guard down for a moment to pay homage to the guy who poetically emasculated them on countless occasions. Aaliyah and Silkk The Shocker (who sounds like Boomhauer from King Of The Hill) briefly and figuratively tip their cap. The two admit while coming to grips with Jordan retiring was rough from a selfish fan standpoint, they more than respected the decision to do so.
And with Aaliyah’s death coming two-and-a-half years later coupled with where we are now, realizing the ways of how much just basketball has changed in the 5,480 days since 1-13-99 is astonishing. The Bobcats were still the Hornets. Kobe Bryant was 20-years-old entering his third season. LeBron James was in the eighth grade. Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose and Stephen Curry were all 10. Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins were both three.
If you don’t feel old yet, that means I didn’t do my job.