“Michael Jordan, that’s the first person that I felt that could fly… I played against an animal in Shaq”

Between the mid-1990s to the early 2000s, basketball fans had Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan to cheer on. These four are consistently ranked in the top 10 of the NBA’s greatest players ever.

Andre Miller, who played part of his career in this era, has nothing but appreciation and fond memories of that time. On “The Knuckleheads,” Miller shared his thoughts on what it meant to play in that period:

“For me man, you got the chance to play against Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan, that’s the first person that I felt that could fly. I saw Michael Jordan fly. I played against Kobe. I played against an animal in Shaq. Shaq ain’t real. He was an animal!”


From 1995 to 2002, Jordan won the NBA title three times, O’Neal and Bryant had a three-peat and Duncan bagged it once. “His Airness” retired in 2003 just before LeBron James entered the NBA out of high school as the “Chosen One.”

On this day in 1998: MJ nailed a 20-foot jumper to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead with 5.2 seconds left in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals. That shot ended up being the game-winner to give the Bulls their 6th championship and second three-peat!👀⬇️ https://t.co/lnQdcZY1rI

Shaq, Kobe and Duncan continued to dominate the league until “King James” won his first title with the Miami Heat in 2012.

Miller, who played for nine teams from 1999-2016, caught Jordan’s last two seasons with the Washington Wizards. He then spent the rest of his career facing the other greats. Although many felt like his career deserved an All-Star selection, Miller would have none of it.

Friendly reminder the Wizards were on pace to win 50 games (2 seed) before Michael Jordan’s injury in 2002. They were 19-63 in 2001. https://t.co/hT15qrgkLF

He is just grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to play against the best basketball players, saying:

“It was like the NBA was a whole bunch of guys that was heroes and characters, cartoon characters or something who have special powers to me. So, I don’t worry about making no All-Star team. I got a chance to hoop against the best, the greats of the game.”

NBA history could have been different had Michael Jordan not retired after “The Last Dance”

The 1998 Chicago Bulls team would have still been the favorites to win the title the following year if they didn't break up [Photo: Fox Sports]
The 1998 Chicago Bulls team would have still been the favorites to win the title the following year if they didn’t break up [Photo: Fox Sports]

Had the late Chicago Bulls general manager Jerry Krause and legendary coach Phil Jackson not been sick of each other, NBA history could have been different. The late ’90s Bulls had an aging squad but would still have been a tough out for anyone.

In the last episode of “The Last Dance,” Michael Jordan said this about the breakup and what could have been:

“It’s maddening, because I felt like we could have won seven. I really believed that. We may not have, but, man, just to not be able to try, that’s something that I just can’t accept for whatever reason. I just can’t accept it.”

So basically Chicago ownership broke up the Bulls after 6. “I feel like we could’ve won 7,” Jordan said.

The lockout-shortened season in 1998-99 would have given those old Bulls legs just the break they needed to go for No. 7. Instead, it was the San Antonio Spurs’ Twin Towers of Tim Duncan and David Robinson who won the championship. It was San Antonio’s first of five in the Duncan era.

Do I think Bulls win in 1999? No. They are one year older & if they make Finals, the Spurs just have too much size up front with Tim Duncan & David Robinson, and lack of size was always their weakness. But they damn sure deserve the shot.

Jordan returned to the NBA for the second time for the Washington Wizards in 2001-02. He was no longer aiming for another title, only trying “to scratch an itch that wouldn’t go away.”

Edited by Joseph Schiefelbein

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