Michael Jordan's incredible scoring circus has been closed down for the season, but not before he single-handedly pumped more excitement into a playoff series than anyone had a right to expect. On the surface, the National Basketball Association's first-round match-up between the lowly Chicago Bulls (30-52 during the regular season) and the far-superior Boston Celtics promised nothing special, at least not from the Bulls. In fact, Chicago did succumb in three straight games.
Jordan, however, put on a show, a ``really big shew,'' as Ed Sullivan would have called it.
Figuring they had to adopt a radical strategy, the Bulls basically said, ``Here's the ball, Michael, do your thing.'' And, boy, did he, scoring 49 points in the first game, including 30 in the first half; an amazing 63, breaking Elgin Baylor's 24-year-old playoff record in the second; and a more down-to-earth 19 when the series shifted to Chicago for Game 3, a contest he exited early with six fouls.
The only close game was the second one, which went to two overtimes before the Celtics prevailed, 135-131. Jordan forced the first OT by canning a pair of pressure-packed free throws after time had expired in regulation.
Where he was most sensational, however, was in isolation against various Celtic defenders. Since NBA rules dictate the use of man-to-man defenses, Chicago created ``clearouts,'' giving Jordan room to operate with pullup jump shots and spectacular drives to the basket. By Game 3, the Celtics were double-teaming him and cutting off his driving lanes, spelling ``good night'' for the Bulls.
But it was fun while it lasted, a real turn-on even to Boston fans, who figured they'd seen everything watching Larry Bird the last seven years. Jordan, a 6 ft. 6 in. guard, had missed 20 weeks of the season with a foot injury and returned to the lineup in mid-March against the advice of his agent and the team's management. Louganis's blooper The expression ``it happens to the best of them'' couldn't have been more true than it was last weekend in the United States indoor diving championships, where the sport's top athlete actually scored a zero on one dive. Fortunately for three-time world champion Greg Louganis, the blunder occurred in the preliminary round at Indianapolis and didn't carry over to the 3-meter springboard finals, which he won. Louganis also benefited from a rule change that increased the number of divers in this year's final from eight to 12. He recovered from his missed dive to finish 11th in the preliminaries.
Louganis, the reigning Olympic champion in both the 3-meter and platform events, is normally the essence of grace and control. But as he began his takeoff on a forward 3 pike dive, his knees buckled, causing a rather comical-looking plunge into the pool.
Though he avoided a belly flop, the attempt was a total washout. But since it came on the seventh of 11 preliminary dives, Greg had a chance to nail a couple of subsequent dives, including one that brought three ``10s,'' and qualify for the finals.
Asked afterward when he last laid a goose egg in competition, Louganis, now 26, said it occurred when he was 9 or 10 years old.
Considering the way divers often have to position themselves, with only their toes on the board or platform, it's amazing they don't fall into the drink more often. Perhaps in a round of 11 dives, the one receiving the lowest score should just be thrown out, a precaution against the major setback a ``0'' dive presents. Touching other bases
The Chicago Bears end their season tonight -- their basketball season. Like many pro football teams, the Bears organize a hoop squad to play in charitable games in the community. The appearances are good for club PR, and they also give players a chance to stay in shape during the off-season.
The Bears' squad is completing a 16-game season against high school faculty contingents. The New England Patriots, who were crushed by Chicago in the Super Bowl, have been a lot more ambitious on the court the past several months, playing a 53-game basketball schedule!
The most embarrassing moment in Monday's Boston Marathon occurred when a local TV reporter, following the women's race en route, commented that two-time champion Joan Benoit Samuelson and other top women were nowhere to be seen behind leader Ingrid Kristiansen. In Samuelson's case the reason was obvious when the cameras switched back to the studio, where the former winner, a non-entrant this year, was serving as one of the station's expert analysts.