Sept. 13, 1996 - Charlie O’Brien is the first catcher to wear a hockey goalie-like catcher’s mask

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Over the course of his career, Charlie O’Brien had the distinction of catching eleven different Cy Young winners: Frank Viola (Mets), Dwight Gooden (Mets), Bret Saberhagen (Mets), David Cone (Mets), Greg Maddux (Braves), Tom Glavine (Braves), John Smoltz (Braves), Pat Hentgen (Blue Jays), Roger Clemens (Blue Jays), Chris Carpenter (Blue Jays) and Jack McDowell (White Sox). However, he only caught three of these pitchers during Cy Young seasons — Clemens, Hentgen and Maddux (2x’s). During Maddux’s amazing ‘94 and ‘95 seasons when he posted ERA’s of 1.56 and 1.63 respectively, O’Brien generally served as Maddux’s personal catcher.

In his 15-year career, O’Brien batted .221 with 56 home runs and 261 runs batted in. He was part of the 1995 World Series Champion Atlanta Braves.

Apr. 21, 1996 - Chicago Bulls end the season with NBA record 72-10

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The only team in NBA history to win 70 games or more in a single season.

With a lineup of Ron Harper, Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Luke Longley, and perhaps the league’s best bench in Steve Kerr, Toni Kukoc, Bill Wennington, Jud Buechler, and guard Randy Brown the Bulls posted one of the best single-season improvements in league history and the best single-season record, moving from 47–35 to 72–10, which remains the best record in NBA history. Jordan won his eighth scoring title, and Rodman his fifth straight rebounding title, while Kerr finished second in the league in three-point shooting percentage. Jordan garnered the elusive triple crown with the regular season MVP, All-star Game MVP, and Finals MVP. Krause was named Executive of the Year, Jackson Coach of the Year, and Kukoc the Sixth Man of the Year. Both Pippen and Jordan made the All-NBA First Team, and Jordan, Pippen, and Rodman made the All-Defensive First Team, making the Bulls the only team in history with three players on the All-Defensive First Team.

In addition, the 1995–96 squad holds several other records, including the best road record in a standard 41-road-game season (33–8), the all-time best start by a team (41–3), the longest home winning streak (44 games, 7 from previous season), and the best start at home (37–0). The Bulls also posted the second-best home record in history (39–2), behind only the 1985–86 Celtics 40–1 home mark, and the second-best point differential in history, trailing the 1972 Lakers by 3 points over the course of an entire season. The team triumphed over Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp and the Seattle SuperSonics for their fourth title. The 1995–96 Chicago Bulls are widely regarded as one of the greatest teams in the history of basketball.

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Jan. 10, 1996 - Dolphins announced Jimmy Johnson as new head coach

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Johnson replaced legendary Dolphins coach Don Shula, who’s tenure lasted 26 years with the Miami organization.

Before accepting the job with the Dolphins, Johnson led the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 1992 and 1993. Despite all of his accomplishment’s with the Cowboys, Johnson and team owner Jerry Jones did not see eye to eye on many things, which ultimately led to coach Johnson’s departure. Jimmy Johnson also enjoyed success at the collegiate level, coaching the Miami Hurricanes to the 1987 NCAA Division I National Championship. However, Johnson would not share similar success with the Dolphins, as he went 36-28 in the regular season and just 2-3 in the playoffs during his four-year stay in Miami.

- via totalprosports.com

Dec. 22, 1996 - Karl Malone became the 11th player to get 20,000 career points and 10,000 career rebounds

During the 1996-97 season, Malone put up a resurgent 27.4 points per game while leading the Jazz to a 64–18 record, the most regular season wins in team history. Malone won his first NBA Most Valuable Player award, and the Jazz were the top team in the Western Conference and the playoff champions in that conference. After sweeping the Los Angeles Clippers and defeating the Los Angeles Lakers, the Jazz took on the Houston Rockets, led by the aging trio of Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and Clyde Drexler. The Jazz beat them in six games (the last victory coming on a last-second shot by Stockton). Malone finally got to the Finals in 1997, where they played the Jordan-led Chicago Bulls. In a matchup of the two previous MVPs, the Bulls took the first two games at the United Center. Malone struggled from the field, going 6 of 20 for 20 points in Game Two. However the Jazz won the next two games at the Delta Center behind Malone’s 37 points in Game 3 and 23 in Game 4, including a game-winning fastbreak lay-up off a spectacular assist by Stockton in the last minute. The Bulls took the next two games and the series, with Malone struggling from the foul line in the pivotal Game 6.

July 19, 1996 - Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Ali was also given a replacement gold medal for his boxing victory at the 1960 Summer Olympics. Ali had supposedly thrown his previous gold medal into the Ohio River after being refused entry into a restaurant. The United States would dominate the medal count, winning 44 gold medals (Russia was second with 26) and 101 total medals, beating second place Germany who finished with 65. However, it was the Canadians who stole the show in the two biggest events of the Olympics.

Ali - 1996 Olympics

The men’s 100-meter race, which is widely considered the main event at any Summer Olympics, was won by Donovan Bailey in a world record time of 9.84 seconds. Bailey would also lead Canada to gold in the men’s 4 x 100 meter relay.

June 27, 1996: Kobe Bryant receiving his Los Angeles Lakers jersey next to Jerry West and Del Harris.
Kobe is introduced in Los Angeles after being acquired from the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft.
[Photo by Steve W. Grayson, UPI]

June 27, 1996: Kobe Bryant receiving his Los Angeles Lakers jersey next to Jerry West and Del Harris.

Kobe is introduced in Los Angeles after being acquired from the Charlotte Hornets in the 1996 NBA Draft.

[Photo by Steve W. Grayson, UPI]

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