"My father made me who I am. He gave me a basketball and told me to play with the ball, sleep with the ball, dream with the ball. Just don’t take it to school. I used it as a pillow, and it never gave me a stiff neck." - Shaquille O’Neal

Hoop dreams.

Aug. 29, 1974 - Moses Malone is the first ball player drafted from high school

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Moses Malone was immediately signed by the Utah Stars. He became an instant success, averaging 18 points and 14 rebounds per game in his rookie season. He played in the American Basketball Association (ABA) until the ABA–NBA merger in 1976. He then played 19 successful seasons with 7 NBA teams. He won the NBA championship, along with the Finals Most Valuable Player Award, with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. His other achievements include 3 Most Valuable Player Awards, 12 consecutive All-Star Game selections, 8 All-NBA Team selections and 6 rebounding titles. He has been inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was also named in the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History list announced at the league’s 50th anniversary in 1996.

"The first thing I would do every morning was look at the box scores to see what Magic did. I didn’t care about anything else." - Larry Bird

Obsessed with being the best.

Aug. 18, 1992 - Larry Bird, 35, announced his retirement from basketball

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Larry Bird had been bothered by back problems for years, and his back became progressively worse. After leading the Boston Celtics to a 29–5 start to the 1990–91 season, he missed 22 games due to a compressed nerve root in his back, a condition that would eventually lead to his retirement. He had off-season surgery to remove a disc from his back, but his back problems continued and he missed 37 games during the 1991–92 season. His past glory would be briefly rekindled, however, in a game that season in which he scored 49 points in a double-overtime victory over the Portland Trail Blazers. During the 1992 Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Bird missed four of the seven games in the series due to those recurring back problems.

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"If somebody says no to you, or if you get cut, Michael Jordan was cut his first year, but he came back and he was the best ever. That is what you have to have. The attitude that I’m going to show everybody, I’m going to work hard to get better and better." - Magic Johnson

Happy 55th, Magic.

Hard Work. Dedication.

"Everybody in the world has an ego. The only difference between us is we have a reason to have an ego." - Charles Barkley, on the ‘Dream Team’

#KillYourEgo.

Aug. 8, 1992 - The ‘Dream Team’ won gold medal at the Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain

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ROSTER: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Scottie Pippen, Clyde Drexler, John Stockton, Karl Malone, David Robinson, Chris Mullen, Christian Laettner.

Head coach: Chuck Daly
Assistant coaches: Mike Krzyzewski, Lenny Wilkens, P.J. Carlesimo

The Dream Team was the first American Olympic team to feature active NBA players. Described by American journalists as the greatest sports team ever assembled, and called by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame “the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet”, it defeated its opponents by an average of almost 44 points.

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"I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. No matter what the injury, unless it’s completely debilitating, I’m going to be the same player I’ve always been. I’ll figure it out. I’ll make some tweaks, some changes, but I’m still coming." - Kobe Bryant

Here to stay!

"The one thing that always bothered me when I played in the NBA was I really got irritated when they put a white guy on me." - Larry Bird

FYI

#MJMondays

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Who gon’ stop me, huh?

Michael Jordan takes on the Detroit Pistons (Buck Wiliams, Isiah Thomas and Bill Lambeer).

"Being healthy is a complete lifestyle for me. It allows my brain to function at a very high degree so I can comprehend all the new things that are thrown at me. It also allows me to sleep well so that I am rested when I need to perform. Finally, being healthy will hopefully allow me to live a long and fun-filled life." - Derrick Rose

Make healthy living your lifestyle.

July 12, 1996 - Jordan signed a one-year $30 million contract with the Chicago Bulls

This was the biggest single-season contract ever in American team sports. The one year contract suggested Michael Jordan may leave the Chicago Bulls after the 1996-97 season, or retire. Jordan rewarded the franchise by delivering its fifth league championship.

The following season, Jordan became the only NBA player to sign a contract worth over thirty million dollars in a season. During the 1997-98 season, Jordan earned $33,000,000. He also proved his worth by winning a sixth NBA title for the Chicago Bulls.

"Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I walked. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can. My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball. I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now.” - LeBron James

"You don’t have to worry ‘cause I’m coming
Back to where I should have always stayed”
- The Jackson 5 - “I Wanna Be Where You Are

July 10, 1989 - The Chicago Bulls named Phil Jackson as head coach to replace Doug Collins

Phil Jackson was hired as assistant coach, under Doug Collins, for the Chicago Bulls in 1987, and was promoted to head coach in 1989. It was around this time that he met Tex Winter and became a devotee of Winter’s triangle offense. Over nine seasons, Jackson coached the Bulls to six championships, winning three straight championships over separate three-year periods. The “three-peat” was the first since the Boston Celtics won eight titles in a row from 1959 through 1966.

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