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SI Vault: In third incarnation, Michael Jordan still performs feats of magic

In his third NBA incarnation, Michael Jordan shows he can still perform feats of magic. 

In the waning moments of last Friday night's game between the Washington Wizards and the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan added to his compendium of career highlights. With his team holding a six-point lead, Jordan had his jump shot partially blocked by Bulls forward Ron Artest, and Chicago started a fast break. Jordan was certain he had been fouled, but rather than protest the noncall, he sprinted downcourt, his eyes burning like headlights, trying to catch Chicago guard Ron Mercer. As Mercer was about to lay the ball in, Jordan materialized, seemingly from the ether. He didn't merely block the shot—he pinned the ball against the backboard with both hands and then pulled it down, preserving the Wizards' 89–83 win.

Even given the high threshold for awe that Jordan has created, it was a breathtaking play, the topic of animated discussion in both locker rooms afterward. "You knew he was going to do something amazing, because he always does," said Artest, who guarded Jordan for most of the game. "He was tired, it was the fourth quarter, but he came in and whoosh. With him, it's just like the movie Superman."

Well, not just like. By the time the Superman series had reached a second sequel, it was scarcely watchable, Clark Kent bearing only the faintest resemblance to his original incarnation. Michael Jordan III, however, is suddenly as enthralling as the first two editions. "The show keeps getting better, doesn't it?" says Washington guard Hubert Davis. "Sometimes you have to take a step back and say, 'Man, what a great story.'"

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