Legendary singer Kenny Rogers passed away on Friday evening at the age of 81, and so the sports world on Saturday was all about reliving Rogers’ epic performance against Michael Jordan and other NBA legends in a 1988 celebrity basketball game.
Per USA Today, the game was all part of the Kenny Rogers Classic Weekend, which was a three-day fundraising festivity the singer would put on in his home state of Georgia at the height of his popularity. The game was called by Los Angeles Lakers play-by-play announcer Chick Hearn, and Rogers went full beast mode on Jordan during the game, as well as other top-flight NBA players, including Isiah Thomas and Larry Bird.
Of course, it was Jordan who got the last laugh in the game.
After Rogers put Jordan “in the popcorn machine” (as described by Hearn) with a jump shot from long-range that Jordan misplayed, the all-time NBA legend turned things around to lead his team to the comeback victory.
BallIsLife.com later posted even more amazing highlights from that legendary 1988 basketball tournament to honor the beloved singer and his amazing roundball skills.
Could More Amazing Tidbits Be Revealed Soon?
Even more amazing tributes to Rogers could be revealed soon, particularly more revelations from the Kenny Rogers Classic. In fact, according to NBA podcaster Adam Ryan, Rogers briefly balling all over Jordan in that celebrity pick-up basketball game alongside Dominique Wilkins was only a single moment out of an entire three-day weekend that was packed with events.
What other amazing oddities might reveal themselves soon?
Sure, it would be hard to beat faking out arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time at the top of the key before coldly dropping in the dime to make good on your “Gambler” moniker.
But after seeing Rogers’ epic ball skills on display in all their glory, it isn’t hard to envision other awesome things coming out about Rogers over the next week or so either.
Remembering Rogers Faking out Jordan
Rogers put a slick move on Jordan. The funniest thing about the whole thing might be just how intense Jordan was compared to the rest of the players in the game. But Rogers being able to get one of the all-time greatest defenders to bite on his pump fake is as epic a move as anyone could ever really hope for in such a situation.
And 32 years later, USA Today’s Chris Bumbaca helped immortalize the moment in print:
Rogers catches a pass near the top of the key.
Jordan flies toward him, hell-bent on stuffing the jumper. Rogers pump-fakes and side steps (travels didn’t exist back then either, apparently).
Rogers finds nothing but net. Wilkens high-fives him. As Hearn calls it, “Kenny Rogers puts Michael Jordan in the popcorn machine!”
What an amazing moment in celebrity pickup basketball game history.