February 14, 2013
In January 1991, my brother won a raffle to be one of six Chicago-area children to participate in a shooting contest at Chicago Stadium during halftime of a Bulls game. All winners were allowed access to the court during the pregame shootaround, and I remember many players being kind to us and signing autographs.
However, I had brought a ton of basketball cards from friends that I'd forgotten in the car. I dragged my mom back outside into the rain, exiting through some kind of private, team personnel-only door. As luck would have it, Michael Jordan was just walking in.
Immediately I paused, dumbstruck, staring up at this enormous man who lived even larger in my imagination. "You're Michael Jordan," I told him matter-of-factly. "Yes I am." "Hi, I'm Jack," I said. And then, presumably before he could answer, "Listen, I've got a bunch of cards in the car I need you to sign. I'll be right back. Wait here," and as only a 9-year-old can, I raced off without car keys to open the car.
"Jack!" I heard my mom yell, and I turned around as she waved me back over, telling me, "That's not how this works." But Michael, to his credit, had not moved. I later wondered if he was obligated by management to kowtow to every little Bulls fan brat with access to the VIP door, but if that was the case he did not show his annoyance. My mom pulled a receipt or something out of her purse, and a pen, and MJ signed it and gave it to me. "I think you're going to win the championship this year!" I said to him as we shook hands. "Me too!" he said, and my mom and I walked to the car as he went inside.
--Jack M Silverstein, RedEye contributor