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    Good News in History, February 17

    60 years ago today, Michael Jordan was born. His biography on the official National Basketball Association (NBA) website states “by acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time.” He won titles with the Chicago Bulls in 1991, 92, 93, 96, 97, and 98. As a rookie in 1985, an often-cited premonition of the athlete he was to become happened when, during a Nike exhibition match in Trieste, Italy, Jordan shook the arena by shattering the glass of the backboard while performing a dunk. READ some more about His Airness… (1963)


    By Steve Lipofsky at

    Even before the Bulls began to enjoy their dynasty period, Jordan was playing out of his shoes. In the 1986-87 season, he not only became the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain to score 3,000 points in a season, averaging a league-high 37.1 ppg on 48.2% shooting, but managed to become the first player in NBA history to record 200 steals and 100 blocked shots in a season, an all-aroundness to his game that Jordan later lamented wasn’t highlighted better.

    Wonderfully unique, Jordan’s career is filled with stats and anecdotes that leave a lasting impression. As the Bulls organization built the franchise around Jordan, management had to trade away players who were not “tough enough” to compete with him in practice. Another career highlight was his durability. Of the 15 seasons Jordan was in the NBA, he played all 82 regular season games nine times.

    Jordan had a special “Love of the Game Clause” written into his contract, which was unusual at the time, and allowed him to play basketball against anyone at any time, anywhere. As late as 2020, NBA Finals television ratings had not returned to the level reached during his last championship-winning season.

    Jordan’s individual accolades and accomplishments include six NBA Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards, ten NBA scoring titles (both all-time records), five NBA MVP awards, ten All-NBA First Team designations, nine All-Defensive First Team honors, fourteen NBA All-Star Game selections, three NBA All-Star Game MVP awards, three NBA steals titles, and the 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award. He holds the NBA records for career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and career playoff scoring average (33.4 points per game).

    MORE Good News on this Date:

    • Puccini’s Italian opera Madama Butterfly premiered—the heart-wrenching love story of a beautiful geisha who sacrifices her family, religion, and more, for her American husband, who buys the 15-year-old’s hand in marriage while stationed in Japan–with no intention of taking her home to America (1904)
    • The Armory Show opened in New York City as the first large exhibition of modern art in America featuring the impressionists of Europe (1913)
    • The world’s first comic superhero, The Phantom, was published (1936)
    • Pope Pius XII declared the patron saint of television: Saint Clare [1193–1253] of Assisi (1958)
    • Elvis Presley won his first Gold record for his second LP ‘Elvis‘, making The King the first recording artist to have two albums go straight to No.1 in the same year (1960)

    Happy 66th birthday to a titan of folk music: the multi-instrumentalist Loreena McKennitt. Born in Manitoba to Irish-Scottish ancestry, she fell in love with Celtic music traditions after a trip to Ireland. She learned how to play the Celtic harp and used it on the busk to make money to record her first album. She has sold more than 14 million records worldwide, with each album featuring a mix of different folk music traditions. During her production in the 90s, The Visit and Book of Secrets were certified quadruple platinum in Canada, while The Mask and Mirror reached triple. She has collected many honors for her music from both industry awards, and the country of Canada.

    Loreena McKennitt in 2012. CC 3.0. supermat.

    Before McKennitt composes any music, she engages in considerable research on a specific subject which then forms the general concept of the album. Before creating Elemental and Parallel Dreams, she traveled to Ireland for inspiration from the country’s history, folklore, geography, and culture. The Mask and Mirror was preceded by research in Spain where she studied Galicia, a Celtic section of Spain, along with its abundant Arabic roots. The result was an album that included elements of Celtic and Arabic music. According to the jacket notes, her album An Ancient Muse was inspired by travels among and reading about the various cultures along the Silk Road.  LISTEN to her fill the Alhambra with her beautiful voice… (1967)

    Happy 51st Birthday to guitarist and singer Billie Joe Armstrong who co-founded Green Day, the band whose anti-war album, American Idiot, won a Grammy and six other music awards.

    Billie Joe Armstrong-2006-CC-Lloyd Morgan
    Photo by Lloyd Morgan, CC

    He wrote his first song when he was five years old and met his future bandmate in the lunch room of his elementary school, a partner with whom he later achieve massive commercial success. (1972)

    27 years ago today, Russian chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov completed his defeat of the IBM supercomputer ‘Deep Blue’ in a six-game chess match.

    1980) GFHund, CC license / (1985) S.M.S.I., Inc. – Owen Williams, The Kasparov Agency, Copyright 2007

    Kasparov had been the youngest-ever World Chess Champion in 1985 at the age of 22, a title he held for 15 years (another record). From 1984 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked No.1 in the world—for 255 months overall, with a peak rating of 2851.

    Considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time, Kasparov is also the author of How Life Imitates Chess, and other books.

    He’s an outspoken activist for democracy and fair elections. Living in New York City and currently Chairman for the Human Rights Foundation, in 2017, he founded the Renew Democracy Initiative, an American political group promoting and defending liberal democracy worldwide. (1996)

    And, 98 years ago, Hal Holbrook, the great actor, director, and writer was born. He received critical acclaim for playing Mark Twain in his original one-man stage show. He won the 1966 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for that role—and five Emmys throughout his career.

    Holbrook As Twain, photo by University of Houston; and in 2009 by – CC licenses

    He gained international fame for playing the anonymous reporter source ‘Deep Throat’ in the film, All the President’s Men about Nixon’s crimes. He also played Lincoln in a TV miniseries and appeared in films like Wall Street, The Firm, and Men of Honor. Holbrook earned a SAG and Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Sean Penn’s Into the Wild. As a television actor, he starred in and directed many episodes of Designing Women, playing opposite his real-world former wife of 26 years, Dixie Carter.

    In 2017, six years after writing his memoir, Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain, Holbrook announced his retirement from six decades of playing the Twain role, but did appear in the final season of Bones in 2017 at age 92. He passed away in January 2021. WATCH him as Mark Twain giving hilarious opinions on Cats, Congress, and Exercise … (1925)

    MORE READ: Good News in History, February 18

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