Fans of basketball legend Michael Jordan expressed concern earlier on Thursday, as photos of the six-time NBA champion showed him holding a half-empty bottle of tequila in his right hand, with seemingly bloodshot eyes as he exited his hotel and prepared to enter his vehicle.
According to a report from TMZ, the photos were taken as Jordan was leaving a New York City hotel, with what looked to be a bottle of Tres Alegres Compadres Extra Anejo tequila and a “box of booze.” Separately, Hollywood Life wrote that the 55-year-old Jordan appeared to be holding a pillow, and seemed to “have some red in his eyes” and a “wild” smile as he walked by and ignored autograph seekers.
The Hollywood Life report added that Michael Jordan’s seemingly drunk appearance in the photos caused some fans to worry, and others to crack jokes about the multiple-time NBA scoring champion’s appearance. Some Twitter users quipped that Jordan might have been “drunk from last night,” which the publication speculated might have been valid, as today marks the 20th anniversary of a milestone event in his basketball career.
As noted by Hollywood Life, it was exactly two decades ago when Michael Jordan won the last of his six NBA championships, as well as his record-setting sixth NBA Finals MVP award, as the Chicago Bulls defeated the Karl Malone and John Stockton-led Utah Jazz, 4-2, in the 1998 NBA Finals. Jordan scored 45 points in that game and hit a 20-foot jumper with just 5.2 seconds to go, giving the Bulls a close 87-86 win over the Jazz.
“Twenty years later, Michael may have raised a glass at the performance that earned him the title of ‘Greatest Of All Time,’ Hollywood Life speculated.
In addition to his Game 6 performance in the 1998 Finals, which turned out to be his last game before a three-year retirement, Jordan had another memorable game in the second week of June — Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, aka the “Flu Game.” In this game, Jordan braved flu-like symptoms to score 38 points with seven rebounds, five assists, and three steals, and stepped up in the clutch as the Chicago Bulls again defeated the Utah Jazz, 90-88.
At the moment, there’s no word on why Michael Jordan might have been drinking ahead of his early Thursday morning sighting in New York City, but TMZ noted that it’s been well-documented that Jordan “loves his tequila and had been spotted multiple times enjoying the beverage in public settings.