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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

A Final Finale for Chicago's No. 23

CHICAGO -- He built the arena, filled it with plush seats and skyboxes, and claims he will never play in it. So what better way for the city of Chicago -- the entire sports world, in fact -- to honor Michael Jordan than to give him his night and his statue at the new United Center?


They tried to cover his this-is-your-life event Tuesday night in two hours when 200 were needed. But since this Salute to Michael Jordan was made for cable television, prime time had to do. It had to capture the essence of the era's Babe Ruth. It had to give 21,000 fans the chance to sob again and officially say good-bye. And it had to try to convince Michael one last time that he was making a huge mistake by leaving for the game of baseball for good.


No luck on the last effort.


But it scored on the other two. Jordan bathed in the dripping testimonials, chuckled at Da Superfans, hummed along with Boyz II Men and, with his three kids, pulled his No. 23 Bulls jersey to the rafters.


"I think they wanted to make me cry," Jordan said of the fans who engulfed him with adulation."But I wasn't going to drop a tear."


And when it was his time, Jordan stood and spoke about what it all meant.


"At the age of 12 my father got me started playing the game of basketball," Jordan said. "For the next 21 years I thought of this day. I'm very happy I had the opportunity to play this game of basketball."