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If there is someone who is on par with NBA legend Michael Jordan for his global impact, it would be the late boxing legend, Muhammad Ali. Some fans would argue that the boxing legend’s impact was more. However, the two stars’ contributions to their respective sport are huge. Both helped popularise their sport around the world. And they were also the face of the sport. More importantly, the two legends in their prime were unstoppable. And their opponents had a tough time dancing with them on the floor.
When Ali made his professional debut in 1960, Jordan was not even born. Other than being one of the greatest boxers ever, Ali is one of the greatest trash talkers ever. Much like Michael Jordan.

‘The People’s Champion’ has also given some legendary interviews over the years. In 1981, Muhammad Ali decided to retire from boxing. However, he remained a social activist throughout his life.
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In 1984, he made his diagnosis of Parkinson’s syndrome public. But he continued making public appearances. And Ali was in attendance in the United Center for the 1997 NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and the Utah Jazz.
The boxing legend was wearing a Bulls jacket as he made an appearance in the 1997 NBA Finals to witness superstar Michael Jordan. As the announcer made the announcement about Ali’s presence, the United Center erupted in support. He walked up to the game officials and provided them with the game ball.
It was the first game of the series and the Bulls had home-court advantage. Jordan and the Bulls come into the Finals as the defending champions. Before the game started, there were doubts about Scottie Pippen’s involvement in the game due to an injury. However, he would start and was crucial for the Bulls.
Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali before game 1 of the 1997 NBA Finals.
/>— NBA Memes (@NBAMemes) April 22, 2022
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Utah Jazz was confident with their two superstars Karl Malone and John Stockton. And game 1 was a very close encounter as both teams went toe-to-toe throughout the game. However, the Bulls prevailed as they won with a scoreline of 84-82. Jordan led the scoring for both teams with 31 points as Ali witnessed him bedazzle. And Pippen was a close second with 27 points.
Malone came in 3rd and led the Jazz with his 23 points along with 15 rebounds. Stockton recorded a double-double with 16 points and 12 assists. For the Bulls, only MJ and Pippen scored in double digits in points. However, Dennis Rodman was at his usual best as he chipped in with 12 rebounds.  And the Bulls went on the win the title 4-2.
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Who do you think is the bigger icon between Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali? Let us know in the comments.
Bagavathi Eswaran
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