Michael Jordan attracts crowds.
Hundreds of fans wait outside the Bulls' downtown hotel here merely to catch a passing glimpse of him as he walks 20 feet to a bus.Legions of television cameras and reporters follow him as he walks around the Delta Center court after a team shootaround, waiting for him to stop in one place and talk.
"They're closing in on you, Steve," Jordan joked after he led the following herd toward Steve Kerr, who was shooting free throws.
Of course, the basketball court is no sanctuary.
Surely, Jordan has seen more double-teams than any player in history. Surely, Utah will continue to send them as the NBA Finals progress, especially when he turns in performances like the one he had Friday night in Game 2.
Jordan scored 37 points to lead the Bulls to a series-tying 93-88 victory. He scored early and often over various defenders and various schemes.
Not that Jordan cares who is guarding him. In Game 1, Utah sent six different defenders at him and he still scored 33 points. Before Game 2, Jordan graded each of them as if going through a checklist.
"(Jeff) Hornacek is smaller than I am. (Shandon) Anderson is a little bit more physical, but I can still shoot over the top," Jordan said. "(Bryon) Russell and what's the other guy's name? Chris Morris. They're bigger. But it isn't anything I haven't played against."
No disrespect meant, Mr. Morris. Jordan has torched so many defenders in his career, he surely can't remember all their names.
"I have yet to see any of those guys guard me one-on-one," Jordan said. "They have double-teams coming at me left and right. I just make my adjustments and move the ball."
Jordan did exactly that in the second quarter. On successive possessions, Jordan beat a Utah double-team to find an open teammate.
First he passed over Morris and Howard Eisley to Scott Burrell for a three-pointer. He then beat another double-team with a no-look pass to Luc Longley for a dunk.
"I'm used to it," Jordan said of the double-teams. "This isn't anything that I'm not accustomed to."
Utah's strategy is to try to wear down the somewhat fatigued Jordan. Granted, Jazz players know Jordan will score his points, but perhaps enough double-teams will wear on him.
The strategy worked in Game 1: Jordan missed 10 of his last 15 shots. Jordan shot just 8 for 20 in the second half Friday night, but he came up big with a huge three-point play with 47.9 seconds left to give the Bulls the lead for good.
"This is fun," Jordan said. "It could very well be the last one. So I'm enjoying it with that purpose in mind."
But then the game starts and the crowd noise rises and the game gets taut.
And Jordan turns into Superman again. Jordan comes and saves the day.