Michael Jordan, perhaps the most dominant team athlete to ever walk the Earth, could have picked anyone to introduce him during his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame tonight in Springfield, Massachusetts. He went with former Denver Nuggets great David Thompson, one of the city’s all-time greatest athletes, who is too often left out of the local pantheon of superstar athletes.
Thompson was one of MJ’s idols when he was young and captured Jordan’s youthful imagination with his 48-inch vertical leap and acrobatic dunks, writes Yahoo! Sports.
At the age of 23, Thompson was the best-paid player in the history of team sports, with a five-year, $4 million contract, according to NBA.com. He once shattered a backboard delivering a powerful dunk over Bill Walton of the Portland Trailblazers and put up 73 points in one game in an effort to win the league’s scoring title. At the time, it was the third-highest point total in a single game, behind Wilt Chamberlain.
Thompson’s career was cut short by intermittent drug abuse and a gnarly leg injury that he suffered after falling down some stairs at the old Studio 54 nightclub.