Today in Sports History: March 28th

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(The Mayflower leaves with the Colts' stuff. Photo by Lloyd Pearson, AP Photos)

3/28/1984 - Irsay Moves The Colts To Indy

Robert Irsay, the owner of the Baltimore Colts, had contemplated moving the team for some time. Memorial Stadium was in desperate need of renovations and could barely contain its 60,000 occupants. Irsay demanded repairs for the stadium and was, according to him, promised a new arena that the city of Baltimore never delivered. Irsay began shopping the team around and found that both Phoenix and Indianapolis were lobbying to get an expansion team. Indianapolis in particular won over Irsay with its "Hoosier Stadium" complex (later known as the RCA Dome).

Maryland officials got whiff of his ambition to move the Colts and threatened to seize the team via eminent domain. With Phoenix having dropped out of negotiations to acquire the Colts, and the state of Maryland breathing down his neck, Indianapolis was the only option for Irsay. He signed a 20-year lease to move the Colts to Indiana and, knowing how the Baltimore fans would react, he elected the team flee the city in the early hours of the morning.

At 2 AM the following day, fifteen green and yellow Mayflower moving trucks arrived at the Colts' training complex at Owings Mills, Maryland. As the snow flurried down on the city, all the Colts' memorabilia, merchandise, and memories were loaded onto the vehicles. The Baltimore inhabitants had no idea that they would wake up to the news that the Colts were gone and no longer their football team.

Baltimore mayor Don Schaefer, who had been personally promised a call by Irsay if the team was to move, appeared on the front page of the local paper in tears. "In a way, this gets very personal to me, when I thought someone would at least pick up the phone and say to me 'I'm going,'" he said. "I'm trying to retain what little dignity I have left in this matter. If the Colts had to sneak out of town that night, it degrades a great city."

143,000 Indianapolis Colts season tickets were requested within two weeks of the move. While Irsay was respected in Indiana for bringing the local fans a football team, he was otherwise loathed by the bulk of the sports populous (as are all owners who migrate their sports teams). Even his mother had bad things to say about him in a 1986 Sports Illustrated column. "He's a devil on earth, that one. He stole all our money and said goodbye. He (doesn't) care for me. I (haven't) even see him for 35 years. My husband, Charles, sent him to college. I made his wedding. Five thousand dollars, it cost us. When my husband got sick and got the heart attack, he took advantage. He was no good. He was a bad boy. I don't want to talk about him."

Baltimore did retain a football team in 1995 when Art Modell migrated the Browns in an equally unpopular move. While the city embraced the Baltimore Ravens, those who remembered the Colts had a hard time letting go. In 2007, the visiting Colts and Ravens met in a playoff game that was teeming with nostalgia. Indianapolis won it 15-6 in a postseason where they eventually won it all.

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3/28/1990 - Jordan drops 69 in Cleveland

Michael Jordan's utter domination of the Cleveland Cavaliers even extended into the regular season. Having knocked out the Cavs in the playoffs the past two seasons, including "The Shot" in 1989, "His Airness" had already scored 54 against Cleveland earlier in the year. In preparation of Jordan's next assault on the Cavaliers, a local article was written about what a tough defender Craig Ehlo was. In the paper, Michael described Ehlo as "a very good defender, and I accept it as a challenge."

When the Bulls and Cavs met on March 28, 1990, Jordan scored a career-high 69 points and also collected 18 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals. He connected on 17 of his first 23 shots and gave Chicago a commanding double-digit lead. With 45 seconds left in the third, Chicago led by 18 and then proceeded to give it away. A furious Cavalier comeback forced the game into overtime, which allowed Jordan to score eight more points. Ehlo actually sent the game in OT with a late three, however his heroics were once again stifled by Michael Jordan.

It's fitting that Jordan's career-high would be against the Cavaliers. His late game heroics would end the Cavs' seasons in '92 and '93 as well. When he made his comeback in a Wizards jersey, his first buzzer-beating game-winning shot was against, who else, the Cavs.

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(MJ's performance was his greatest at the Garden. Photo by Andy Hayt, Getty Images)

3/28/1995 - The Double-Nickle Game

Four games into his 1995 comeback, Michael Jordan knocked down a 16-foot jumper at the buzzer, giving the Chicago Bulls a 99-98 win over the Atlanta Hawks. Three days later, Jordan played game No. 5 at Madison Square Garden, against his old rivals, the New York Knicks. If anyone still needed proof that Michael Jordan was still Michael Jordan, His Airness provided it.

Jordan scored 55 points on 21-37 shooting, establishing not only a personal best at the Garden but the all-time scoring record by a visiting player at the Garden -- a record that stood until 2009, when Kobe Bryant scored 61. But that wasn't all. To seal the deal on one of the greatest performances of his career, Jordan also made the game-winning play. With under five seconds left in the game, and the score knotted at 111, Jordan penetrated into the lane, drew three defenders and dished it to Bill Wennington, who was wide open under the bucket. Wennington dunked home the winning field goal with 3.1 seconds left, giving the Bulls a 113-11 win.

"I'm a very aggressive guy," Jordan said after the game. "My first initiative is to score. I'd be lying if I said I come out to pass the ball -- I come out to score. I was going to make them stop me from scoring, and they did."

"I tried," said Knicks shooting guard John Starks. "I tried to throw everything I had at him. It was a matter of time before he played one of those games like you just weren't there."

Further reading:

Seeing The Shoe on Another Foot Is Still Difficult to Grasp [Washington Post]

Comparison: Jordan 69 - Kobe 81 [Jordan Extreme]

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