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“At Halftime He Was Hitting The Cigar”: Michael Jordan ‘Tricked’ Paul Pierce Into Believing He Was Done For The Night At The 2003 ASG

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

"At Halftime He Was Hitting The Cigar": Michael Jordan 'Tricked' Paul Pierce Into Believing He Was Done For The Night At The 2003 ASG

Stories of Michael Jordan‘s hyper-focus and unmatched competitive spirit are part of the allure that makes him one of the most revered athletes of all time. While tales about the Chicago Bulls icon suggest he could never turn off his almost animalistic instinct to compete, an incredible story from Hall of Famer Paul Pierce points to the contrary. In the latest episode of The Truth Lounge, the former Boston Celtics man harked back to the 2003 All-Star Game, Jordan’s final appearance in the marquee event. Pierce said,

“At halftime [of the 2003 All-Star Game], he was hitting the cigar. I’m like, ‘Damn, he smoking a cigar at halftime. Like, is he going out in the second half?’ Then he goes out in the second half and hits the game-winner. I’m thinking he’s done for the night. He in the back with [journalist] Ahmad Rashad hitting the cigar at halftime with the jersey still on.”

The image of Jordan smoking a cigar in the locker room at halftime is likely permanently imprinted on Pierce’s brain, however, he did misremember the events of the 2003 All-Star game. While the then-Washington Wizards star hit the go-ahead shot with 4.8 seconds left in overtime, it wasn’t the game-winner.

Jordan’s protege and Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant responded to his idol’s fadeaway jumper with a desperate three-pointer which was just short of the mark. However, Jermaine O’Neal fouled him on the shot attempt, sending him to the free-throw line. Bryant needed a lucky bounce to sink the first before he missed the second, putting the weight of the world on his shoulder. However, the Lakers superstar banked the final shot to tie the game, before promptly securing the victory to send the game into double-overtime.

The West dominated in the double OT and outscored the East 17-7 in the period to secure the win. Bryant’s clutch free throws prevented Jordan from adding another to his collection of game-winners. However, players on both teams gave it their all and the result was an incredible game with as many as 26 lead changes. The 2003 All-Star game is the perfect example of Bryant’s description of the event being “the best pickup game in the world“, as players on both teams treated it as such as they delivered a masterpiece.

Michael Jordan’s affinity for cigars


There are countless images of Michael Jordan celebrating an NBA championship with a lit cigar in his mouth. While most smokers start early, the Bulls superstar did not develop the habit until he was 28.

In an interview with, he revealed that he didn’t smoke until 1991,

“I smoked my first cigar in 1991, when we won the championship. Up to that point, I had never smoked a cigar, never smoked anything. We won the championship, and Jerry Reinsdorf gave me one of his cigars. He’s a big cigar smoker. The next time I received a cigar was from my good friend, Ahmad Rashad. He used to get these Churchills from Las Vegas that were dipped in rum.”

Soon after, Jordan developed the habit of smoking and would light one before every home game. The Bulls icon and his cigars were featured heavily in the Netflix documentary, ‘The Last Dance’. He’s adopted smoking as part of his lifestyle and it’s worth wondering whether he would have ever developed a habit had it not been for the Bulls’ triumph in 1991.

Post Edited By:Tonoy Sengupta

About the author

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar

Jay Mahesh Lokegaonkar


Jay Lokegaonkar is a basketball journalist who has been following the sports as a fan 2005. He has worked in a slew of roles covering the NBA, including writer, editor, content manager, social media manager, and head of content since 2018. However, his primary passion is writing about the NBA. Especially throwback stories about the league's iconic players and franchises. Revisiting incredible tales and bringing scarcely believable stories to readers are one his main interests as a writer.

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