today-in-history

Air Lauer: Matt recreates Michael Jordan's dunking pic

Aug. 14, 2012 at 8:09 AM ET

TODAY anchors are stepping back in time to recreate some of the most famous pictures ever taken as part of the new series, TODAY in History. This morning, Matt turns into Air Lauer with a little help from Michael Jordan. 

Iconic photo:

Bill Smith /

TODAY's recreation:

Bill Smith /

Everyone wants to "Be Like Mike," per that famous ad. Matt Lauer actually got the chance.

The TODAY co-anchor stepped into Michael Jordan's incredibly large shoes to recreate an image where the basketball legend practically defies gravity.

The photo comes from a 1988 dunking competition where Jordan faced off against Dominique "The Human Highlight Film" Wilkins. The match came down to the final attempt. "I had a chance to win," Jordan told Matt. "I wanted to do something special."

He ran down the court, jumping at the foul line. "He flew through the air. You know, like a bird," said Bill Smith, the Chicago Bulls' team photographer who snapped the pic. "And I was sitting there hoping I didn't screw it up."

In an age before digital cameras, Smith had to wait hours for the film to be developed before learning his prayers had been answered. "I just thought, 'Thank God. Thank God.'"

Could Smith make lightning strike twice this time with a man better known for his plaid jacket than hoops skills?

The photographer needed some help, calling on the off-Broadway show Fuerza Bruta. They provided an elaborate system of harnesses, pulleys and fishing line that helped give Matt some hang time.

Did Matt recreate the photo? Tell us on Facebook, and point out any differences you see!

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