“Air Jordan”, formally known as Michael Jeffrey Jordan, is possibly the best basketball player to ever step foot in the NBA. With his sensational basketball skills and desire for the game, Michael Jordan was, and still considered, an exceptional athlete that popularized the National Basketball League as he was instrumental in developing the game of basketball into what it is today. Jordan has since retired from the game of basketball, but his legacy will surely live on to influence other future great players.
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Michael Jordan was born on February 17th, 1963 to Deloris and James Jordan Sr. in Brooklyn, NY. His family soon moved south to when Michael was just a toddler to Wilmington, North Carolin. As a child, he grew a close attachment to several sports including football, baseball, and of course, basketball. Jordan attended high school in Wilmington at Laney High School where he went out for the varsity basketball team in his sophomore year. Although his level of talent was above several of his friends, Michael was deemed to short to play for the varsity team, thus, he became the star of the junior varsity squad and averaged several high scoring games.
Michael decided to not to doubt himself because of his size and worked even harder on his game the following summer. Michael grew taller and elevated his game as he trained vigorously to prove his worth. The upcoming season, Jordan snagged a top spot on the varsity team roster and averaged 20 points a game in his last two years of high school eligibility. In his senior year of basketball, he was chosen to participate in the McDonald’s All American game, which is in an invitation only for all high school basketball standouts. The game is highly scouted by college coaches and teams who are looking for any talented players, a great opportunity for Jordan to show he could play against the elite.
In 1981, Michael’s determination to succeed finally paid off. He received an offer by the University of North Carolina to play basketball under the great coach Dean Smith. He immediately stepped into a high quality role in his freshman year at North Carolina, which earned him the ACC Freshman of the Year Award. Jordan was one of the top scorers on his team scoring 13.4 points a game. He led UNC to the 1982 NCAA Championship game against Georgetown and his future NBA rival, Patrick Ewing. The hype of the game turned out to be just as it was expected, a tough and exciting battle. The game came down to the final shot, where of course no other than Freshman Michael Jordan rose to the occasion, sinking a miraculous game-winning shot. The fabulous sensation of North Carolina went on to play two more seasons at North Carolina, averaging 17.7 points along with 5 rebounds a game. To add to his resume, Michael Jordan earned both the Naismith College Player of the Year, as well as the Wooden College Player of the Yea Award.
In the upcoming offseason, Jordan announced his decision to enter the NBA draft of 1984.With the experience that he received under Dean Smith, as well as his good-given talent, it was no surprise when Michael was selected as the third overall pick to play for the Chicago Bulls, where his NBA legacy would begin. Jordan quickly became a favorite of many fans, including fans of other teams. When you heard of the number 23, people knew Michael Jordan’s name. Just some time over a month into his career, he had already appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Michael was voted to the All-Star as a rookie, an accomplishment that many young athletes could only dream of obtaining. However, several veteran players became jealous and upset with all the fame and attention the rookie was receiving. His All-Star teammates refused to pass him the ball, resulting in the expectations of Jordan’s first All-Star game to falter, as his stats staggered and were quite lower than normal. Returning to regular season play, Michael Jordan re-focused his game and on his team as he continued his fabulous rookie season which earned him the Rookie of the Year Award. The Chicago Bulls made the playoffs that year, but failed to complete a championship run as his team slipped up and lost in the first round.
The upcoming second season of the rookie standout Michael Jordan was highly anticipated. However, it was unexpectedly cut short by a broken foot that caused him to miss over 64 games of the regular season. The Chicago Bulls had a rough road ahead; they managed to make the playoff run once again this year, only this time without their star player. Things began to heat up one again when the news spread that Jordan would be able to return in time for the playoffs. To no surprise, Jordan performed well just as if he never had been injured. Jordan sprang back out onto the court, where he set the record for the most points scored in a playoff game with 62 spectacular points, a record that is still unbroken today. Despite his marvelous return and great playoff game, the 1985-86 Boston Celtics were too strong a team to defeat, and swept the series. The Bulls were only left to look back on their disappointing season.
Jordan and the Bulls set out once again the next season to prove their strength and worthiness in the league. Michael returned to full health by the 1986-87 season, where he mastered one of the most prolific seasons in the history of NBA, both offensively and defensively. On offense, M.J. scored over 3,000 points, beating the record of NBA great Wilt Chamberlain, while he was able to average a league-high 37.1 points. He proved he defensive talent as well, racking in 200 steals along with 100 blocks, which made him the first player to accomplishment such a task. Although Jordan’s had a successful year, he didn’t manage to capture the MVP award and his team once again was knocked out of the playoffs by the Boston Celtics.
Michael Jordan was now entering mid-career, after two seasons of experience in the league. He had already become an icon for the game, but still lacked what it took to get his team to the championship. In the 1987-89 season, Jordan once again redeemed his scoring title and led the league in scoring, only this time he was rewarded for his efforts. Michael received his first MVP award, one of many to come, along with Defensive Player of the Award. Chicago tallied a season record of 50-32 which landed them a spot in the playoffs once again. They managed to survive the first round of the playoff for the first time in Jordan’s career, and were then pitted against a more experienced and physical Detroit team in the second round, that would eventually go on defeat the Bulls.
Chicago became used to watching the playoffs on the outside as they couldn’t seem to even sneak their way past opponent in the first round. The next season, to no surprise, Jordan reclaimed his scoring title. He and his team advanced to the Eastern Conference final, something they haven’t been able to do in the past several years, and were faced once again against Detroit. Realizing that Jordan was Chicago’s go to player, Detroit began used what is known as the “Jordan Rules” method, where they used efficient double teams or even triple teaming Jordan, every single time he had the ball in his hands, which dismantled the Bulls offensive weapon. Just as they had lost to the Boston Celtics consecutive years, they were no threat to the Pistons and suffered another playoff that had them on the outside looking in.
Jordan, now well-experienced, gained some help that made the bulls a team to be reckoned with. Under new coach Phil Jackson, along with young improving players, Jordan and his team looked to push farther into the playoff run with the 1889-90. This year it came down to the Pistons and Bulls once again in the Eastern Conference finals. The Bulls exerted all the force they could possibly have to push the series to a final game, however, they couldn’t pull together once again losing for the third consecutive year to a strong and dynamic Detroit team.
The upcoming 1990-91 NBA season was highly anticipated, and would be nothing less than expected. If the Bulls couldn’t get the job done, Jordan made sure to still play his role. This year being his seventh in the league, M.J. recorded impressive stats, earning him his second MVP award. The Bulls, together as a team, also managed to produce some impressive work. They came together to win their division with an astonishing 61-win season against some great competition, which was something their franchise hadn’t done in over 16 years. Their now arch-rival, the Detroit Pistons, awaited them once again this year in the Eastern Finals. However, this time Jordan had a plan and also some help from his teammate Scottie Pippen. When the Pistons tried using their “Jordan Rules” defense this time, Michael picked them apart with his passing skills, allowing the Bulls to finally sweep Detroit.
Jordan lead Chicago into the game facing the Los Angeles Lakers, as Chicago would take part in the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history. From his youth years, to now, the opportunity of winning a NBA championship became reality to Jordan. In game 2 came one of Jordan’s most memorable highlights of the series, maybe even his career, when he mastered one of his many creative, high-flying dunks. Basketball players today still try to imitate this crafty dunk but the originator, Michael Jordan, perfected it. The Bulls beat the Lakers in a short series, bringing their successful season to a close. Jordan obtained the Finals MVP Award for his performance, and cried as he and his team rejoiced their championship victory that was long awaited.
The feeling of being on top of the world took Jordan and the Bulls by storm. After having a season like the one before, they had their mind set on continuing their dominance the next year with the 1991-92 season. It was becoming obvious Jordan’s talent was like no other as he won another MVP award, leading his team to another Finals series this year. The media created a hype that was greater than the year before, as the Bulls faced off Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trailblazers. They hoped to recreate a rivalry such as the Bird-Magic rivalry of the NBA, pointing out several similarities between Jordan and Clyde. The first game of the finals became another record-setting day for Jordan. He scored a Finals-high 35 points in only the first half, and with no doubt, was unstoppable. The Bulls defeated Portland in a 6-game series, with Jordan accepting the honors at Finals MVP for his second consecutive year.
With the 1992-1993 underway, the Bulls season didn’t go as expected, although they still maintained their sense of the game. Jordan’s streak of winning MVP at the season’s end came to a halt, as another NBA great, Charles Barkley obtained the award. Fittingly, the 1993 Finals pitted the defending Chicago Bulls against Barkley and the Phoenix Suns. On a game-winning shot by Jordan’s teammate John Paxson, and a last-second defensive stand, the Bulls claimed their three-peat Championship. With the win, M.J. stepped in NBA history once again, as he won his third consecutive Finals MVP award. In Jordan’s seven year stretch as a professional basketball player, he attained seven scoring titles along with three gracious championships. But with all the money and fame, happiness isn’t guaranteed. Jordan began to show signs of his tiring, possibly from all the hassles and stress outside of basketball.
In the offseason of 1993, Jordan received news that was crippling for any son to here. His father, James Jordan Sr., who taught Michael all he knew, was murdered in July of that year, at a rest stop area in North Carolina. Jordan had always been close to father, even as a child. He developed many of his father’s traits, such as sticking his tongue out every time he drove to the basket, which is a characteristic he was known for. On the 6th of October that year, Jordan announced that he would retire from the game of basketball, stating that he has lost his love for the game itself, even though later admitting it was his father’s death that influenced the decision. His announced retirement sent shock to all of the basketball nation and around the world.
Jordan spent time to himself and focusing on his family as well as reflecting back on his father’s life. To purse the dream of his father, Jordan surprised the sports nation once again, this time by signing a contract deal to play baseball for a minor league team owned by the Chicago White Sox in 1994. However, Jordan’s career as a baseball player just wasn’t meant to be.
Without Michael Jordan, the Chicago Bulls were a completely different team than they were just two years earlier. The Bulls were struggling to even make the playoffs, but soon they received an unexpected lift. On March 8, 1995, Michael Jordan held a press conference where he officially announced he would return the NBA, and the game of basketball itself, as he declared “I’m back.” In his return to the court with the Bulls, Jordan claimed the number 45 jersey as his previous 23 had been retired after his previous retirement.
Jordan had spent nearly a year and half without stepping foot into an NBA game. However, he managed to perform quite well in his return, which wasn’t very shocking to any of his fans. Michael gave the Chicago Bulls the uplift that they needed to lead them back to the playoffs. The Bulls moved on to the Eastern Conference showdown against the Orlando Magic. Jordan proved he hadn’t lost any skills as he tallied 31 points a game during the series, but it wasn’t enough as the Magic defeated the Bulls in a six game stretch.
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Facing the upcoming 1995-1996 season, Jordan trained vigorously to return to his prime, and wouldn’t accept defeat again after the previous season’s playoff loss. Jordan returned wearing his famous number 23 jersey, along with some additional help from teammate Dennis Rodman. The Bulls proved there dominance once again as they wrapped up the season with an NBA best record of 72 wins and only10 losses. Michael Jordan led the league in scoring along with earning the All-Star MVP award and regular season MVP award at the end of the year. He and the Bulls defeated the Seattle Supersonics in the Finals to win the Championship, which would be the first of Jordan’s second “3-peat.” Following the championship game, Jordan was named Finals MVP after his marvelous performances throughout the playoffs, which would surpass Magic Johnson’s record at only three MVP awards.
Jordan and the Bulls set out in the 1996-1997 season with a focused mentality. All the glory that surrounded them was great but they now had to focus on this season alone. The Bulls didn’t disappoint, finishing up regular season play at 69-13. Michael failed to conquer the MVP award, which was taken by Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz, but would later have the chance for revenge. The Bulls and Jordan faced Malone and his Jazz in the Finals as the Bulls look to make their run for back-to-back championships. The series became a memorable one for MJ as he hit two game-winning shots, one coming in Game 1 and the other in Game 5. Chicago won the series in only 6 of the 7 game series, as Jordan accepted the Finals MVP award for a second consecutive year.
Michael Jordan became, if not already, the face of Chicago and the Bulls. If anyone was to mention Chicago, Jordan’s name was right along in the mix. He had built an empire that surrounded the Bulls, and wasn’t finished yet. With a 62-20 record in the 1997-1998 season, Jordan showed the world once again that he was the best as he claimed the regular season MVP award for the fifth time.
Prevailing through a gruesome series with the Indiana Pacers in a tough Eastern Conference Battle, the Bulls and Jordan saw themselves in a rematch of the previous year’s Finals. The Utah Jazz wanted to do nothing but upset the Bulls and pull of the victory; however, Jordan didn’t see that happened. MJ perfected a last-minute play drawn up by Coach Phil Jackson to seal the win for the Bulls. The clutch shot that Jordan sunk secured the Bulls their second three-peat championship, and it is still rebroadcasted even today as it is one of Jordan’s career highlights. The 1998 Finals was nothing less than entertaining and drew in a large viewing crowd with the highest television rating ever.
Even through all the glory obtained with the Bulls, retirement was once again on the mind of superstar Michael Jordan. He was aware that teammates Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman would soon be departing who were both keys to his performance. To top the decision, Coach Phil Jackson’s contract was expiring. Jordan decided that in his best interest he would retire, for a second time, and he did so on January 13 of 1999. He believed within himself that he had built a legacy that all would remember, and that it was time to move on.
Jordan returned to the NBA the following year on January 19, 2000. However this time it wasn’t as a player, but took over the Basketball Operations as President for the Washington Wizards in which he was left in charge with all aspects of the team. Some believed he was a better player than a basketball executive as some of his decisions weren’t too professional. Although he stated that he would stick to retirement this time, Jordan made several moves that foreshadowed a comeback to play in the NBA once again. In the summer of 2001 he expressed interest in making a return and he also hired his old coach from his days in Chicago, Doug Collins, to coach the Wizards in the season ahead.
As expected by some, Jordan announced once again that he would return to play on September 25, 2001 as he stated his intentions to help that relief effort for the victims of the horrible September 11 attacks. In his second return, Jordan led the Washington Wizards in points, assists, and steals, proving that age hasn’t consumed his skills or love for the game. However, Jordan had torn cartilage in his right knee which would cut his 2001-2002 season short. In 2003, Michael participated in his 14th and final All Star Game, where he passed Kareem Aldul-Jabbar to take the top spot on the all-time scoring leader list in the All-Star Game.
In his two finals seasons, Jordan and the Wizards failed to make a playoff appearance. In recognition that the 2002-2003 would be Michael’s last run, he received a gracious amount of tributes. Jordan played his final game for the Wizards against Philadelphia on April 16, 2003.
Jordan had a rough night, scoring only 13 points and left the game late in the third quarter. At the beginning of the fourth and final quarter, the crowed began to chant “We want Mike!” Jordan re-entered the game and played until less than two minutes were left in the game. An intentional foul was committed so that Jordan could receive his well-earned recognition as he left the game. Teammates, opponents, and a crowd of 21,257 fans gave a three minute standing ovation to the man who contributed so much to the game of basketball and the NBA, Michael Jordan.
. He leads many categories in the record books that are still unbroken today and influenced such NBA superstars today such as Lebron James and Dwayne Wade. Jordan is a 6-time NBA champion and has led the NBA in scoring in a total of 10 seasons. He tallied 5,987 points in the playoffs which is the highest in NBA history and scored 32,292 points in regular season play, placing him third on the all-time scoring list. He holds five regular season MVP awards, six Finals MVP awards, and three All-Star MVPs, making him one of the most decorated players to play in the NBA.
Following his third retirement, Jordan looked to assume his position back as the Wizards Director of Basketball Operations. However the mixed emotions that were felt prior to his return led him being fired, leaving him with a feeling of betrayal. Michael kept busy over the next few years, including spending time with his family as well as promoting his clothing line. He formed his own motorcycle racing team, Michael Jordan Motorsports, and in 2006 became part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Jordan also has assumed a role in the community, donating a large amount of money to various organizations across the world.
Aside from Jordan’s professional career, his personal life is often overlooked. He married Juanita Vanoy in September of 1989, but divorced in 2006 over irreconcilable differences. Together they had two sons by the names of Jeffrey Michael and Marcus James, and one daughter by the name of Jasmine. Jordan now resides in Highland Park, Illinois His two sons have followed in his footsteps and both play basketball, Jeffrey Michael for the University of Illinois, and Marcus James for the University of Central Florida.
Michael has now stepped into the life of a regular businessman, as he has transformed into one of the most major marketing icons in history. He has been involved with such brands as Nike, Gatorade, Ball Park Franks, Wheaties, and Hanes. Jordan has appeared in movies including the 1996 Space Jam movie, which starred Jordan himself in a fictional story surrounding his first retirement. He’s appeared in over 20 commercials for Gatorade and now does commercials for Hanes.
The most associated business that Jordan is involved with is certainly Nike. Nike created the “Air Jordan”, which is Jordan’s signature shoe. The initial hype for the shoe was increasingly high, even involving people being robbed at gunpoint for the Air Jordan sneaker in many larger cities. The demand for the shoes resulted in Nike taking the Jordan line to new heights and separating it into its own division. The “Jordan Brand” today is now among the elite companies in the game. It has become more than shoes but now also features Jordan’s clothing line. The “Jumpman” logo that is featured on the products is a image of MJ created by Nike that is used to promote his merchandise. Recent suggestions have led to argument whether or not the NBA should make the Jumpman logo the official NBA logo in honor of Jordan.
The legacy Jordan has created is unremarkable and will be hard for anyone to recreate. He earned numerous rewards and set records that seem almost impossible to reach. When kids dream of making it the NBA the first thought is “I want to be like Mike” or either they try to imitate Jordan’s flashy and creative moves. Michael Jordan’s influence on players and the game of basketball itself is immeasurable and his legacy proves why he is considered the best basketball player of all time.
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