Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York), is an American former NBA player, and is considered the greatest basketball player of all time.
Considered a remarkable force at both ends of the floor, "M.J." ended a career of 15 seasons with a regular-season scoring average of 30.12 points per game, the highest in NBA history (ahead of Wilt Chamberlain's 30.06). He won six NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls (during which he won all six NBA Finals MVP awards), won 10 scoring titles, and was league MVP five times. He was named to the All-NBA First Team 10 times, All-Defensive First Team nine times, and led the league in steals three times. Since 1983, he has appeared on the front cover of Sports Illustrated a record 49 times, and was named the magazine's "Sportsman of the Year" in 1991. In 1999, he was named "the greatest athlete of the 20th century" by ESPN, and placed second on the Associated Press list of top athletes of the century. His leaping ability, vividly illustrated by dunking from the foul line and other feats, earned him the nicknames "Air Jordan" and "His Airness."
* Height: 6 feet 6 inches (198 cm)
* Vertical leap: 42 inches (106 cm)
* Weight: 216 lb (98 kg)
Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, to James and Delores Jordan. The family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina when he was still a young child. Jordan has two older brothers, one older sister, and one younger sister. As a teenager he was the only one of his siblings who did not maintain a steady job and could have been viewed as the least likely to succeed. Michael was not very focused academically until he reached high school. Various suspensions, and trouble in general during his freshman year of high school allowed him to mature. He attended Emsley A. Laney High School, where he evolved into a B+ student and a three-sport star in football (at quarterback), baseball, and basketball. He was cut from his varsity basketball team during his sophomore year because at 5′11″ he was deemed to be underdeveloped, but over the summer he grew four inches and practiced even harder. Over his next two varsity years, he would average 25 points per game. He began focusing more on basketball, practicing every morning before school with his high school varsity coach. He was selected to the McDonald's All-American Team as a senior.
Jordan earned a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he majored in geography. As a freshman, Jordan was an exciting, but not dominant, player. Nonetheless, he made the game winning shot in the 1982 NCAA Basketball Championship game against Georgetown, which was led by future NBA rival Patrick Ewing. After winning the Naismith College Player of the Year award in 1984, he left school early to enter the NBA Draft, and was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the first round as the 3rd pick overall, after Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie of the Portland Trail Blazers. Although Olajuwon developed into a Hall of Fame caliber player and won two NBA Championships, the selection of Bowie over Jordan is generally considered to be the worst draft blunder of all time.
Jordan played thirteen seasons for the Bulls and two seasons with the Wizards, generally used as a shooting guard, his height of 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), skills, and physical conditioning also made him a versatile threat at point guard and small forward. He won six NBA Championships (1991-1993 and 1996-1998) and was league MVP five times (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996 and 1998). He was also named Rookie of the Year (1985) and Defensive Player of the Year (1988), and won the Finals MVP award every year the Bulls reached the Finals. He also earned the elusive MVP Triple Crown (regular season, Finals, All-Star Game) twice, in 1996 and 1998. Only Willis Reed (1970) and Shaquille O'Neal (2000) have won all three MVP awards in the same season. In 1997, he also recorded the only triple-double in an All-Star game.
Jordan's coach for most of his career was Phil Jackson, who said:
"The thing about Michael is he takes nothing for granted. When he first came into the league in 1984, he was primarily a penetrator. His outside shooting wasn't up to professional standards. So he put in his gym time in the off-season, shooting hundreds of shots each day. Eventually, he became a deadly three-point shooter."
Early NBA Career
After scoring 16 points in his first NBA game, Jordan took the league by storm in his rookie year, scoring 40 or more points seven times en route to a 28.2 points-per-game season. He also averaged 6.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, and 2.4 steals per game. He revived interest in a floundering Bulls franchise, received a spot on the All-Star team, and won the Rookie of the Year award.
In the third game of the 1985-1986 NBA season, Jordan broke a bone in his foot and missed all but 18 games. Upon his return, as advised by team doctors Jordan was restricted to a limited number of minutes per game by Coach Stan Albeck and General Manager Jerry Krause. Jordan disagreed with this decision and this soured his relationship with Krause for the rest of his career, as he felt that Krause was intentionally trying to lose games in order to gain a better pick in the NBA draft. In spite of Jordan's injury, the Bulls still managed to make the playoffs, where they were defeated in three games by the eventual champion Boston Celtics. The series is best remembered for Jordan's 63 points in Game 2, an NBA playoff single game scoring record that still stands. After the game, Larry Bird observed that it was "God disguised as Michael Jordan".
The following season established Jordan as one of the best players in the league. Jordan scored 50 or more points eight times during the regular season, won his first scoring title with a 37.1 points-per-game average, and became the only player besides Wilt Chamberlain to score 3,000 points in a season. He finished runner-up to Magic Johnson in MVP voting. The playoffs ended for the Bulls as they did the year before, in a three-game sweep by the Celtics.
Jordan dunking in a slam dunk contest.
In his fourth season, Jordan averaged 35 PPG, 5.5 RPG, and 5.9 APG, won his first MVP award and the Defensive Player of the Year award (garnering 259 steals and 131 blocks, unusually high for a guard), was named MVP of the All-Star Game, and won his second consecutive Slam Dunk Contest with a dunk from the free throw line. Jordan's Bulls got out of the first round for the first time, beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games (with Jordan averaging 45.2 points per game during the series) before losing in five games to the eventual Eastern Conference champion Detroit Pistons.
In 1988-89, Jordan averaged 32.5 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists per game while finishing second in the MVP voting. He established himself as one of the NBA's great clutch performers with a last-second dagger over Craig Ehlo in Game 5 in the first round of the playoffs. The Bulls, fueled by the emergence of Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant as starters, defeated the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference semi-finals before losing to the Pistons in the Conference Finals.
The Pistons, with their punishing, physical play, established a plan for playing against Jordan, dubbed "The Jordan Rules": double- and triple-teaming him every time he touched the ball, preventing him from going to the baseline, hammering him when he drove to the basket, and forcing him to rely on his inexperienced teammates.
Coach Phil Jackson took over the team in the 1989-90 season, in which Jordan averaged 33.6 points, 6.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, and finishing third place in the MVP voting. The Bulls lost to the Pistons in seven games in the Conference Finals.
The first three-peat
In the 1990-91 season, Michael Jordan, motivated by the team's narrow defeat against the Pistons a year earlier, finally bought into Jackson and assistant coach Tex Winter's triangle offense after years of resistance. That year, he won his second MVP award after averaging 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.5 assists per game for the regular season, and the Bulls finished in first place for the first time in 16 years. With Scottie Pippen developing into an All-Star, the Bulls proved too strong for their Eastern Conference competition. The Bulls defeated the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Detroit Pistons en route to defeating Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers who were without both #2 scorer and future Hall of Fame inductee James Worthy, and #3 scorer Byron Scott in the NBA Finals. In what would be an enduring video clip, Jordan changed hands midair while completing a layup. Jordan won his first NBA Finals MVP award unanimously, and famously wept while holding his first NBA Finals trophy.
Jordan and the Bulls continued their dominance in the 1991-1992 season, finishing with a 67-15 record. Jordan won his second consecutive MVP award with a 30.1/6.4/6.1 season. After winning a physical 7-game series over the burgeoning New York Knicks in the second round and finishing off the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Conference Finals in 6 games, the Bulls faced off against Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers in the Finals. The media, hoping to recreate a Magic-Bird type rivalry in a Jordan-Drexler/"Air" Jordan vs. Clyde "The Glide" rivalry, compared the two throughout the pre-Finals hype. Perhaps motivated by what he felt was a comparison to an inferior player, Jordan responded by draining six 3-pointers and scoring 35 points in the first half of Game 1. The Bulls would go on to win the game, and then wrapped up the series in six games. Because of his dominating performance, Jordan was named Finals MVP for the second year in a row.
In 1992-93, despite a 32.6/6.7/5.5 campaign, Jordan's streak of consecutive MVP seasons ended as he lost the award to his friend Charles Barkley. Fittingly, though, Jordan and the Bulls would end up meeting Barkley and his Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals, in a match-up dubbed as "Altitude vs. Attitude". Michael's perceived slighting in the MVP balloting only fueled his competitive fire. The Bulls would capture their third consecutive NBA championship on a game-winning shot by John Paxson and a last-second block by Horace Grant, but Jordan was once again Chicago's catalyst. He averaged a Finals-record 41.0 PPG during the six-game series, and in the process became the first player in NBA history to win three straight Finals MVPs. With the Finals triumph, Jordan capped off what may have been the most spectacular seven-year run by an athlete ever, but there were signs that Jordan was tiring of his massive celebrity and all of the non-basketball hassles in his life.
In October 1993, Jordan announced his retirement, citing a lost desire to play the game. Many speculate that the murder of his father, James Jordan, in July 1993 factored into his decision. However, those close to Jordan claim that he was strongly considering retirement as early as the summer of 1992, and that the added exhaustion of the Dream Team run only solidified Michael's burned-out feelings regarding the game and his ever-growing celebrity. In any case, Jordan's announcement sent shockwaves throughout the NBA and appeared on the front pages of newspapers around the world. Not since Jim Brown's sudden retirement from the NFL in 1966 had such a dominant athlete walked away from the game at the peak of his abilities.
After retiring from basketball, Jordan spent the next year pursuing a childhood dream: professional baseball. He signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox of the American League (AL), reported to spring training, and was assigned to the team's minor league system. He had an unspectacular professional baseball career for the Birmingham Barons, a Chicago White Sox farm team, batting .202 with 3 HR, 51 RBI, 30 SB (tied for fifth in Southern League), 11 errors and 6 outfield assists. He led the club with 11 bases-loaded RBI and 25 RBI with runners in scoring position and two outs.
The Bulls without Jordan
In the 1993-94 season, the Jordan-less Bulls notched a surprising 55-27 record (only two fewer wins than the prior championship season, and the 3rd-best in the Eastern Conference). However, the team would ultimately lose to the Knicks in the second round of the playoffs.
With an aging nucleus and a dearth of quality role players (a problem compounded by the free agency loss of power forward Horace Grant before the season), the 1994-95 version of the Bulls seemed like a mere shell of the championship squad of just two years earlier. Struggling at mid-season to even ensure a spot in the playoffs, Chicago needed a lift. The lift came when Michael Jordan called up Bulls guard B.J. Armstrong in early 1995 to go out for breakfast, a meal that led to an impromptu shoot-around, and eventually to Jordan's return to the NBA for the Bulls.
"I'm back": Jordan's Return to the NBA
Jordan's underwhelming performances in baseball, and the professional baseball players' strike of 1994, prompted him to consider rejoining the Bulls. On September 9, 1994, he scored 52 points in a charity basketball game set up by Scottie Pippen (which also happened to be the final basketball game held at the Chicago Stadium), showing that he could still be dominant. Later, on March 18, 1995, Jordan announced his return to the NBA through a two-word press release: "I'm back." The next day, Jordan donned jersey number 45 (his number with the Barons), as his familiar 23 had been retired in his honor during his first retirement, and took the court with the Bulls to face the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis, scoring 19 points in a Bulls loss.
Although Jordan hadn't played in an NBA game in one-and-a-half years, he played well upon his return, which included another of his trademark game-winning jumpers (against Atlanta in his fourth game back), and a 55-point outburst against the Knicks on March 29, 1995. He led the Bulls to a 9-1 record in April of that year, propelling the team into the playoffs. The Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Orlando Magic that season, and Jordan averaged 31.5 points per game in the series, but Orlando prevailed in six games. After Orlando's Nick Anderson declared after the game that "He didn't look like the old Michael Jordan," an extra-motivated Jordan began wearing his old number (23) again. This action was an attempt to recapture his mystique and dominance, but all it succeeded in doing was incur fines from the NBA because the Bulls failed to notify the league in advance of the number change.
The second three-peat
Freshly motivated by the playoff defeat, Jordan trained aggressively for the 1995-96 season. Strengthened by the addition of rebounder extraordinaire Dennis Rodman, the Bulls dominated the league, finishing 72-10: the best season record in NBA history. Jordan won the league's regular season and All-Star Game MVP awards. In the playoffs, the Bulls lost only three games in four series, defeating the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA Finals to win the championship. Jordan was named Finals MVP for the fourth time, surpassing Magic Johnson.
In the 1996-97 season, Jordan led the Bulls to a 69-13 record. However this year, he was bested by Karl Malone for the NBA MVP Award. The team again advanced to the Finals, where they faced Malone and the Utah Jazz. The series against the Jazz featured two of the more memorable clutch efforts of Jordan's career. He won Game 1 for the Bulls with a buzzer-beating jump shot. In Game 5, with the series tied 2-2, Jordan scored 38 points (including the game-deciding three-pointer with less than a minute remaining) despite being feverish and dehydrated from a stomach virus. The Bulls won 90-88 and went on to win the series in six games. For the fifth time in as many Finals appearances, Jordan received the Finals MVP award.
Jordan and the Bulls compiled a 62-20 record in the 1997-98 season. Jordan led the league with 28.7 points per game, securing his fifth regular-season MVP award, plus honors for All-NBA First Team, First Defensive Team and the All-Star Game MVP. The Bulls won the Eastern Conference playoffs for a third straight year, moving on to face the Jazz again in the Finals.
After going 3-2 and the first five games, the Bulls returned to Utah for game 6. In Game 6, he trumped his courageous feats in the Finals a year earlier with a series of plays that may form the greatest clutch performance in NBA Finals history. With the Bulls trailing 86-83 with less than a minute remaining, Jackson called a timeout. Jordan received the inbounds pass, drove to the basket, and hit a layup over several Jazz defenders, which cut Utah's lead to 86-85. The Jazz brought the ball upcourt and passed the ball to forward Karl Malone, who was set up in the low post and was being guarded by Rodman. Malone jostled with Rodman and caught the pass, but Jordan cut behind him and swatted the ball out of his hands for a steal. Jordan then slowly dribbled upcourt and paused at the top of the key, eyeing his defender, Jazz guard Bryon Russell. With fewer than 10 seconds remaining, Jordan started to dribble right, crossed over to his left while pushing Russell with his left hand, then released a shot that would be rebroadcast countless times in years to come. As the shot found the net, announcer Bob Costas shouted "Chicago with the lead!" After a desperation three-point shot by John Stockton missed, Jordan and the Bulls had won their sixth NBA championship, and secured a second three-peat. Once again, Jordan was voted the Finals' MVP, having led all scorers by averaging more than 30 points per game, including 45 in the deciding Game 6. Jordan's six Finals MVPs are twice as many as any other player; Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, and Tim Duncan are tied for second place with three apiece.
Jordan's Game 6 heroics seemed to be a perfect ending to his career. With Phil Jackson's contract expiring, the pending departure of Scottie Pippen (who stated his desire to be traded during the season), and in the latter stages of an owner-induced lockout of NBA players, Jordan retired again on January 13, 1999. At his second retirement press conference, he paid tribute to a Chicago Police officer slain on duty just days before.
On January 19, 2000, Jordan returned to the NBA not as a player, but as part owner and President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards. His responsibilities with the club were to be comprehensive, as he was in charge of all aspects of the team, including personnel decisions. Less than a month later, Jordan won four ESPY Awards at the annual ceremony: Athlete of the Century; Male Athlete of the 1990s; Pro Basketball Player of the 1990s; and Play of the Decade, for the famous shot against the Lakers in the 1991 Finals in which Jordan switched the ball from his right to his left hand in mid-air. If Michael Jordan was out of basketball, it was certainly hard to tell.
Opinions of Jordan as an executive were mixed. He managed to purge the team of several highly-paid, unpopular players (like forward Juwan Howard and point guard Rod Strickland), but his lasting legacy as GM of the Wizards will probably be his selection of high school prospect Kwame Brown with the first pick in the 2001 NBA Draft, a move that has been roundly criticized in hindsight.
Jordan with the Washington Wizards.
Despite his January 1999 claim that he was "99.9 percent certain" that he would never play another NBA game, Jordan began making noises in the summer of 2001 that he may be interested in another comeback, this time with his new team. Inspired by the similar comeback of NHL star (and Jordan's friend) Mario Lemieux the previous winter, Jordan spent much of the spring and summer of 2001 in training, holding several invitation-only camps for NBA players in Chicago. In addition, Jordan hired his old Chicago Bulls head coach, Doug Collins, as Washington's coach for the upcoming season, a decision that many saw as foreshadowing for another Jordan return. With the season quickly approaching, 0.1 percent odds had never looked so good.
Still, Jordan wasn't making any promises. In a September 10, 2001 press conference, he strongly hinted at a comeback, but refused to confirm the rumors that had been swirling around him for the past month. But if Jordan wasn't sure on September 10 whether he would return to action or not, the events of the next day may have sealed the deal. On September 25, 2001, two weeks to the day after the terrorist attacks that shook the nation, Jordan announced that he had stepped down from the Wizards front office and out of retirement, and that he would be donating his entire 2001-02 salary ($1 million) to victims of 9/11. When he finally hit the hardwood again, Jordan's skills were not noticeably diminished by age. In an injury-plagued 2001-02 season, he played through pain and led the team in scoring (22.9 ppg), assists (5.2 apg), and steals (1.42), almost leading the young Wizards to the playoffs in the process. Additionally, Jordan's presence resulted in 41 sellouts in 41 games at the Wizards home court, the MCI Center, as well as sellouts of nearly every road arena that he would appear in over the two years of his second comeback (in his first year back, the Wizards sold out all but three of their road games). He also helped lead the Wizards to a franchise-record nine-game winning streak from December 6 through December 26, and for a brief period was being talked about as an MVP candidate. Sadly, though, injuries ended Jordan's season after only 60 games, his least number of games played in a full season since the 1985-86 season (when he had broken his foot).
Jordan returned for the 2002-03 season newly fitted with orthotic insoles to help his knees, and, (relatively) healthy again, averaged 20 points per game. Playing in his 13th and final NBA All-Star Game in 2002-03, Jordan passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all-time leading scorer in All-Star history, one of the few records that Jordan did not own going into his second comeback. The 2002-03 season was heralded from the beginning as Jordan's final goodbye to his fans, and he did not disappoint. That year, Jordan was the only Washington player to play in all 82 games, starting in 67 of them. He averaged 20.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.5 steals per game in his final year, shot 45 percent from the field, and 82 percent from the free throw line. Even at age 40, he scored 20 or more points 42 times, 30 or more points nine times, and 40 or more points three times. On February 21, 2003, Jordan became the first 40-year-old to tally 40 points in a game, scoring 43 to lead the Wizards to an 89-86 victory over the New Jersey Nets at the MCI Center. While the attendance numbers dipped off slightly in Year Two, the Wizards remained the most-watched team in the NBA with Jordan, averaging 20,173 fans a game at MCI and 19,311 on the road. In addition, the Wizards sold out all 82 home games of the Jordan era, shattering attendance records. However, neither of Jordan's final two seasons resulted in a playoff appearance for the Wizards.
Recognizing that this would be Jordan's final season, tributes to Jordan were given in almost every arena in the NBA. In his final game at his old stomping grounds, the United Center in Chicago, Jordan received a prolonged standing ovation that Jordan himself had to interrupt (by giving an impromptu speech) because the crowd showed no signs of stopping. Out of respect for Jordan, the Miami Heat retired his #23 jersey on April 11, 2003, even though he never played for that particular team. It was the first jersey the Heat had ever retired in their then-15-year history, and it was half Wizards blue, half Bulls red (the jersey has since been replaced with an all-red Bulls jersey). An additional honor was bestowed on Jordan in his final home game at Washington, where he was honored after the game by U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who presented him with the American Flag that flew over the Pentagon on September 11, 2002. At the 2003 All-Star game, Vince Carter gave up his starting spot at shooting guard to Jordan, and the halftime ceremony was dedicated to Jordan's career, complete with a Mariah Carey musical tribute.
Philadelphia was the setting for MJ's final NBA game, on April 16, 2003. Playing limited minutes due to the game's score, Jordan still mustered 15 points despite the eventual Wizards loss. After sitting out much of the 4th quarter, Jordan re-entered the game in the final minutes after the usually hostile Philly crowd serenaded him with sustained chants of "we want Mike!" Jordan left the fans with one final moment to remember him by when, with 1:44 remaining, and at the buzzer, he sank his last two free throws, and then exited to a standing ovation which would last over three minutes.
After his third retirement, Jordan assumed that he would be able to return to his front office position of Director of Basketball Operations with the Wizards. However, his tenure in the Wizards front office had been marred by poor executive decisions, which included drafting Kwame Brown with the first pick in the 2001 draft, and may have influenced the trade of Richard "Rip" Hamiliton for Jerry Stackhouse (although Jordan was not technically Director of Basketball Operations in 2002). On May 7, 2003, Wizards owner Abe Pollin fired Jordan as Washington's president of basketball operations. The firing came as a surprise to Jordan, who said at the time, "I am shocked by this decision and by the callous refusal to offer me any justification for it." Jordan has indicated that he would be interested in a similar position with another franchise, but as of yet no team has taken him up on the offer.
Post Career and the Future
Since retirement, Jordan has kept himself busy by staying in shape, playing golf in celebrity charity tournaments, spending time with his family in Chicago, promoting his Jordan Brand clothing line, and riding motorcycles (a passion which he could not indulge in as a player, due to NBA contract restrictions). In late 2004, rumors surfaced that Jordan may return yet again to play one season alongside Shaquille O'Neal with the Miami Heat, but Jordan denied the claims, and has given no indications since that he will ever again play in the NBA.
Jordan played on two Olympic gold medal-winning American basketball teams: as a college player in the 1984 Summer Olympics, and in the 1992 Summer Olympics as a member of the original "Dream Team," with other legends such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, John Stockton, David Robinson, and Patrick Ewing. It is often rumored that Jordan influenced the U.S. Olympic Committee to keep guard Isiah Thomas off the roster due to personal differences, although Thomas' exclusion may have been more a testament to the quality of the other guards on the team. In any case, it was a star-studded roster that cruised through pool play and the medal round, restoring America to the top of the basketball world.
Jordan's basketball talent was clear from his rookie season in the NBA. His breathtaking dunks, tenacious defense and apparent ability to score at will amazed fans and opponents. After Jordan poured in 63 points against the Boston Celtics in a 1986 playoff game (still a playoff record), Celtic superstar Larry Bird famously described him as "God disguised as Michael Jordan."
Jordan led the NBA in scoring 10 seasons, tying Wilt Chamberlain for consecutive scoring titles with seven in a row, but was also a fixture on the All-NBA Defensive Team, making the roster nine times. By 1998, the season of his famous Finals-winning shot against the Jazz, he was feared throughout the league as one of the game's best clutch performers. In the regular season, Jordan was the Bulls' primary threat in the final seconds of a close game and in the playoffs, Jordan would always demand the ball at crunch time.
Michael Jordan is one of several candidates for greatest basketballer of all time, along with:
* Bill Russell, who won 11 NBA titles, eclipsing Jordan's six.
* Wilt Chamberlain, who won only 2 titles, but holds the majority of NBA statistical records (most points in a game, 100; most rebounds in a game, 55; highest season PPG average, 50.4, eclipsing Jordan's high of 37.1 PPG; highest career rebounding average, 22.9 per game) and is the only player ever to lead the NBA in scoring, rebounding and assists.
* Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also won six NBA titles and MVP awards, and is the all-time leading NBA scorer.
* Magic Johnson, who won five NBA titles and was not only a good scorer, but is also third in all-time assists behind John Stockton and Mark Jackson and could also seemingly play any position on the court well, in contrast to Jordan, who was more limited to mainly the shooting guard and small forward positions.
Those who argue in Jordan's favor say that he was a much better all-around player than Bill Russell (who was not noted as a great offensive player), won more titles and awards than both Chamberlain, Johnson and Bird and as well promoted his sport on a larger scale better than the often-aloof Abdul-Jabbar. In addition, his 11 total MVP awards (5 regular season and 6 NBA Finals) are by far the most in history. It is also worth noting that many of Jordan's contemporaries label Jordan as the greatest of all time, including Magic Johnson, who once said "there's Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us" and Isiah Thomas, who dubbed Jordan the greatest of all time following the 1998 NBA Finals.
Commentators have dubbed a number of players "the next Michael Jordan" upon their entry to the NBA, including Grant Hill, Penny Hardaway, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter, and LeBron James. Jerry Reinsdorf, chairman of the Chicago Bulls, once said regarding Jordan's jersey number, 23, these words, "For what Michael has meant to the NBA, this number could very well be retired in every arena in the league" (Jackie Robinson's No. 42 has been retired by every Major League Baseball team, and all NHL teams have done the same with Wayne Gretzky's No. 99).
Jordan was ranked #1 in SLAM magazine's Top 75 NBA Players of All Time in 2003.
Jordan is the fourth of five children. He has two older brothers, Larry and James, one older sister, Delores, and a younger sister, Roslyn. He married Juanita Jordan in September 1989, and they have two sons, Jeffrey and Marcus, and a daughter, Jasmine. Michael and Juanita filed for divorce on January 4, 2002, citing irreconcilable differences, but reconciled shortly thereafter.
Jordan's son Jeffrey, is a mid-level high school recruit who will graduate in 2007.
Jordan's father, James, was murdered on July 23, 1993, at a highway rest area in Lumberton, North Carolina, by Daniel Green and Larry Martin Demery, who were caught after being traced from calls the pair made on James Jordan's cellular phone. Both assailants were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Jordan's brother James R. Jordan is the Command Sergeant Major of the 35th Signal Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps in the U.S. Army. James gained certain celebrity when he announced, at the age of forty-seven, that he intended to stay in the Army to deploy with his unit to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Jordan is a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity and has the omega letter (Ω) tattooed on his chest.
Jordan is a notorious cigar smoker, often seen with a cigar in the locker room during championship celebrations.
Jordan is one of the most marketed sports figures in history. He has been a major spokesman for such brands as Nike, Gatorade, Hanes, McDonald's, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac and MCI. He first appeared on Wheaties boxes in 1988, and acted as their spokesman as well.
Nike created a signature shoe for him, called the Air Jordan. The hype and demand for the shoes even brought on a spat of "shoe-jackings" where young boys were robbed of their sneakers at gunpoint. The innovation of designer Tinker Hatfield spurred the basketball shoe industry to new heights. Subsequently Nike spun off the Jordan line into its own company named appropriately the "Jordan Brand." Athletes who endorse the company include basketball players such as Ray Allen, Michael Finley, Derek Anderson, Eddie Jones, Mike Bibby, Quentin Richardson, Richard Hamilton, and Carmelo Anthony. The "Jordan Brand" has branched out into other sports, with baseball players Derek Jeter and Andruw Jones and football players Marvin Harrison, Ahman Green, Jason Taylor, as well as boxer Roy Jones Jr., AMA Superstock & Supersport racer Montez Stewart, and jazz musician Mike Phillips as endorsers. The brand has also sponsored college sports programs such as those of North Carolina, Cincinnati, Cal, St. John's, Georgetown, and North Carolina A & T.
Beginning in 1991, Jordan appeared in ProStars, an NBC Saturday morning cartoon. The show featured Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Bo Jackson fighting crime and helping children.
Jordan has also been connected with the Looney Tunes cartoon characters. A Nike commercial in the 1993 Super Bowl where he and Bugs Bunny played basketball against some Martians inspired the 1996 live action/animated movie Space Jam, which starred Michael and Bugs in a fictional story set during his first retirement. They have subsequently appeared together in several commercials for MCI.
After his second retirement, Jordan formed the MVP.com sports apparel enterprise with fellow sports greats Wayne Gretzky and John Elway in 1999. It fell victim to the dot-com bust, and the rights to the domain were sold to CBS SportsLine in 2001.
For many years, Jordan has been the real-life mascot for Nestlé Crunch, appearing on the products and in their advertising.
* NBA Most Valuable Player Award: 1987-88, 1990-91, 1991-92, 1995-96, 1997-98
* NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award: 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98
* NBA All-Star MVP Award: 1988, 1996, 1998
* NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award: 1987-88
* NBA Rookie of the Year Award: 1984-85
* Naismith College Player of the Year: 1984
* John R. Wooden Award: 1984
* Adolph Rupp Trophy: 1984
* ACC Men's Basketball Player of the Year: 1983-84
* Two NBA All-Star Dunk Contest Championships: 1987, 1988