50 Years ago, on Sunday, February 17, the great one was born. No, not that great one, last time I checked Wayne Gretzky couldn’t dunk from the free-throw line. That, takes the skill of a mad man; of a driven athlete; a motivator, the skill of a “Space Jam” character, the skill of Michael freaking Jordan.
During his early high school basketball years, he was deemed too short to play for the varsity team in his sophomore year. Through self motivation and drive he became a player for the junior varsity team, where he averaged about 40 points per game. In 1981, he joined the University of North Carolina, earning a full scholarship and majoring in cultural geography (or was it baseball?). During his second year, he made the winning jump shot against Patrick Ewing, and Georgetown to win the 1982 NCAA Championship. Jordan later said that was the turning point in his basketball career. In 1986, Jordan completed his degree.
The Chicago Bulls selected Michael with the third overall pick, he was selected after Sam Bowie, and Hakeem Olajuwon. He was given the cold shoulder by the veterans in the 1987 All Star game, because of all the attention he was given, especially being the cover model for ‘Sports Illustrated’ with the title “A Star is Born” just a month into his professional career. He averaged around 29 points per game, and was crowned the ‘Rookie of the Year’.
In 1987-1990, Jordan was averaging 33 ppg, while winning his first league MVP award and the Defensive Player of the Year in 1987. In 1988-89 season, the Bulls advanced to the Eastern Conference finals. A career highlight for Jordan was a buzzer beater shot over Cleveland Cavalier Craig Ehlo.
In the 1989-1990 season, players Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant joined Jordan; they were also under the guidance of new coach Phil Jackson. They again advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, and losing in game seven. During the three consecutive seasons, the Bulls lost to Isiah Thomas and the “Bad Boys”, the Detroit Pistons.
He is by far one of the most impressive basketball players to ever set foot on the court. In his basketball career, he won many awards, like 2x Olympic gold medals (1984,1992), 6x NBA Championships and NBA Finals MVP trophies, 5x NBA MVP trophies, 10x NBA Scoring Titles, 3x Steals Leader and Minutes Leader, 14x NBA All-Star, 3x NBA All-Star MVP, 11x All-NBA Selections, 9x All Defensive First Team Selection, 2x NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champ (1987,1988), and he was elected to the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
“There’s Michael Jordan, than there is the rest of us!” – Magic Johnson
Michael Jordan set a record in his second season 1985-1986 playoff series against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 with a 63 point game. This record is still unbeaten to his day. (The Celtics swept the Bulls in a series sweep)
In 1986-87 season, Jordan became the first player in NBA history to record 200 steals, and 100 blocks in a season, he also joined Wilt Chamberlain in the record books with a 3,000 point season, averaging 37.1 points per game with a 48.2% shooting rate,
He is ranked No.1 by SLAM Magazine’s Top 50 Players of All Time
Jordan starred in the film “Space Jam” in 1996, starring Bill Murray, Wayne Knight, and the Looney Tunes Characters. This film also featured the talent of players: Larry Bird, Del Harris, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson, and Muggsy Bogues. (Favorite movie of all time)
He is ranked No. 1 by ESPN Sportscentury’s Top 100 Athletes of the 20th Century.
Jordan has two sons, Jeffrey Michael, and Marcus James; he also has a daughter named Jasmine, with ex-wife Juanita Vanoy.
He is/was a spokesperson for Nike, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Gatorade, McDonald’s, Ball Park Franks, Wheaties, Hanes, and MCi.
Jordan has his own signature shoe, called Air Jordan. Many American university and college sports programs such as North Carolina, Cincinnati, and Cal, all use his brand.
In 2009, Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. He selected a North Carolina State grad, David Thompson to introduce him, it turns out he was never a fan of the Tar Heels, while growing up in North Carolina. Former teammates Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Charles Oakley, Ron Harper, and Steve Kerr were in attendance.
Michael Jordan owns the Charlotte Bobcats, one of the worst teams in the NBA, mostly since he acquired them in 2010. He is thinking about reinstating the name the Hornets.