Jordan, Michael Jeffrey
Michael Jeffrey Jordan. (Image by Joshua Massel, CC)

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Jordan, Michael 1963–

Michael Jordan 1963

Professional basketball player

A Slow Starter

Talent, Desire, Success

Life in a Fishbowl

Personal Tragedy and Its Aftermath

Announced Retirement in October of 1993

Sources

Michael Jordan needs no introduction anywhere in the world. Prior to his retirement in 1998, he was one of the highest paid and certainly one of the best-known athletes in the history of organized sports. The intensely competitive guard for the Chicago Bulls dominated the National Basketball Association (NBA) for over a decade, leading his team to six national championships in just eight years in the 1990s. Sports Illustrated contributor Jack McCallum called Jordan unquestionably the most famous athlete on the planet and one of its most famous citizens of any kind, a sportsman who has surpassed every standard by which we gauge the fame of an athlete and, with few exceptions, has handled the adulation with a preternatural grace and ease that have cut across lines of race, age and gender. Gentlemans Quarterly correspondent David Breskin likewise characterized Jordan as the most admired, idolized and moneyed team-sport hero in the entire American-hero business. Breskin added: For some folks he has come to represent Americaas in, we may not make cars or televisions too well, but we turn out a helluva Michael Jordan.

Even those people who have never watched a moment of professional basketball recognize Jordan. The athlete has made a fortune in commercial endorsements of products such as Nikes Air Jordan footwear, Wheaties cereal, and McDonalds hamburgers. The combination of Jordans natural charm and his extraordinary basketball prowess have brought the likable star an estimated $35 million a year in revenues. As David Halberstam put it in Sports Illustrated, Jordan is the first super-athlete of the satellite age, the first professional player to benefit on a grand scale from a global audience for his talents and his products. Jordan has created a kind of fame that exceeds sports, wrote Halberstam. He is both athlete and entertainer. He plays in the age of the satellite to an audience vastly larges than was possible in the past and is thus the first great athlete of the wired world.

A Slow Starter

Michael Jordan was born February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York, while his father was stationed there briefly on business. The fourth of five children, Michael has two brothers and two sisters. While he was still

At a Glance

Born Michael Jeffrey Jordan, February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, NY; raised in Wilmington, NC; son of James (a former equipment supervisor for General Electric and a retail business owner) and Delores (Peoples) Jordan; married Juanita Vanoy, 1989; children: Jeffrey, Marcus, Jasmine. Education: Attended University of North Carolina, 1981-84.

Career: Professional basketball player, 1984-93, 1995-98. Drafted third in first round of 1984 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by Chicago Bulls; member of Chicago Bulls, 1984-93, 1995-98; minor-league baseball player, Birmingham Barons, 1994-95; also endorses a number of products/corporations in television commercials, including Nike, Wheaties, Gatorade, Wilson Sporting Goods, Hanes, Ball Park Franks, and McDonalds; owner of Chicago eatery Michael Jordans; The Restaurant; founder, Michael Jordan Foundation; author of text to the photographic biography Rare Air: Michael on Michael, published by Collins Publishers San Francisco, November 4, 1993.

Selected awards: Recipient of gold medal for basketball at Olympic Games, 1984, 1992, 1996; named NBA Rookie of the Year, 1985; member of NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Team, 1985, 1987-93, 1996-98; NBA scoring leader 1984, 1986-93; named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 1988; named NBA League Most Valuable Player, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1996; named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated, 1991; named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995; selected as one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history, 1996; Sporting News, number one on list of 100 Most Powerful People in Sports, 1997.

Addresses: Publisher Collins Publishers San Francisco, 50 Osgood PI., Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94133.

young, his family moved back to their hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, where his father worked as a supervisor at a General Electric plant. Everyone in the Jordan family worked hardeveryone, that is, except Michael. I could not keep regular hours. It just wasnt me, Jordan told Gentlemans Quarterly. Michael threw all of his energies into sports, playing baseball and basketball with the same intensity that his parents and siblings devoted to their work. He said that he began playing with his tongue sticking out because his father would stick his tongue out whenever concentrating on a task.

Neither of Jordans parents were tall, nor were his brothers and sisters beyond average height. Michael himself seemed destined to be short, an unlikely candidate for the professional basketball career he dreamed about. In backyard games with his friends and brothers, he tried to compensate for his height by playing harder; thus was born his fierce desire to win, especially against the odds.

As a freshman at Wilmingtons Laney High School, Jordan tried out for the varsity basketball team and was cut. The next year he was cut again soon after the season began, while his best friend, Leroy Smith, made the team. Jordan told Readers Digest that when he discovered he had been dropped from the varsity again, I went through the day numb. After school, I hurried home, closed the door to my room and cried so hard. It was all I wantedto play on that team. He added: Its probably good that it happened. It made me know what disappointment felt like. And I knew that I didnt want that feeling ever again.

Between his sophomore and junior years of high school, Jordan added several inches to his height. Almost overnight he grew from five feet eleven inches to six feet three inches. By the time he was a senior he stood at six feet six. Needless to say, he finally earned his berth on the varsity squad andwith his burning ambitions in towhe became one of the most widely-recruited high school athletes in the country. He accepted a full scholarship to the University of North Carolina. Everybody in Wilmington expected me to go to North Carolina, sit on the bench for four years, then go back to Wilmington and work at the local gas station, he told Gentlemans Quarterly.

Talent, Desire, Success

Michael Jordan never warmed the bench at the University of North Carolina. He was a starter for the Tar Heels from the first game of his freshman year. He became a national celebrity later that season when he sank a winning fifteen-foot jump shot in the final seconds of the 1982 NCAA Championship. Teammates and fans nicknamed him Superman and Last Shot, and he was voted Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year.

To this day Jordan remembers his years at the University of North Carolina fondly. He had a special rapport with Tar Heels coach Dean Smith, and many of the friends he made there are still his closest companions today. He spent two more seasons on the UNC team and was named Ail-American in 1983 and 1984 and Sporting News college player of the year in 1983. After a disappointing 1983-84 campaign in which he led the Tar Heels to an Atlantic Coast Conference championship but bowed in the NCAA tournament, Jordan was named co-captain of the 1984 United States Olympic basketball team. In Los Angeles in the summer of 1984, Jordan was one of the leaders on an Olympic team that gracefully captured the gold medal.

Against his parents wishes, Jordan decided to go professional in 1984. He was drafted third in the first round of the 1984 NBA draft by the struggling Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were limping through a decade of lackluster performance and were searching for an athlete who could galvanize the team as a player and a leader. Jordan fit the bill perfectly. In his first professional season he led the NBA in points and was chosen rookie of the year. Even though the Bulls still continued to struggle, attendance at home games leaped 87 percent as word of the rookie phenomenon spread. Nor was Jordan merely a local hero. In every NBA city, attendance rose dramatically when the Chicago Bulls came to town.

A foot injury sidelined Jordan for most of the 1985-86 campaign. At the very end of the season he convinced the Bulls coach and owner to allow him to play. With his help the team surged to win a trip to the playoffs, in which the Bulls met the Boston Celtics with their popular star, Larry Bird. The Celtics had little trouble defeating the Bulls in the playoff series, but Jordan scored 49 points in Game One and 63 points in Game Two. An astounded Larry Bird quipped that the new star in Chicago was God disguised as Michael Jordan.

Jordan combined several highly regarded American commodities: good looks, phenomenal athletic ability, andperhaps most importantlya clean, scandal-free image. Advertisers were quick to court the young star for commercial endorsements of products. One of the first companies to seek Jordans help was Nike, makers of athletic clothing and footwear. For Jordan the company designed a whole new line of shoes, Air Jordans, taking their name from the players uncanny ability to hang four feet above the ground as he took shots during games. The Air Jordan line put an end to Nikes sagging sneaker sales, earning an estimated $130 million in the first year of sales. Jordan pocketed a share of the profits for this venture. Other endorsement contracts were signed with McDonalds, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, and Wheaties cereal, as well as numerous smaller businesses in the Chicago area.

Life in a Fishbowl

Many athletes have found that their on-court skills have been eroded when the demands of commercial endorsements and the crush of fame descend upon them. Jordan only seemed to get stronger. As the Bulls were rebuilt around him with a group of hungry young players, he continued to lead the NBA in scoring and often landed on the all-defensive first team as well. Breskin wrote: The truly revolutionary aspect of Jordans brilliance is that although he possesses the most extravagant, high-cholesterol game in the history of the sport, its as controlled as it is wild and as thoughtful as it is free. There has never been such a spectacular player who was also so disciplined, so fundamentally sound. There has never been such a gifted offensive player who worked so hard, and so well, on the defensive end of the court.

Few questioned Jordans ability, but as the 1980s progressed, naysayers pointed out that basketballs newest superstar was unable to take his team to the NBA finals. One shadow that remained over the athletes career was the notion that great players who never win a title are somehow less great than those who dohat truly brilliant players will wring the best possible performance out of mediocre teammates. Jordan was saddled with this burden of proving himself as the Bulls were eliminated at various steps in the playoffs throughout the remainder of the 1980s. A particularly frustrating opposing team in this regard was the Detroit Pistons, who devised a whole scheme to undermine Jordans productiveness during games.

Gradually the personnel around Jordan improved, however, and the Bulls began to assert themselves as a team. In 1991 the long-awaited NBA championship was finally achieved in a four-games-to-one victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. McCallum noted in Sports Illustrated: To many NBA observers, the Bulls had to win it all before Jordan could conclusively prove that he was more than a high-flying sideshow or a long, loud ring of the cash register. They did. And so he did. Any questions about Jordans greatness were dispelled in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons as the Bulls became the first team in thirty years to win three consecutive NBA Championships. In 1992 the Bulls defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, in 1993 the Phoenix Suns. Jordan played almost nonstop in each and every championship series. Not only did he dominate the NBA, he also managed to lead the first-ever United States Olympic mens basketball team manned by professionals. The Dream Team easily grabbed the gold medal in the 1992 Olympic Games-just weeks after Jordans Bulls had won a second NBA championship. Jordan repeated this feat at the 1996 Olympic games.

After the Bulls beat the Suns in six games for the 1993 NBA championship, McCallum asked in Sports Illustrated: Is Michael Jeffrey Jordan simply the best basketball player in the history of the planet? You know the answer to that question: yes. A resounding yes. Jordan made history as the only athlete ever named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player three consecutive times. He is the only player besides Wilt Chamberlain ever to score 3,000 points in a season and the only player in history to score 50 or more points in five playoff games.

Everything has its price, though. For Jordan, the adoration of basketball fans worldwide and an unprecedented level of fame for an athlete brought a multitude of problems. Negative publicity began in the 1980s when teenagers began to use violent means to obtain Air Jordan sneakers costing in excess of $100 a pair. Jordan also had to defend himself against accusations of compulsive gambling on golf and card games. Twice the NBA investigated Jordans gambling activities. In 1991 he admitted betting more than $50,000 on golf games played with James Slim Bouler, who has since been convicted of selling cocaine. During the 1993 NBA Finals, a San Diego businessman named Richard Esquinas alleged in a self-published book that Jordan owed him $1.25 million in the wake of a ten-day golf gambling binge. Jordan claimed that he never bet anything near a million dollars on a golf game and that he merely gambles as recreation. Both times the NBA supported Jordan, but some critics claim that the investigations were soft because Jordan was such a powerful box office draw in the league.

The implications of any lasting scandal were obvious: Jordan could have lost his lucrative endorsement contracts while still being hounded mercilessly by the press and his fans. Since 1985 Jordan endured great restrictions on his movementshe was and is recognized, and mobbed, everywhere he goes in public. Following the gambling uproar, he faced the task of defending his reputation against those who would characterize him as out of control. McCallum is one reporter who has noticed the change wrought by this lifestyle that is akin to living in a fishbowl: Gone is much of the spontaneous joy that Jordan brought to the game in 1984, when he entered the league with a head of hair, a pair of North Carolina shorts beneath his Bulls uniform and a boyish appetite for fame and glory. somewhere amid all the adulation and pressure, a spark went out of Jordanone that, it seems, will never return.

Personal Tragedy and Its Aftermath

The Jordan family faced tragedy in the summer of 1993 when Michaels father, James, was brutally murdered in North Carolina. Jordan fought tears and tried to dodge the press during his fathers funeral and the subsequent police investigation that uncovered two teenage suspects and an apparent motive of car theft. His fathers untimely death was yet another severe blow to Jordan, who had for some time contemplated retiring from the NBA in 1996. Just months before the murder, Jordan told People that he wanted to put an end to the strange, isolated existence he leads in an effort to avoid the media glare and the demands of flocks of fans. I feel Im at the stage of my career when its tough to move up, he said. I can only maintain and be consistent. Ive set such high standards. You lose a bit of the joy as you move on.

A bit of the joy may be gone for Jordan, but no amount of personal pain can erase the greatness of his career. As Richard Stengel observed in Time magazine in 1991, All the commercial hype and publicity fade away when he does play, for Michael Jordan is the artwork and the artist, the poem and the poet. He reinvents the sport every time he risesand risesinto the air. Stengel concluded in the same article: Michael Jordan is now his own greatest competition. When you make the miraculous routine, the merely superb becomes ordinary.

Announced Retirement in October of 1993

Jordan had often referred to basketball as his refuge, but the combined toll of his fathers brutal murder, the media scrutiny surrounding his own gambling debts, the continuing pressures of his megastardom, and his professed feelings of having nothing left to prove on the basketball court are believed to have played a part in his decision to retire from the game at the age of 30. At a press conference held October 6, 1993, Jordan officially confirmed the rumors of his retirement from professional basketball, stating: Ive always stressed that when I lose the sense of motivation and the sense to prove something as a basketball player, its time to leave. An Associated Press wire report released the evening before the news conference quoted him as saying: Its time for me to move on to something else. I know a lot of people are going to be shocked by this decision and probably wont understand. But Im at peace with myself.

In a photobiography titled Rare Air: Michael on Michael-- which was completed during the summer of 1993, but published after the player announced his retirement-Jordan foreshadowed his decision to withdraw from the spotlight while still at the height of his career: When I leave the game, he wrote, Ill leave on top. Thats the only way Ill walk away. I dont want to leave after my feet have slowed, my hands arent as quick, or my eyesight isnt as sharp. I dont want people to remember me that way. I want people to remember me playing exactly the kind of game Im capable of playing right now. Nothing less.

The drama of Jordans departure from the NBA was further heightened by his decision to enter the world of semi-professional baseball as an outfielder. In 1994, he signed on with the Birmingham Barons, a farm team for the Chicago White Sox, in search of a new challenge to feed his competitive nature. In spite of his unimpressive performance as a baseball playerending the season with a .202 batting averageJordan attracted hordes of fans to the Barons games, and the media heavily scrutinized the athlete in his new sport.

A 1995 labor dispute between baseball players and owners delayed the start of the season and Jordan, disappointed with his attempt to make it in baseball, used the opportunity to return to the sport he loved. He added to the hype of his comeback by making a movie that summer, Space Jam, which featured Jordan and an assortment of animated characters. The film, released during the Christmas season in 1996, contributed to his ever-growing appeal as a cultural icon, as did his own signature fragrance, MJ, released at the same time.

The Bulls had only 17 games remaining in the 1994-95 basketball season when Jordan returned, and sports commentators noticed that his time off made a telling difference in his game. Jordan had been away from the court for 21 months and acknowledged that he was rusty, scoring only 19 points in his comeback game against the Indiana Pacers. Many wondered if Jordans advanced agethen 32was not also partly responsible for his diminished game. The Bulls ended the season by losing to the Orlando Magic in the conference semifinals.

Jordan used the off-season to retrain his body in the skills unique to basketball and to work on a style of play that would capitalize on his maturity. He perfected a virtually unstoppable jumpshot and proved in the 1995-96 season that his age was an asset, not a hindrance, to his game. Jeff Coplón, a writer for the New York Times Biographical Service, wrote, He has traded risk for feel, nerve for guile, spectacle for efficiencyand because he is Jordan, even his efficiency can seem spectacular. Under Jordans leadership, the Bulls had a record-breaking season, breaking the league record for the number of games won in the regular season (72-10), and beating the Seattle Supersonics for their fourth NBA championship. The year was a victorious one for Jordan on an individual level as he won the most-valuable-player awards for the regular season, the All-Star game, and the NBA finals-the first player to take all three in a single season since 1970.

The success of the 1995-96 season was repeated in the following two seasons as the Bulls maintained their dynastic hold on the NBA. As Jordan led the team to victory over the Utah Jazz in the 1997 NBA finals, and again in 1998, no one doubted that he was the key to the Bulls success. He was voted the series most valuable player in 1997, and held up his struggling team in the 1998 finals, even though he himself was battling stomach flu. His series-winning shot in the final seconds of the 1998 championship game acted as the fullest expression of Jordans drive to win, his extraordinary athletic ability, and his uncanny understanding of the game, as he overcame personal fatigue to land the winning basket in Game Six against the Utah Jazz.

That shot was to be Jordans last as a professinal basketball player, however. Jordan, who had only signed one-year contracts since his return, had kept the rumor mill busy with hints regarding his upcoming retirement. After the 1997-98 season, Jordan stated to the press on many occasions that he would retire if Bulls coach Phil Jackson left the team, and Jacksons departure seemed imminent. An NBA lock-out over a labor dispute between players and coaches in 1998 further jeopardized Jordans return for another year. When the players and coaches reached an agreement to hold a shortened NBA season in January of 1999, Jordan officially announced his retirement.

Jordans departure from the game he had come to define in no way diminished his glory as the greatest basketball player ever. A monument to this phenomenal athlete stands in front of Chicagos United Center-a 2,000-pound bronze statue which features Jordan in full flight, ready to slam dunk the ball, to the chagrin of cowering defenders. The front panel capsulizes the man: The best there ever was. The best there ever will be.

Sources

Books

Current Biography Yearbook 1997, H.W.Wilson Co., 1998.

Greene, Bob, Hang Time, Doubleday, 1992.

Jordan, Michael, Rare Air: Michael on Michael, photographed by Walter looss, Jr., edited by Mark Vancil, Collins Publishers San Francisco, 1993.

Periodicals

Associated Press wire report, October 5, 1993.

Ebony, December 1993, pp. 128-38.

Esquire, November 1990, pp. 138-216.

Forbes, May 25, 1992, p. 168.

Gentlemans Quarterly, March 1989, pp. 319-97.

Newsweek, May 29, 1989, pp. 58-60; December 4, 1989, pp. 80-81; June 14, 1993, pp. 72-74; August 23, 1993, p. 60; August 30, 1993, p. 59; October 18, 1993, pp. 65-70; October-November 1993 Collectors Issue (devoted to Jordan).

New Yorker, December 21, 1998, pp. 48-55.

New York Times Biographical Service, March 1995, pp. 438-439; April 1996, pp. 598-603.

People, May 17, 1993, pp. 82-87.

Publishers Weekly, July 26, 1993, p. 13.

Readers Digest, February 1993, pp. 79-83.

Shutterbug, December 1993, pp. 52-55.

Sports Illustrated, December 23, 1991, pp. 66-81; June 7, 1993, pp. 19-21; June 28, 1993, pp. 17-21; August 23, 1993, p. 11; October 18, 1993, pp. 28-34.

Time, June 24, 1991, p. 47; October 18, 1993, pp. 114-16.

Upscale, January 1994, pp. 28-32.

Other

Michael Jordan was profiled on Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, CBS-TV, July 15, 1993; an interview with Jordan conducted by Oprah Winfrey for Oprah, was first broadcast on ABC-TV on October 29, 1993.

Mark Kram and Rebecca Parks

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Kram, Mark; Parks, Rebecca. "Jordan, Michael 1963–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1999. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Jordan, Michael 1963–

Michael Jordan 1963

Professional basketball player

A Slow Starter

Talent, Desire, Success

Life in a Fishbowl

Personal Tragedy and Its Aftermath

Announced Retirement in October of 1993

Sources

Michael Jordan needs no introduction anywhere in the world. Prior to his retirement in 1993, he was one of the highest paid and certainly one of the best-known athletes in the history of organized sports. The intensely competitive guard for the Chicago Bulls dominated the National Basketball Association (NBA) for almost a decade, most notably in the Bulls three consecutive NBA championship years of 1991-93. Sports Illustrated contributor Jack McCallum called Jordan unquestionably the most famous athlete on the planet and one of its most famous citizens of any kind, a sportsman who has surpassed every standard by which we gauge the fame of an athlete and, with few exceptions, has handled the adulation with a preternatural grace and ease that have cut across lines of race, age and gender. Gentlemans Quarterly correspondent David Breskin likewise characterized Jordan as the most admired, idolized and moneyed team-sport hero in the entire American-hero business. Breskin added: For some folks he has come to represent Americaas in, we may not make cars or televisions too well, but we turn out a helluva Michael Jordan.

Even those people who have never watched a moment of professional basketball recognize Jordan. The athlete has made a fortune in commercial endorsements of products such as Nikes Air Jordan footwear, Wheaties cereal, and McDonalds hamburgers. The combination of Jordans natural charms and his extraordinary basketball prowess have brought the likable star an estimated $35 million a year in revenues. As David Halberstam put it in Sports Illustrated, Jordan is the first super-athlete of the satellite age, the first professional player to benefit on a grand scale from a global audience for his talents and his products. Jordan has created a kind of fame that exceeds sports, wrote Halberstam. He is both athlete and entertainer. He plays in the age of the satellite to an audience vastly larger than was possible in the past and is thus the first great athlete of the wired world.

A Slow Starter

Michael Jordan was born February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York, while his father was stationed there briefly on business. The fourth of five children, Michael has two brothers and two sisters. While he was still young, his family moved back to their hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina, where his father worked as a supervisor at a

At a Glance

Born Michael Jeffrey Jordan, February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, NY; raised in Wilmington, NC; son of James (a former equipment supervisor for General Electric and a retail business owner) and Delores (Peoples) Jordan; married Juanita Vanoy, 1989; children: Jeffrey, Marcus, Jasmine. Education: Attended University of North Carolina, 1981-84.

Professional basketball player, 1984-93. Drafted third in first round of 1984 National Basketball Association (NBA) draft by Chicago Bulls; member of Chicago Bulls, 1984-93. Also endorses a number of products/corporations in television commercials, including Nike, Wheaties, Gatorade, Wilson Sporting Goods, Hanes, Ball Park Franks, and McDonalds; owner of Chicago eatery Michael Jordans: The Restaurant. Founder, Michael Jordan Foundation. Author of text to the photographic biography Rare Air: Michael on Michael, published by Collins Publishers San Francisco, November 4, 1993.

Selected awards: Recipient of gold medal for basketball at Olympic Games, 1984 and 1992; named NBA Rookie of the Year, 1985; member of NBA Eastern Conference All-Star Team, 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992; NBA scoring leader 1984, 1986-93; named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, 1988; named NBA League Most Valuable Player, 1988, 1991, 1992; named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated, 1991; named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, 1991, 1992, 1993.

Addresses: c/o The Chicago Bulls, One Magnificent Mile, 980 North Michigan Ave., Suite 1600, Chicago, IL 60611. Publisher Collins Publishers San Francisco, 50 Osgood PI., Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94133.

General Electric plant. Everyone in the Jordan family worked hardeveryone, that is, except Michael. I could not keep regular hours. It just wasnt me, Jordan told Gentlemans Quarterly. Michael threw all of his energies into sports, playing baseball and basketball with the same intensity that his parents and siblings devoted to their work. He said that he began playing with his tongue sticking out because his father would stick his tongue out whenever concentrating on a task.

Neither of Jordans parents were tall, nor were his brothers and sisters beyond average height. Michael himself seemed destined to be short, an unlikely candidate for the professional basketball career he dreamed about. In backyard games with his friends and brothers, he tried to compensate for his height by playing harder; thus was born his fierce desire to win, especially against the odds.

As a freshman at Wilmingtons Laney High School, Jordan tried out for the varsity basketball team and was cut. The next year he was cut again soon after the season began, while his best friend, Leroy Smith, made the team. Jordan told Readers Digest that when he discovered he had been dropped from the varsity again, I went through the day numb. After school, I hurried home, closed the door to my room and cried so hard. It was all I wantedto play on that team. He added: Its probably good that it happened. It made me know what disappointment felt like. And I knew that I didnt want that feeling ever again.

Between his sophomore and junior years of high school, Jordan added several inches to his height. Almost overnight he grew from five feet eleven inches to six feet three inches. By the time he was a senior he stood at six feet six. Needless to say, he finally earned his berth on the varsity squad andwith his burning ambitions in towhe became one of the most widely-recruited high school athletes in the country. He accepted a full scholarship to the University of North Carolina. Everybody in Wilmington expected me to go to North Carolina, sit on the bench for four years, then go back to Wilmington and work at the local gas station, he told Gentlemans Quarterly.

Talent, Desire, Success

Michael Jordan never warmed the bench at the University of North Carolina. He was a starter for the Tar Heels from the first game of his freshman year. He became a national celebrity later that season when he sank a winning fifteen-foot jump shot in the final seconds of the 1982 NCAA Championship. Teammates and fans nicknamed him Superman and Last Shot, and he was voted Atlantic Coast Conference rookie of the year.

To this day Jordan remembers his years at the University of North Carolina fondly. He had a special rapport with Tar Heels coach Dean Smith, and many of the friends he made there are still his closest companions today. He spent two more seasons on the UNC team and was named Ail-American in 1983 and 1984 and Sporting News college player of the year in 1983. After a disappointing 1983-84 campaign in which he led the Tar Heels to an Atlantic Coast Conference championship but bowed in the NCAA tournament, Jordan was named co-captain of the 1984 United States Olympic basketball team. In Los Angeles in the summer of 1984, Jordan was one of the leaders on an Olympic team that gracefully captured the gold medal.

Against his parents wishes, Jordan decided to go professional in 1984. He was drafted third in the first round of the 1984 NBA draft by the struggling Chicago Bulls. The Bulls were limping through a decade of lackluster performance and were searching for an athlete who could galvanize the team as a player and a leader. Jordan fit the bill perfectly. In his first professional season he led the NBA in points and was chosen rookie of the year. Even though the Bulls still continued to struggle, attendance at home games leaped 87 percent as word of the rookie phenomenon spread. Nor was Jordan merely a local hero. In every NBA city, attendance rose dramatically when the Chicago Bulls came to town.

A foot injury sidelined Jordan for most of the 1985-86 campaign. At the very end of the season he convinced the Bulls coach and owner to allow him to play. With his help the team surged to win a trip to the playoffs, in which the Bulls met the Boston Celtics with their popular star, Larry Bird. The Celtics had little trouble defeating the Bulls in the playoff series, but Jordan scored 49 points in Game One and 63 points in Game Two. An astounded Larry Bird quipped that the new star in Chicago was God disguised as Michael Jordan.

Jordan combined several highly regarded American commodities: good looks, phenomenal athletic ability, andperhaps most importantlya clean, scandal-free image. Advertisers were quick to court the young star for commercial endorsements of products. One of the first companies to seek Jordans help was Nike, makers of athletic clothing and footwear. For Jordan the company designed a whole new line of shoes, Air Jordans, taking their name from the players uncanny ability to hang four feet above the ground as he took shots during games. The Air Jordan line put an end to Nikes sagging sneaker sales, earning an estimated $130 million in the first year of sales. Jordan pocketed a share of the profits for this venture. Other endorsement contracts were signed with McDonalds, Chevrolet, Coco-Cola, and Wheaties cereal, as well as numerous smaller businesses in the Chicago area.

Life in a Fishbowl

Many athletes have found that their on-court skills have been eroded when the demands of commercial endorsements and the crush of fame descend upon them. Jordan only seemed to get stronger. As the Bulls were rebuilt around him with a group of hungry young players, he continued to lead the NBA in scoring and often landed on the all-defensive first team as well. Breskin wrote: The truly revolutionary aspect of Jordans brilliance is that although he possesses the most extravagant, high-cholesterol game in the history of the sport, its as controlled as it is wild and as thoughtful as it is free. There has never been such a spectacular player who was also so disciplined, so fundamentally sound. There has never been such a gifted offensive player who worked so hard, and so well, on the defensive end of the court.

Few questioned Jordans ability, but as the 1980s progressed, naysayers pointed out that basketballs newest superstar was unable to take his team to the NBA finals. One shadow that remained over the athletes career was the notion that great players who never win a title are somehow less great than those who dothat truly brilliant players will wring the best possible performance out of mediocre teammates. Jordan was saddled with this burden of proving himself as the Bulls were eliminated at various steps in the playoffs throughout the remainder of the 1980s. A particularly frustrating opposing team in this regard was the Detroit Pistons, who devised a whole scheme to undermine Jordans productiveness during games.

Gradually the personnel around Jordan improved, however, and the Bulls began to assert themselves as a team. In 1991 the long-awaited NBA championship was finally achieved in a four-games-to-one victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. McCallum noted in Sports Illustrated: To many NBA observers, the Bulls had to win it all before Jordan could conclusively prove that he was more than a high-flying sideshow or a long, loud ring of the cash register. They did. And so he did. Any questions about Jordans greatness were dispelled in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons as the Bulls became the first team in thirty years to win three consecutive NBA Championships. In 1992 the Bulls defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, in 1993 the Phoenix Suns. Jordan played almost nonstop in each and every championship series. Not only did he dominate the NBA, he also managed to lead the first-ever United States Olympic mens basketball team manned by professionals. The Dream Team easily grabbed the gold medal in the 1992 Olympic Gamesjust weeks after Jordans Bulls had won a second NBA championship.

After the Bulls beat the Suns in six games for the 1993 NBA championship, McCallum asked in Sports Illustrated: Is Michael Jeffrey Jordan simply the best basketball player in the history of the planet?You know the answer to that question: yes. A resounding yes. Jordan made history as the only athlete ever named NBA Finals Most Valuable Player three consecutive times. He is the only player besides Wilt Chamberlain ever to score 3,000 points in a season and the only player in history to score 50 or more points in five playoff games.

Everything has its price, though. For Jordan, the adoration of basketball fans worldwide and an unprecedented level of fame for an athlete brought a multitude of problems. Negative publicity began in the 1980s when teenagers began to use violent means to obtain Air Jordan sneakers costing in excess of $100 a pair. More recently Jordan has had to defend himself against accusations of compulsive gambling on golf and card games. Twice the NBA has investigated Jordans gambling activities. In 1991 he admitted betting more than $50,000 on golf games played with James Slim Bouler, who has since been convicted of selling cocaine. During the 1993 NBA Finals, a San Diego businessman named Richard Esquinas alleged in a self-published book that Jordan owed him $1.25 million in the wake of a ten-day golf gambling binge. Jordan claimed that he never bet anything near a million dollars on a golf game and that he merely gambles as recreation. Both times the NBA supported Jordan, but some critics claim that the investigations were soft because Jordan was such a powerful box office draw in the league.

The implications of any lasting scandal were obvious: Jordan could have lost his lucrative endorsement contracts while still being hounded mercilessly by the press and his fans. Since 1985 Jordan endured great restrictions on his movementshe was and is recognized, and mobbed, everywhere he goes in public. Following the gambling uproar, he faced the task of defending his reputation against those who would characterize him as out of control. McCallum is one reporter who has noticed the change wrought by this lifestyle that is akin to living in a fishbowl: Gone is much of the spontaneous joy that Jordan brought to the game in 1984, when he entered the league with a head of hair, a pair of North Carolina shorts beneath his Bulls uniform and a boyish appetite for fame and glory.somewhere amid all the adulation and pressure, a spark went out of Jordanone that, it seems, will never return.

Personal Tragedy and Its Aftermath

The Jordan family faced tragedy in the summer of 1993 when Michaels father, James, was brutally murdered in North Carolina. Jordan fought tears and tried to dodge the press during his fathers funeral and the subsequent police investigation that uncovered two teenaged suspects and an apparent motive of car theft. His fathers untimely death was yet another severe blow to Jordan, who had for some time contemplated retiring from the NBA in 1996. Just months before the murder, Jordan told People that he wanted to put an end to the strange, isolated existence he leads in an effort to avoid the media glare and the demands of flocks of fans. I feel Im at the stage of my career when its tough to move up, he said. I can only maintain and be consistent. Ive set such high standards. You lose a bit of the joy as you move on.

A bit of the joy may be gone for Jordan, but no amount of personal pain can erase the greatness of his career. As Richard Stengel observed in Time magazine in 1991, All the commercial hype and publicity fade away when he does play, for Michael Jordan is the artwork and the artist, the poem and the poet. He reinvents the sport every time he risesand risesinto the air. Stengel concluded in the same article: Michael Jordan is now his own greatest competition. When you make the miraculous routine, the merely superb becomes ordinary.

Announced Retirement in October of 1993

Jordan had often referred to basketball as his refuge, but the combined toll of his fathers brutal murder, the media scrutiny surrounding his own gambling debts, the continuing pressures of his megastardom, and his professed feelings of having nothing left to prove on the basketball court are believed to have played a part in his decision to retire from the game at the age of 30. At a press conference held October 6, 1993, Jordan officially confirmed the rumors of his retirement from professional basketball, stating: Ive always stressed that when I lose the sense of motivation and the sense to prove something as a basketball player, its time to leave. An Associated Press wire report released the evening before the news conference quoted him as saying: Its time for me to move on to something else. I know a lot of people are going to be shocked by this decision and probably wont understand. ButIm at peace with myself.

In a photobiography titled Rare Air: Michael on Michael which was completed during the summer of 1993, but published after the player announced his retirementJordan foreshadowed his decision to withdraw from the spotlight while still at the height of his career: When I leave the game, he wrote, Ill leave on top. Thats the only way Ill walk away. I dont want to leave after my feet have slowed, my hands arent as quick, or my eyesight isnt as sharp. I dont want people to remember me that way. I want people to remember me playing exactly the kind of game Im capable of playing right now. Nothing less.

Yet, as Mark Starr reported in Newsweek, Jordan still has the option to unretire. Im not going to close that door, he said. I dont believe in never. But as of the fall of 1993, Jordan felt it best to hang up his Bulls uniform, spend more time with his family, and expand his business ties. Im sure there are fans who think they know what its like being a professional athlete, he wrote in Rare Air. But Im quite sure they dont know just how different our lives are and how it impacts our wives and children. I thought this was the perfect time in my career to give people an inside look at my life.

In January of 1994, Jordan provoked widespread speculation in the sports world after it was reported that he would attempt a career with professional baseballs Chicago White Sox. Jordan had played baseball through high school, but some critics doubted that he could make the jump to the major league game as a 30 year old. Nonetheless, Jordans agent confirmed in Sports Illustrated that his client had been taking batting practice for several hours a day. Jordan has unquestionably achieved greatness on the basketball court, but it appears that baseball may become the new challenge for one of the best, and best-known, athletes in the world.

Sources

Books

Greene, Bob, Hang Time, Doubleday, 1992.

Jordan, Michael, Rare Air: Michael on Michael, photographed by Walter Iooss, Jr., edited by Mark Vancil, Collins Publishers San Francisco, 1993.

Periodicals

Associated Press wire report, October 5, 1993.

Ebony, December 1993, pp. 128-38.

Esquire, November 1990, pp. 138-216.

Forbes, May 25, 1992, p. 168.

Gentlemans Quarterly, March 1989, pp. 319-97.

Newsweek, May 29, 1989, pp. 58-60; December 4, 1989, pp. 80-81; June 14, 1993, pp. 72-74; August 23, 1993, p. 60; August 30, 1993, p. 59; October 18, 1993, pp. 65-70; October-November 1993 Collectors Issue (devoted to Jordan).

People, May 17, 1993, pp. 82-87.

Publishers Weekly, July 26, 1993, p. 13.

Readers Digest, February 1993, pp. 79-83.

Shutterbug, December 1993, pp. 52-55.

Sports Illustrated, December 23, 1991, pp. 66-81; June 7, 1993, pp. 19-21; June 28, 1993, pp. 17-21; August 23, 1993, p. 11; October 18, 1993, pp. 28-34; January 17, 1994, pp. 32-35.

Time, June 24, 1991, p. 47; October 18, 1993, pp. 114-16.

Upscale, January 1994, pp. 28-32.

Michael Jordan was profiled on Eye to Eye with Connie Chung, CBS-TV, July 15, 1993; an interview with Jordan conducted by Oprah Winfrey for Oprah, was first broadcast on ABC-TV on October 29, 1993.

Mark Kram

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Kram, Mark. "Jordan, Michael 1963–." Contemporary Black Biography. 1994. Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Jordan, Michael

Michael Jordan

1963-

American basketball player

Michael Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player in the history of the game, even by some to be the greatest player of any sport. As Jerry Sloan, the coach of the Utah Jazz told the Daily News of Jordan, "I think everybody knows how he should be remembered, as the greatest player that has ever played." A two-time Olympic gold medal winner with the U.S. basketball team, Jordan distinguished himself in a 15-season career with the NBA by, among many other achievements, leading the league in scoring more seasons (10) than any other player in history, and by setting a record for the most consecutive games scoring more than nine points (842 games). He started his career with the NBA during the 1984-85 season, playing as a guard for the Chicago Bulls until 1993, when announced the first of three retirements. He went back to the Bulls in 1994-95, "retired" again in 1999, and went back to the game, this time with the Washington Wizards for the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons. In 2002, at the age of 39, he announced his intention to quit playing for good after the 2002-03 season.

Cut from His High School Team

Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1963. He was the youngest of four boys born to James and Deloris Jordan. James Jordan was the son of a share cropper from rural North Carolina, and he was in Brooklyn to attend a school that trained employees of General Electric. Jordan's mother, Deloris, was a homemaker until her children were old enough to attend school, and then she became a bank clerk.

When Jordan was about seven years old, in 1970, his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, the town he would later consider to be his hometown. He began playing basketball at an early age, often with his older

brother Larry. "When I was younger," Jordan said on his Web site, "my motivation came from wanting to beat my brother. This inspired my extremely competitive nature."

As a freshman in high school, Jordan joined his school basketball team. It was on his high school team that Jordan chose the jersey number he was later to make famous as a pro, number 23. When later asked why he chose that number, he replied to the Associated Press, "I wanted to wear No. 45 in high school, but my older brother (Larry) wore that number. So I decided to go with half of 45, which is actually 22½." Jordan at first had trouble standing out on the school team. In fact, only a year after joining the team, as a tenth grader, he was cut from the varsity team. But this only pushed him to work harder at perfecting his game. As he later said on his Web site, "I think that not making the Varsity team drove me to really work at my game, and also taught me that if you set goals, and work hard to achieve themthe hard work can pay off."

"That Boy Is Devastating"

Jordan began to distinguish himself on the junior varsity team, and was soon averaging more than 20 points a game. "I remember going to Laney High on a Friday night, Michael's junior year, and now he'd grown to, maybe 6 foot 1," Jordan's uncle Gene Jordan later recalled to Kevin Paul Dupont in the Boston Globe. "Before the game he's telling me, 'Watch me, I'm going to slam dunk three balls tonight. You'll see. I'm going to slam three.' And I'm there saying, 'Boy, who you kiddin'? You can't slam no ball.' Well, he didn't slam three, but he sure as hell slammed two. And I told my brother that night, 'Hey, that boy is devastating.'"

Even so, Jordan was not on the lists of most college basketball team recruiters. He was noticed by recruiters at the University of North Carolina, however, and there he went to college, playing guard on the school team under coach Dean Smith. True success touched Jordan for the first time at the NCAA tournament in which his team played against the Georgetown Hoyas. Jordan scored the three of the last five winning shots to bring North Carolina its first title in a quarter of a century. "I've never seen anybody pick up the game so fast," one of his former UNC teammates and later Lakers player told Filip Bondy in the Daily News years later. "Michael just doesn't repeat mistakes."

After his success at the NCAA championship, Jordan became nationally famous, and a celebrity in North Carolina. He even landed on the cover of the Chapel Hill telephone book. Next came his selection to the U.S. team in the Olympic Games, played in Los Angeles in 1984. Team U.S.A. took home the gold medal. Jordan graduated college in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in cultural geography. After college, Jordan was picked up as the first choice in a draft lottery by the Chicago Bulls.

When Jordan signed on with the Bulls, he began a marketing relationship with Nike that was to last throughout his career; Nike released a sport shoe called Air Jordans. As for his performance as a player, he was soon unrivaled as an unstoppable force. As his coach, Kevin Loughery later said to Bondy in the Daily News, "If I put him with the starters, they win. If I put him with the second team, they win. No matter what I do with Michael, his team wins."

Chronology

1963 Born in Brooklyn, NY
1970 Moves with his family to Wilmington, North Carolina
1979 Is cut from his high school varsity basketball team
1982 Scores game-winning basket in NCAA championship game for the University of North Carolina
1984 Plays on gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in Los Angeles
1984 Signs as a player with the Chicago Bulls
1984 Plays on the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team
1985 Named NBA Rookie of the Year
1987 Breaks Bulls record by scoring 58 points in a single game
1987 Breaks the record again by scoring 61 points in one game
1987 Breaks NBA record by scoring 23 points in a row
1990 Scores his career best of 69 points in a single game
1991 Scores his career best of 19 rebounds in one game
1992 Plays on gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in Barcelona
1993 Father James Jordan murdered
1993 Announces retirement from playing basketball, briefly plays baseball
1995 Returns to playing basketball
1996 Named one of the top 50 basketball players of time
1997 Called by People one of the Most Intriguing People of the Century
1998 Publishes autobiography, For the Love of the Game
1999 Named the 20th century's greatest athlete by ESPN
1999 Retires again
2000 Becomes part owner and director of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards
2001 Comes out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards
2002 Again announces retirement

Related Biography: Father James Jordan

James Jordan was in the habit of driving long distances overnight, stopping only for brief naps in his car, rather than staying in hotels. "Oh, I know he's stopped in Lumberton before," his brother, Gene Jordan, told Kevin Paul Dupont in the Boston Globe after James's death. "I'm sure he's pulled over at that exact spot before. A hotel room? That wasn't James, uhuh. After Michael's fame and everything, people used to ask him, 'Are you going to get a bodyguard? He'd laugh at that. Stopping at the side of the road was nothing for my brother. He didn't think anything of it. He figured he didn't have an enemy in the world."

Not enemies, but thieves took James Jordan's life as he napped in his car on a Lumberton, North Carolina roadside in the early morning hours of July 23, 1993. James Jordan was on his way home from the funeral of a former coworker at the General Electric plant where he used to work. After the killing shot to the chest, the thieves took off in James Jordan's car, later stripping it, and then dumping Jordan's body in a nearby creek, where it was found a week and a half later. Jordan would have turned 57 less than two weeks after the day he died. "The world's lost a good man," Gene Jordan told Dupont.

James Raymond Jordan was born on July 31, 1936 in rural North Carolina, the first child born to sharecropper William Jordan and his wife Rosa Bell Jordan. He began a career at General Electric in 1967, moving up to become a parts department manager. He retired from GE in the late 1980s, at which time the Jordan family moved from Wilmington, North Carlolina, where Michael Jordan grew up, to the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Those who knew both James and Michael Jordan noted that Michael was very much like his father. Both had shaved heads, and both stuck their tongues out when concentrating on a difficult taskin Michael's case, when lining up a shot. Their handwriting was alike enough that many people couldn't tell them apart. Proud supporters of Michael Jordan's basketball playing from the beginning, James Jordan and his wife, Michael's mother Deloris, never missed a game Michael played in during his time at the University of North Carolina.

James Jordan was buried alongside his grandfather and parents in the graveyard of the Rockfish African Methodist Episcopal Church in Teachey, North Carolina. His tombstone reads simply, as reported by Dupont, "James Jordan, 1936-1993."

Jordan was slowed at the beginning of 1985-86 season, when he suffered a stress fracture in his foot. Nevertheless, in 1986, he scored 63 points in a playoff game against the Celtics. In 1988, he was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year, leading the NBA in steals. He also earned MVP honors at the 1988 All-Star Game, held that year in Chicago. Another gold medal at the Olympics followed in 1992 when he again played on U.S. Olympic Team. By 1993, Jordan led the NBA in scoring, and been named the NBA's Most Valuable Player 3 times. He was also earning $30 million a year, not including millions of dollars more he earned endorsing products.

Tragedy Strikes

In the summer of 1993, Jordan's high-flying career came to a crashing halt with an event that was to forever change his life. In the very early morning hours of July 23, 1993, Jordan's father, James Jordan, was making a long drive from the North Carolina coast, coming back from a friend's funeral, when he stopped on a roadside in Lumberton, North Carolina. There he hoped to grab a few minutes of rest before driving the last 130 miles home. But it was not to be. He was set upon by a pair of robbers, shot once in the chest, and killed. The 18-year-old murderers did not know who their victim was; they wanted nothing more than his car and whatever valuables it might contain. They stripped his car, and dumped his body in a creek near where they shot him, and there he was found 11 days later.

After the death of his father, the steam went out of Jordan's career. "When my father died," he explained to Bondy in the Daily News "there was a different emphasis on everything." Jordan no longer felt the same fire to play basketball. He announced his retirement, and then went into seclusion. "There's nothing left to prove," he told Filip Bondy in the New York Daily News.

Back in the Game

After a brief attempt to start a baseball career, Jordan roared back from retirement in 1995, again playing for the Bulls. His first season back, he was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player. In 1996, he was named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History. He was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player again in 1997. In 1999, he "retired" again at 36 years old but stayed in the game as an owner and executive when he became part owner of the Washington Wizards in 2000 and director of basketball operations for the team.

Jordan, however, found it impossible to stay off the court. He was 38 years old when he announced the end of his second retirement, saying that he would play for the Wizards. NBA rules required that he sell his ownership stake in the Wizards before playing for the team. He also had to give up his management position with the Wizards to avoid a conflict of interest created by being both a manager and a player.

Space Jam

In 1996, at the height of Michael Jordan's fame and popularity, Warner Bros. Released a feature film that featured Jordan as a live-action character in a cartoon world. Actually, he wasn't a character at all; he just played himself along side such cartoon notables as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.

Directed by Joe Pytka, and featuring the voices of, among others, Billy West and Danny Devito, Space Jam was Jordan's first feature film appearance, and a rather unusual one at that. The film features a tongue-in-cheek treatment of Jordan and his career as a superstar and a pure fantasy plot involving a parallel cartoon universe. When a group of Looney Tunes cartoon stars, including Bugs and Daffy, are kidnapped by some evil aliens, the cartoon characters hatch a plot to free themselves using the basketball talents of Michael Jordan., which he displays to good effect in the film's finale.

The film's animators smoothly combined live-action footage with hand-drawn and computer-generated animations, allowing the cartoon characters to travel from their cartoon universe to ours, and to pull Jordan from our universe into theirs. Space Jam, declared Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times, "is a happy marriage of good ideasthree films for the price of one, giving us a comic treatment of the career adventures of Michael Jordan, crossed with Looney Tunes cartoon and some showbiz warfare. The result is delightful, a family movie in the best sense (whichmeans the adults will enjoy it, too)."

Awards and Accomplishments

1981 Breaks record at McDonald's All-American game by scoring 30 points
1982 Scores winning points in NCAA championship game
1984 Named college Player of the Year
1984 Wins Olympic gold medal with U.S. basketball team
1985 Named NBA Rookie of the Year
1986-87 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1987 Winner, Slam Dunk Contest
1987-88 Named NBA Most Valuable Player
1987-88 Named NBA Defensive Player of the Year
1987-88 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1987-88 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1988 Wins Slam Dunk Contest
1988 Named NBA Most Valuable Player
1988 Named NBA All-Star Games Most Valuable Player
1988-89 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1988-89 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1989-90 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1989-90 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1990-91 Named NBA Most Valuable Player
1990-91 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1990-91 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1991 Leads Chicago Bulls to their first NBA title
1991-92 Named NBA Most Valuable Player
1991-92 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1991-92 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1992 Wins Olympic gold medal with U.S. basketball team
1992-93 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1992-93 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1995-96 Named NBA Most Valuable Player
1995-96 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1995-96 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1996 Named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History
1996 Named NBA All-Star Games Most Valuable Player
1996-97 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1996-97 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1997-98 Named NBA Most Valuable Player
1997-98 Named to the All-NBA First Team
1997-98 Named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team
1998 Named NBA All-Star Games Most Valuable Player

Before Jordan could play again, he had to get back in shape, shedding 28 pounds, and undergoing a training regimen that included practicing with increasingly experienced

basketball players. As he said on his Web site: "It was definitely tougher to come backthan I had expected. After taking time off the sport, I had to work much harder to get my body back into shape. My body is also a lot older than it used to bethat that's ok. I came back for the love of the game."

Jordan stepped onto the court as a player once again in the 2001-02 season, but after a knee injury requiring surgery forced him to miss 20 games the following season, he again announced his retirement. "At the end of this season, I'm not looking to enter another contract," he told the Washington Post 's Steve Wyche in November, 2002. "Right now I want to finish this year out and hopefully fulfill my obligations and let this team take its own course." He also indicated that he would resume his managerial role with the Wizards, and other sources reported that he planned to repurchase the ownership stake in the team that he had given up in order to become a player.

Jordan is married to Juanita Jordan. They have two sons, Jeffrey Michael and Marcus James, and a daughter, Jasmine Mikail. His leisure pursuits include shopping. "I am a huge shopper," Jordan said on his Web site, "although it is hard for me to go to malls and stores since I am easily recognized. Therefore, I do a lot of my shopping through catalogues. I love shopping in New York City and some stores will even open on their off hours for me." Jordan also enjoys playing golf. In fact, he said on his Web site, "When I'm not on the court, you can probably find me on the golf course. However, I am a total hack! For the most part it is a great mental sport that allows me to relax and get away."

Jordan is also involved in many business ventures and charities not related to basketball. Among them, a chain of restaurants located in Chicago, New York, Chapel Hill, and in Connecticut. Among the charities he supports are Make-A-Wish, Ronald McDonald House, and the Boys & Girls Clubs. "It is very important for me to give back to others," he explains on his Web site. "My wife and I also give to many local charities which benefit children."

Career Statistics

Yr Team GP PTS FG% 3P% FT% RPG APG SPG BPG TO PF
CHI: Chicago Bulls; WAS: Washington Wizards.
1984-85 CHI 82 28.2 .515 .173 .845 6.50 5.9 2.39 .84 3.55 3.50
1985-86 CHI 18 22.7 .457 .167 .840 3.60 2.9 2.06 1.17 2.50 2.60
1986-87 CHI 82 37.1 .482 .182 .857 5.20 4.6 2.88 1.52 3.32 2.90
1987-88 CHI 82 35.0 .535 .137 .841 5.50 5.9 3.16 1.60 3.07 3.30
1988-89 CHI 81 32.5 .538 .276 .850 8.00 8.0 2.89 .80 3.58 3.00
1989-90 CHI 82 33.6 .526 .376 .848 6.90 6.3 2.77 .66 3.01 2.90
1990-91 CHI 82 31.5 .539 .312 .851 6.00 5.5 2.72 1.01 2.46 2.80
1991-92 CHI 80 30.1 .519 .270 .832 6.40 6.1 2.28 .94 2.50 2.50
1992-93 CHI 78 32.6 .495 .352 .837 6.70 5.5 2.83 .78 2.65 2.40
1994-95 CHI 17 26.9 .411 .500 .801 6.90 5.3 1.76 .76 2.06 2.80
1995-96 CHI 82 30.4 .495 .427 .834 6.60 4.3 2.20 .51 2.40 2.40
1996-97 CHI 82 29.6 .486 .374 .833 5.90 4.3 1.71 .54 2.02 1.90
1997-98 CHI 82 28.7 .465 .238 .784 5.80 3.5 1.72 .55 2.26 1.80
2001-02 WAS 60 22.9 .416 .189 .790 5.70 5.2 1.42 .43 2.70 2.00
2002-03 WAS 18 17.1 .454 .385 .733 4.30 2.8 1.67 .39 1.72 2.20
TOTAL 1008 30.7 .500 .328 .835 6.20 5.3 2.40 .85 2.76 2.60

After finally retiring as a player, Jordan looked forward to spending more time with his family "as well as trying to live for the moment and enjoy each day as it comes," he said on his Web site. He also planned to play a lot of golf.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Periodicals

Bondy, Filip. "Out of This World: In Redefining Greatness, Michael Jordan Made a Lasting Impact on an Entire Generation." Daily News (January 13, 1999): Special, 2.

DeShazier, John. "Rare Air; Jordan Soared to Unforeseen Heights, Standing Head and shoulders Above the Rest in the NBA." Times-Picayune (October 31, 1999): C16.

Dupont, Kevin Paul. "Cold Blood in Carolina; Family, Friends and Townspeople Try to Make Sense out of a Senseless Killing." Boston Globe (August 29, 1993): Sports, 47.

"Jordan Stuns Students at his Prep Alma Mater." Chicago Sun-Times (November 16, 1993): Sports, 1.

Wyche, Steve. "Jordan Says This Will be Final Season." Washington Post (November 29, 2002): D1.

Wyche, Steve. "Jordan Will Return, Play for Wizards." Washington Post (September 24, 2001): D1.

Other

"Biography for Michael Jordan." Internet Movie Database. http://us.imdb.com/Bio?Jordan,%20Michael. (December 6, 2002).

"Michael JordanOne on One." Michael Jordan Official Website. http://www.sportsline.com/u/jordan/2001/oneonone/index.htm. (December 6, 2002).

"Michael JordanThe Player." Michael Jordan Official Website. http://www.sportsline.com/u/jordan/2001/player/index.htm. (December 6, 2002).

"Michael Jordan Player Info." NBA.com. http://www.nba.com/playerfile/michael_jordan/?nav=page. (December 6, 2002).

"Space Jam." Suntimes.com. http://www.suntimes.com/ebert/ebert_reviews/1996/11/111505.html. (December 6, 2002).

"Space Jam (1996)." RottenTomatoes.com. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/SpaceJam-1073294/about.php. (December 6, 2002).

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Jordan, Michael

Michael Jordan

Born: February 17, 1963
Brooklyn, New York

African American basketball player

Basketball superstar Michael Jordan is one of the most successful, popular, and wealthy athletes in college, Olympic, and professional sports history.

Early life

Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York, one of James and Deloris Jordan's five children. The family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, when Michael was very young. His father worked as a General Electric plant supervisor, and his mother worked at a bank. His father taught him to work hard and not to be tempted by street life. His mother taught him to sew, clean, and do laundry. Jordan loved sports but failed to make his high school basketball team as a sophomore. He continued to practice and made the team the next year. After high school he accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina, where he played under head coach Dean Smith.

In Jordan's first season at North Carolina he was named Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Rookie of the Year for 1982. The team won the ACC championship, and Jordan made the clutch jump shot that beat Georgetown University for the championship of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Jordan led the ACC in scoring as a sophomore and as a junior. The Sporting News named him college player of the year for both years. He left North Carolina after his junior year and was selected by the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) as the third pick of the 1984 draft. Before joining the Bulls, Jordan was a member of the Summer 1984 United States Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal in Los Angeles, California.

Early pro years

When Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls they were a losing team, drawing only around six thousand fans to home games. Jordan quickly turned that around. His style of play and fierce spirit of competition reminded sportswriters and fans of Julius Erving (1950), who had been a superstar player during the 1970s. Jordan's incredible leaping ability and hang time thrilled fans in arenas around the league. In his first season he was named to the All-Star team and was later honored as the league's Rookie of the Year.

A broken foot sidelined Jordan for 64 games during the 198586 season, but he returned to score 49 points against the Boston Celtics in the first game of the playoffs and 63 in the second gamean NBA playoff record. The 198687 season was again one of individual successes, and Jordan started in the All-Star game after receiving a record 1.5 million votes. He became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain (19361999) to score 3,000 points in a single season. Jordan enjoyed personal success, but Chicago did not advance beyond the first round of the playoffs until 1988. Jordan concentrated on improving his other basketball skills, and in 1988 he was named Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) and became the first player to lead the league in both scoring and steals. He was again named MVP in that year's All-Star game.

By adding such players as Scottie Pippen, Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant, and John Paxson around Jordan, the Bulls' management created a strong team that won the 1991 NBA title by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers. The next year, the Bulls repeated as NBA champions by beating the Portland Trail Blazers. In 1992 Jordan also played on the "Dream Team," which participated in the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The Olympic Committee had voted to lift the ban on professional athletes participating in the games. The team easily won the gold medal, winning their eight games by an average margin of 43.7 points.

Unexpected retirement

In 1993, after a tough playoff series with the New York Knicks, the Bulls met the Phoenix Suns for the NBA championship. When it was over, Jordan was again playoff MVP, and Chicago had won a third straight title. That summer Jordan's father, James, was murdered by two men during a robbery attempt. Jordan was grief stricken, and his father's death, combined with media reports about his gambling, led him to announce his retirement from professional basketball in October. Jordan had won three straight NBA titles, three regular season MVP awards, three playoff MVP titles, seven consecutive scoring titles, and he was a member of the All-Star team every year that he was in the league. In just nine seasons he had become the Bulls all-time leading scorer.

In 199495 Jordan played for the Birmingham Barons, a minor league baseball team in the Chicago White Sox system. Although the seventeen-month experiment showed that he was not a major league baseball player, the experience and time away from basketball provided a much-needed rest and opportunity to regain his love of basketball.

Return to glory

When Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls during the 199495 regular season, people wondered, "Could he do it again?" He played well, but he was obviously rusty. The Bulls were defeated in the playoffs by the Orlando Magic. After a summer of playing basketball during breaks from filming the live-action cartoon movie Space Jam, Jordan returned with a fierce determination to prove that he had the ability to get back on top. The 199596 Bulls finished the regular season 7210, an NBA record for most wins in a season, and Jordan, with his shooting rhythm back, earned his eighth scoring title. He also became the tenth NBA player to score 25,000 career points and second fastest after Chamberlain to reach that mark. The Bulls went on to win their fourth NBA championship, overpowering the Seattle Supersonics in six games. Few who watched will ever forget how Jordan sank to his knees, head bent over the winning ball, in a moment of bittersweet victory and deep sadness. The game had been played on Father's Day, three years after his father's murder.

The defending champions had a tougher time during the 199697 season but entered the playoffs as expected. Sheer determination took the Bulls to their fifth NBA championship. Illness, injury, and at times a lack of concentration hurt the team. In the fifth game of the finals Jordan carried the team to victory despite suffering from a stomach virus. In the 199798 season the Bulls were again in the playoffs, and again they faced tough competition. As before, they were able to clinch the NBA championship, and Jordan claimed his sixth NBA finals MVP award.

Jordan's other professional life as a businessman was never off track. Profitable endorsements (ads in which he voiced his support for certain products) for companies such as Nike and Wheaties, as well as his own golf company and products such as Michael Jordan cologne (which reportedly sold 1.5 million bottles in its first two months), made Jordan a multimillionaire. In 1997 he was ranked the world's highest paid athlete, with a $30 million contractthe largest one-year salary in sports historyand approximately $40 million a year in endorsement fees.

Retired again

Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, ending his career on a high note just after the official end of a labor dispute between NBA players and team owners. Many people saw him as the greatest basketball player ever, and his retirement was called the end of an era. In 2000 Jordan became part-owner and president of basketball operations of the Washington Wizards. This made him only the third African American owner in the NBA. He also gained an ownership stake in the Washington Capitals hockey team. Also in 2000, Jordan celebrated the first year of his $1 million grant program to help teachers make a difference in their schools.

In September 2001, after months of rumors, Jordan announced that he was ending his three-year retirement to play for the Wizards at age thirty-eight. At a news conference to discuss his comeback, he said, "Physically, I know I'm not twenty-five years old, but I feel I can play the game of basketball on the highest level." The Wizards, who had won only nineteen games the season before, improved with the addition of Jordan. After being voted to play in his thirteenth All-Star game (during which he missed a slam dunk), Jordan had the Wizards in the race for the playoffs until suffering a knee injury and missing the last part of the season. He was also distracted in January 2002 when his wife Juanita, whom he married in 1989, filed for divorce. (They have three children.) The next month the divorce was called off. Jordan said he planned to play one more season for the Wizards.

For More Information

Greene, Bob. Hang Time. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Gutman, Bill. Michael Jordan: A Biography. New York: Pocket Books, 1991.

Halberstam, David. Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made. New York: Random House, 1999.

Jordan, Michael. For the Love of the Game: My Story. New York: Crown Publishers, 1998.

Naughton, Jim. Taking to the Air: The Rise of Michael Jordan. New York: Warner Books, 1992.

Smith, Sam. The Jordan Rules. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992.

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Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

Basketball superstar Michael Jordan (born 1963) was one of the most successful, popular, and wealthy athletes in college, Olympic, and professional sports history.

Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963. He did not make the high school basketball team as a sophomore in his native Wilmington, North Carolina, but did make the team as a junior. After high school he accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina where he played under head coach Dean Smith. In his first season at Carolina he became only the second Tarheel player to start every game as a freshman and was named Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Rookie of the Year (1982). In his freshman year he played on the ACC championship team and made the clutch jump shot that beat Georgetown University for the championship of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He led the ACC in scoring as a sophomore in the 1982-1983 season and as a junior in the 1983-1984 season. The Sporting News named him college player of the year in 1983 and again in 1984. He left North Carolina after his junior year and was drafted by the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) as the third overall pick of the 1984 draft, behind standouts Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. Before joining the Bulls, Jordan was a member of the Summer 1984 United States Olympic basketball team that easily won the gold medal in Los Angeles, California.

Air Jordan Was Born

When Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls they were a lackluster team, seldom drawing not much more than 6,000 fans to a home game. Jordan quickly turned that around. His style of play and fierce spirit of competition reminded sportswriters and fans of Julius Erving, who had dominated play during the 1970s. Jordan's incredible leaping ability and hang time thrilled fans in arenas around the league. As a rookie in his first season he was named to the All-Star team and was later named the league's Rookie of the Year (1985).

A broken foot sidelined him for 64 games during the 1985-1986 season, but he returned in rare form, scoring 49 points against the Boston Celtics in the first game of the playoffs and 63 in the second game, an NBA record. The 1986-1987 season was again one of individual successes, and Jordan started in the All-Star game after receiving a record 1.5 million votes. He became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to score 3,000 points in a single season. Jordan enjoyed personal success, but Chicago did not advance beyond the first round of the playoffs until 1988, when they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Bulls were then eliminated in the semi-final round by the Detroit Pistons. During the season Jordan had concentrated on improving his other basketball skills to the point where he was named Defensive Player of the Year (1988). He was also named the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) and became the first player to lead the league in both scoring and steals. He was again named the MVP in that year's All-Star game.

The Bulls' management knew that they had a superstar in Michael Jordan, but they knew as well that they did not have a championship team. By adding such players as center Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant, and John Paxon to complement Jordan's skills they created a strong team that won the 1991 title by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers. When the Bulls defeated the Portland Trail Blazers for the NBA championship in 1992, they became the first back-to-back winners since the Boston Celtics during the 1960s, who won eight straight championships.

In 1992 Jordan joined NBA stars Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Clyde Drexler, David Robinson, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Chris Mullin, and Duke University's Christian Laettner to form the "Dream Team" that participated in the 25th Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The Olympic Committee had voted to lift the ban on professional athletes participating in the games. The team easily won the gold medal, winning their eight games by a 43.7 average margin of victory, scoring more than 100 points in each game.

1993—Personal Trials and Triumphs

In 1993, after a grueling semi-final playoff series with the New York Knicks, the Bulls met the Phoenix Suns for the NBA championship. When it was over, Jordan was again playoff MVP and Chicago had an unprecedented third straight title. Then, unexpectedly, tragedy struck. Jordan's father, James, was murdered by two men during a robbery attempt. Jordan was grief stricken, and that, combined with increasing media scrutiny over his gambling, left him feeling depleted and disenchanted with his life as a basketball superstar. Stating that he had nothing left to accomplish, he announced his retirement from professional basketball in October. By all accounts Jordan handled the personal tragedy of his father's death with great dignity. And while he felt the joy and challenge was gone from basketball, nothing could diminish what he had accomplished: three consecutive NBA titles, three regular season MVP awards, three playoff MVP titles, member of the All-Star team every year that he was in the league, and seven consecutive scoring titles. In just nine seasons he had become the Bulls all-time scoring leader.

In 1994 Jordan changed sports and joined the Chicago White Sox minor league baseball team. Professionally, the next 17 months proved to be mediocre at best, but the experience and time away from basketball provided a much needed respite and opportunity to regain his passion for basketball.

The Road Back Was a Slam Dunk

It had been a long time since anyone who knew Jordan thought—or dared ask—could he cut it. But when he returned to the Chicago Bulls during the 1994-1995 regular season, people wondered, "Could he do it again?"He played well, but inconsistently and so did the Bulls. The team was defeated in the playoffs by the Orlando Magic. After a summer of playing basketball during breaks from filming the movie Space Jam, he returned with fierce determination to prove any skeptic that he had what it took to get back on top. The 1995-1996 season was built on the type of playing on which records are made—the team finished the regular season 72-10, an NBA record that topped the 1971-1972 record established by the Los Angeles Lakers, and Jordan, with his shooting rhythm back, earned his eighth scoring title. He also became the tenth NBA player to score 25,000 career points, second only to Wilt Chamberlain in the number of games it took. The Bulls, with the Jordan, Pippen, and Dennis Rodman super combo, went on to win their fourth NBA championship in the decade, overpowering the Seattle Supersonics in six games. It was a moment few who watched will ever forget, as Jordan sank to his knees, head bent over the winning ball, in an emotional moment of bittersweet victory and deep sadness. The game had been played on Father's Day, exactly three years after his father's murder. It was the kind of moment both Jordans would have relished sharing.

The defending champions encountered a tougher playing field during the 1996-1997 season, but entered the playoffs as expected. Sheer determination took the Bulls to their fifth NBA championship. Illness, injury, and at times wavering mental focus plagued the team. In the fifth game Jordan almost singlehandedly delivered the winning score, despite suffering from a stomach virus.

Jordan's other professional life as businessman and celebrity endorser was never off track. He co-starred with Bugs Bunny and the Loony Tunes gang in the live action/animation film, Space Jam. Megabuck endorsements for companies such as Nike and Wheaties, as well as his own golf company and branded products such as Michael Jordan cologne, which reportedly sold 1,500,000 bottles in the first two months on the market, made Jordan a multimillionaire. In 1997 Jordan was ranked the world's highest paid athlete, with a $30 million contract—the largest one-year salary in sports history—and approximately $40 million a year in endorsement fees.

To top off his stellar professional resume, Jordan was regarded as an all around nice guy with moral courage, poise, and personal charisma. He credited his family and faith for his success. As the twentieth century came to a close, this African-American hero was a cultural and sports icon around the world.

Further Reading

Hang Time, Jordan's biography, written with Bob Greene (Doubleday, 1992) and Rare Air: Michael on Michael, edited by Mark Vancil (Collins Publishers, San Francisco, 1993) are good general accounts of his life through 1992. Taking to the Air: The Rise of Michael Jordan by Jim Naughton ( Warner Books, 1992) and Hang Time: Days and Dreams with Michael Jordan by Bob Greene (1992) are both good general biographies. For a critical look at Jordan see The Jordan Rules by Sam Smith (1992). For more on the Olympic "Dream Team" see The Golden Boys by Cameron Stauth (1992). See also Second Coming: The Strange Odyssey of Michael Jordan— from Courtside to Home Plate and Back Again by Sam Smith (HarperCollins, 1995). □

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Jordan, Michael Jeffrey

Michael Jeffrey Jordan, 1963–, American basketball player, b. Brooklyn, N.Y. As a freshman at the Univ. of North Carolina, he made the shot that won the 1982 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament final over Georgetown. Joining the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) in 1984, he was the 1985 Rookie of the Year and developed into the outstanding guard of the late 1980s and the 1990s. From 1991 to 1993, Jordan led the Bulls to three NBA championships. In 1993 he announced his retirement, saying he had achieved all his goals in basketball, and began a second career as a baseball player. After two unspectacular years in the minor-league system of the Chicago White Sox, however, he returned to the NBA early in 1995, and in 1996–98 he led the Bulls to three more championships. In 1999 he retired again. The following year he became a part owner of the NBA's Washington Wizards, but in 2001 sold his share of the team and signed with the Wizards and played for two seasons.

Noted especially for his leaping ability, the 6-ft 6-in. (198-cm) Jordan is widely considered the greatest basketball player ever. The NBA career leader in scoring average, he was the league's leading scorer each year from 1986 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998, for a record ten titles, and is third on the all-time points list. Jordan also starred for the 1984 and 1992 gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic teams. Known as "Air Jordan" and "His Airness," he popularized basketball around the world; for a time he was probably the world's most famous person. His commercial endorsements and investments have made him the world's wealthiest athlete. In 2010 he became the majority owner of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats; he first invested in the team in 2006.

See biography by R. Lazenby (2014); D. Halberstam, Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made (1999).

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Jordan, Michael Jeffrey

Jordan, Michael Jeffrey (1963– ) US basketball player. He led the Chicago Bulls to six National Basketball Association titles (1991–93, 1996–98) and was named Most Valuable Player five times (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1997). Jordan played in the US teams that won gold medals at the 1984 and 1992 Olympics. In 1993 he switched to baseball, but returned to the Bulls in 1995. Jordan retired in 1999, but made a comeback with the Washington Wizards in 2001.

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