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Michael Jordan

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York) is a former National Basketball Association player, considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time.

A remarkable force at both ends of the floor, Jordan ended a career of 15 full 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 championships, notched 10 scoring titles, and was league MVP five times. He was named to the All-Defensive First Team nine times, and led the league in steals three times. In 1991, he was named Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportsman of the Year." These and other achievements have persuaded many fans that Jordan was the best ever to play the game.

University of North Carolina

As a UNC freshman, Jordan was an exciting but not dominant player. He ended the 1982 year in grand style, hitting the winning shot in the 1982 NCAA championship game against Georgetown, led by future NBA rival Patrick Ewing. By his sophomore year, he was clearly the team's biggest star; as a junior, he was named the national player of the year. He was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the 1984 NBA Draft as the third pick overall.

Chicago Bulls

Jordan played 13 seasons for the Bulls, generally as a shooting guard, but his height (6'6", or 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 -- a feat not likely to ever be duplicated. He also earned the elusive MVP triple crown (league, finals, all-star game) twice when he won All-Star MVP in both 1996 and 1998 (he also won in 1988). 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 was Phil Jackson. He had the following to say about Jordan:

"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".

Perhaps weighed down by the August 1993 murder of his father, Michael retired from basketball two days before the 1993-94 NBA season, and the Bulls retired his #23 jersey.

Baseball Career

Jordan spent the next year pursuing a childhood dream: professional baseball. 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-5th 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. He was never called up to the majors. Many consider this brief stab at baseball the only tarnish on his athletic career.

Back To The Bulls

He ended his basketball retirement on March 19, 1995 by rejoining the Bulls. Because jersey #23 had been retired, he wore #45, his Barons number. Jordan led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Semifinals that year. As he struggled with unaccustomed playoff difficulty, he broke out his old #23 jersey during a second-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic. The switch did not immediately bring him luck, and the Magic prevailed. But it was back to winning ways the following year, the Bulls won three consecutive NBA titles between 1996 and 1998.

Jordan retired again on January 13, 1999.

Washington Wizards

In 2001, he came out of retirement a second time to play for the Washington Wizards, though his skills were noticeably diminished by age. Yet despite an injury-plagued 2001-02 season, he still averaged nearly 23 points per game. Playing through pain, especially in his knee, he was still an important player for the Wizards. He returned for the 2002-03 season and averaged 20 points. He played in his 13th and final NBA All-Star Game in 2002-03. The 2002-03 season was heralded from the beginning as Jordan's final goodbye to his fans and he retired for the third time at the season's conclusion.

At the beginning of the 2001-2002 basketball season, Michael Jordan donated his $1 million salary to help the victims of the September 11 attacks.

Out of respect for Jordan's legacy, the Miami Heat retired his #23 jersey on April 11, 2003, even though he never played for the Florida team. It was the first jersey the Heat retired in their then-15-year history, and it was half Wizards blue, half Bulls red.

The Olympics

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 and Larry Bird. It is often rumored that Jordan kept guard Isiah Thomas off the roster due to personal differences. Nonetheless, it was a star-studded roster that cruised through pool play and the medal round, restoring America to its place atop the basketball world.

Personal life

Jordan spent his childhood in Wilmington, North Carolina. He attended Emsley A. Laney High School, where he was a standout in football, baseball, and basketball. At UNC, he majored in geography.

Michael Jordan has two older brothers, Larry and James R., one older sister, Delores, and one younger sister, Roslyn. James R. Jordan is a Sergeant Major in 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 Iraq until the U.S. occupation ended.

Michael Jordan currently lives in Highland Park, Illinois.

Father's murder

Jordan's father, James, was murdered in August 1993. While returning from the funeral of a friend, he pulled over onto the side of an interstate highway in North Carolina for a nap. Two local criminals killed him and stole his Lexus, a gift from Michael. The perpetrators made several calls from James' cell phone and were quickly captured. But James' body was not immediately identified. Michael and family did not immediately file a missing persons report, because the elder Jordan frequently took long trips by himself. By the time a report was filed, James' body had been cremated per local health laws as a John Doe.

 

Businessman

Jordan is one of the most marketed sports figures in history. He has been a major spokesman for such brands as Nike, Gatorade, McDonald's, 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. Athletes who endorse the company include Ray Allen, Michael Finley, Derek Anderson, Gary Payton, and Jason Kidd. It has even crossed over into other sports, with athletes such as Randy Moss, Derek Jeter, and Roy Jones Jr. wearing Jordan apparel.

He has also been connected with the Looney Tunes. A Nike commercial in the 1991 Super Bowl where he and Bugs Bunny played basketball against some Martians inspired the 1996 live action/animated movie Space Jam, which also starred Michael and the Looney Tunes 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. Unfortunately, it fell victim to the dot-com bust, and the rights to the domain were sold to CBS SportsLine in 2001.

Awards

Wikimedia FoundationAll text is copied from Wikipedia, available under the GNU Free Documentation License
Last Updated May 2005
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