Michael Jordan was possibly the best basketball player in the history of the National Basketball Association. His career spanned over nineteen glorious seasons for the Chicago Bulls. The most recognizable athlete in the world, he is not only the top player of his era, but is quite possibly the best player ever to wear the uniform of an NBA team. The magnitude of his Airness can be best shown through Michael’s soaring hang times and acrobatic moves, but the legend of MJ is characterized by his tough spirit, determination and passion of the greatest player in basketball history.
In 1984 Jordan came into the NBA after an outstanding three-year career at North Carolina. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Michael was raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. He hit the jump shot that gave the Tar Heels the NCAA Championship in 1982 and was the College Player of the Year in 1984. The Chicago Bulls took him with the No. 3 overall pick. Jordan joined a club that had finished at 27-55 the previous season and was considered one of the worst teams in the league. In his rookie season, Jordan lifted the team to a 38-44 record and a playoff berth for the first time since 1981. He finished the season with a scoring average of 28.2 points per game, third in the league, and set Chicago single-season records for points (2,313), field goals (837), free throws (630), free-throw attempts (746), and steals (196). It all added up to an NBA Rookie of the Year Award, a slot on the NBA All-Rookie Team, and a selection to the All-NBA Second Team. The Bulls faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs and lost in all four games. Jordan averaged 29.3 points in the series, but couldn’t muster his first playoff victory. Dissatisfied and disappointed, Jordan trained hard over the off-season to win his first playoff series.
Early on in his career Michael was presented with mild success, but still unproven in the playoffs. Yet as the rest of the world was about to find out, MJ was possibly the most physically and mentally dominant player on the court. He earned the MVP status in 1988, 1991, and 1992, while scorching through the Finals and winning three consecutive NBA championships (1992-1993). He led the NBA in scoring for 7 consecutive seasons. In less than five years, Michael turned around a deteriorating Chicago Bulls franchise, into one of the NBA’s most storied dynasties.
Yet midway through Jordan’s career, several life changing controversial issues came about. In 1993, straight off of his third NBA championship, Michael’s father, James Jordan was murdered in his car in North Carolina. The shocking tragedy, hit Michael very closely, and to pay homage to his father, decided to quit from basketball and play baseball. The entire basketball world was in stunned. Many critics disagreed with the move, but Michael was determined. After one lackluster season with the minor league Birmingham Barons, Michael reasonably decided for his return to basketball and to the Bulls. Many fans were delighted to see the return of the most exciting player return to the courts.
After the death of his father and his stint with baseball, Jordan returned to his true love, basketball; and to resume his record breaking career. After his return to basketball, he played as if he had never left, leading the Bulls to a 70-win season and a return to the Finals in 1995. On Dec. 30, Michael scored in double digits for the 788th consecutive game, breaking Kareem Abdul Jabbers record. After seven NBA championships, Michael decided to retire from basketball. Yet with his charismatic ego and motivation to play the game, Michael returned once again to basketball, this time with the Washington Wizards. Two unsuccessful seasons later, at age 40, Michael decided to call it quits. In his final game played, he scored the final shot against the 76ers. Michael Jordan ended his career with 32,292 points, the 3rd highest in NBA history. Although many say he tarnished his career by playing with the unproductive Wizards, his leadership, long-term career and personal motivation cannot be dismissed. Arguably, Michael’s later achievements were more astonishing than before, with the strength of his spirit still strong, and knowledge of the game.
The mark of a great player is shown by an evolution of the game as it progresses. Michael changed the way basketball was played and contributed invaluable amounts of wisdom to younger players. Michael was most known for his offensive threat, but he taught others the fundamentals of great defense. He was the definition of a franchise player, bringing glory and fame to the Chicago Bulls who became the envy of every NBA team. He was also a member of the Olympic Dream Team that received the Gold Medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Spain. Off the court, Michael set up his own charity foundation, and helps poor children in violent neighborhoods. Never in trouble with the law, Michael became the ideal model citizen to represent the NBA.
The most inspirational and energetic player in the NBA never lost the thirst to succeed and the preservation to win. MJ will go down in history as the definition of competition at its best. Through tough times and tragedy, Michael never gave up and pressed on. The reason for Michael’s illustrious success has been nothing short of hard work and never surrendering. His will to win, at any cost, has motivated many athletes and non-athletes alike to set goals for themselves and to reach them.
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The early years.
Michael Jordan was one of five children born to James and Delores
Jordan. He was born February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn. The Jordans' felt that
the streets of Brooklyn were unsafe to raise a young family of five
children. Instead of trying to endure the streets of Brooklyn, the Jordan
family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. James got a job in
Wilmington as a mechanic and Delores got a job as a teller at United
Carolina Bank. The Jordan's always stressed the value of manners to their
children. The above examples typified Michael Jordan's early years.
Michael's first love.
Michael always had an eye for baseball. He played as an outfielder and
as a pitcher. When he was twelve, he was the top player in his league.
Michael had his picture placed in the Morning Star, which is Wilmington's
newspaper. By the age of fifteen, he wasn't the star in baseball he once
was. He was still very good, but he had lost some of his focus. Later, in his
high school career, he dropped baseball to pursue another interest.
Basketball and Michael.
When Michael was younger he adopted the game of basketball. Mike
used to work with his father in the garage. While working with his father,
Michael picked up the habit of sticking his tongue out in an intense
situation. When Michael reached the ninth grade, he tried out for
basketball. Coach Lynch, Michael's coach, cut Michael which in turn may
have made the best player alive today. Michael then took practicing
basketball to another level. He played his brother Larry whenever he
could. Michael never expected what would come in the near future.
The College Years.
Michael Jordan went to the University of North Carolina as a basketball
recruit. Even though Jordan at 6'5" was a man with potential, he still
studied very hard in an attempt to get a good education, while competing
in sports. Mike wasn't expected to be a star of the Tar Heels, since they
had players such as James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and Al Wood. By the end
of the 1981-82 season, Jordan, as a freshman, was an everyday starter.
Carolina reached the Final Four with the help of Jordan, who had sixteen
points and led the team with nine rebounds. In the final twenty seconds,
Michael made a title winning shot from the left baseline. In Michael's
sophomore and junior seasons, he was voted College Basketball's Player of
the Year. Through Michael's three years at Carolina, he average 17.7
points per game, while maintaining a "B" average.
The Rookie Season.
After a great college career, Michael was drafted by the Chicago Bulls as
the third pick of the 1984-85 season. Michael quickly signed a $6.15
million contract. Michael made a huge impact in the National Basketball
Association. He made such an impact that he was selected to be an
alternate on the Eastern Division All-Star squad. During his rookie season
with the Bulls, companies started picturing Jordan on posters and on
television. Jordan led the Bulls to a 38 win and 44 loss season. Jordan
averaged 28.2 points per game, while setting a team record with 2,313
points. He won the Schick Pivotal Player of the Year Award, Seagram's
NBA Pivotal Player of the Year Award, and the honor of Rookie of the year.
Michael and Endorsements.
With Michael's growing success in the NBA, more and more companies
wanted to use the "Air Jordan" name. One of the first companies to use his
name was Nike. Nike paid Michael $2.5 million, so they could begin a line
of shoes known as "Air Jordan's." Nike sold 2.3 million pairs for $65. Other
companies would attempt to endorse Jordan. These companies include
Coca-Cola, Wilson basketballs, McDonald's, Excelcior Internantion (Time
Jordan watches), Wheaties and Gatorade to name a few.
Most Valuable Player.
During the 1987-88 season, Jordan raised his game to another level.
The Bulls status was also raised to another level with the additions of
Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. Michael was having another great season
and this was evidenced when he started on the Eastern Division All-Star
squad. During the All-Star games Jordan won the slam-dunk contest. He
then finished the season, leading the Bulls in scoring for 81 games out of
the 82 game season. Michael averaged 35 points per game. For his efforts,
Jordan was selected as the Most Valuable Player and as Defensive Player of
The First Championship.
During the 1990-91 season, Chicago went on a rampage. The Bulls had
61 wins and 21 losses, which was the best record in franchise history.
Michael averaged 31.5 points which won him his fifth scoring title. The
Bulls reached the NBA finals for the first time in Jordan's career. The Bulls
faced the Los Angeles Lakers which was called a dream matchup between
Michael and Magic Johnson. Chicago won the series rather easily. Jordan
was voted Most Valuable Player of the finals.
Jordan Quits Basketball.
Michael Jordan announced after winning his third consecutive NBA
championship, that he was stepping down from the game he loved. He said
that he was tired of the pressures. Some people believe that Jordan's
gambling debts caused Jordan to quit. Others believe that the slaying of
his father which happened on August 15, 1993 caused Jordan to quit.
There is one final theory. The theory is that Michael wanted to pursue
one of his childhood dreams, professional baseball.
Michael and Baseball.
Michael Jordan announced that he would pursue his dream of playing
baseball. Jordan joined the Chicago White Sox organization. The White
Sox gave Jordan a tryout and then decided that he would be best playing
with the Birmingham Barons. When Mike hit his first home run on July 30,
he pointed to the sky honoring his father. However Jordan struggled in
baseball, with a horrible average. Jordan would soon be back to the game
After spending 17 months away from the game he loved, Michael Jordan
came back on March 18, 1995. Although he was back, number 23 was not
back. Jordan came back as number 45. In his first few weeks back, Jordan's
shot was off, although his superb leadership was back. In one game
Michael showed flashes of his old self. Michael scored 55 points in a game
at Madison Square Garden in New York. A few weeks later, Michael, a very
superstitious man, switched his number from 45 to 23. Although the Bulls
were defeated by the Orlando Magic in the playoffs, the Bulls went on their
best winning streak of the season.
Michael Jordan has been called the best basketball player ever by Magic
Johnson. Jordan has led the NBA in scoring an amazing seven times.
Jordan is only the second player to score 3000 points in one season, with
the other being Wilt Chamberlain. Mike was voted Defensive Player of the
Year in 1988. Jordan has been Most Valuable Player of the NBA finals
three times. He was Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year in 1991.
Jordan has also received three MVP awards between 1988 and 1992.
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