"I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."
- Michael Jordan
- Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is universally recognized as the greatest basketball player in the history of the game. No wonder, when a poll was conducted amongst world sporting greats to name one sportsperson that they admired the most and did not belong to their sport, the most common answer was 'Michael Jordan'.
Growing Up Years
Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born on February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York. The family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina when he was still a toddler. Jordan is the fourth of five children, having two older brothers and an older and younger sister. Michael's dad worked as an equipment supervisor while his mother worked at a bank.
Jordan played basketball for Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina. Ironically, Jordan was cut from the varsity team as a sophomore because he was not tall enough at 5'11 (1.80m).
"Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I'd close my eyes and see that list in the locker room without my name on it," Jordan said, "and that usually got me going again." He eventually made the team and led it to the state championship.
Jordan soon became the star of Laney's Junior varsity squad, through which he collected many a 40 point a game! He grew taller and was 6'3 by the time he was a senior in high school. He was selected by McDonald's All-American Team, because of his average of one triple-double, 29 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 10.1 assists during high school.
Inception Into NBA
The records Jordan hold are praiseworthy. In 1984, Michael Jordan was the third player to be drafted after Hakeem Olajuwon and Sam Bowie. Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. Jordan went on to guide the Bulls to six NBA Championships (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998). During all his championship winning years he was also named as NBA Finals MVP.
He instantly became a hot favorite among his fans as well as opponents and featured on the cover page of Sports Illustrated as 'A Star is Born'. He gained mass media publicity and was soon a household name in America. This led to negative vibes as it caused many extremely famous and brilliant basketball players disliking him.
They believed that Jordan was hyped and it was too early in the season to make such assumptions about his caliber. This boycott was called the Freeze-Out, which led to many teammates not passing him the ball, sometimes throughout the game.
Michael Jordan was named NBA Rookie of the Year in 1985. The Bulls lost the season and were defeated in four games against the Milwaukee during the first round of the playoffs.
During a game in 1985, Jordan broke his foot, and returned to mainstream in 1986-1987 season; which saw one of the best performances that NBA had ever witnessed. He scored a whooping 3,000 points in this season, which placed him in the same footing as Wilt Chamberlain. He also became the first player to score 200 steals and 100 blocks in a season.
Jordan holds the All-Star record having the only triple-double in an All-Star game in 1997. Michael scored a career playoff-high 63 points against Boston on May 20, 1986.
During this season, Jordan won the MVP award (Most Valuable Player), as well as the Defensive Player of the Year, for his 1.6 blocks, and 3.16 steals during each game on an average. In this season, the Bulls were defeated by the Bad Boys from Pistons, led by Isiah Thomas.
The Bulls won against the Cavaliers and New York Knick in 1988-1989 season. It also saw the making of the The Shot, in the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round; game 5th, against the Cavaliers, during which Michael Jordan made the winning shot.
During this entire season, the Bulls kept losing to the Pistons at the final game, no matter how hard they tried. Probably because of the Piston team's specific, 'Jordan Rules', which required a two-three team member guard, every time Jordan got possession of the ball.
Jordan received his second MVP during 90-91 season, and also defeated the Pistons, which did not go well with Isiah Thomas as he led his team back to the locker room, without formal congratulations. Bulls won the entire NBA season for the first time. Jordan won his first NBA Finals MVP, which also saw him break into tears of joy as he held the Golden Trophy!
Michael Jordan holds the single series NBA Finals record for highest PPG average. Jordan was named in the All-NBA First Team ten times. He holds the record for leading the scoring in the most number of seasons '10'. A testimony to his dominance in the Chicago Bulls team was that he was the highest scorer, had the most steals and assists in the team.
The Bulls team had players of the caliber of Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoč. Jordan's famous number 23 jersey was retired on November 1, 1994. He has hit 28 game-winning shots in the NBA. Jordan was a member of the gold medal-winning 1984 and 1992 United States Olympic Basketball Teams.
First Retirement After Father's Death
Jordan shocked the NBA by announcing his retirement prior to the 1993-94 season. He claimed that, he lost interest for the game after his father (James R. Jordan Sr) was mugged and murdered. He spent the year playing minor league baseball for the Class AA Birmingham Barons of the Chicago White Sox organization.
His stint in baseball was a short-lived affair and he was soon back in the familiar Red and White Chicago Bulls jersey. The breakup of the Bulls dynasty by Jerry Krause led to Jordan's second retirement. Jordan stated he would not play basketball for anyone else other than Phil Jackson.
Michael Jordan later joined the Washington Wizards as President of Basketball Operations and part owner in January 2000. But his attempts to turn around the Washington Wizards from the sidelines were a failure. A situation that was alien and completely unacceptable to man compels him to do things that were perceived as unachievable.
1995-2000 - "I'm Back"
Michael Jordan's burning desire to help the Bulls back on track and succeed, motivated him to once again return as a basketball player in 1995, and turn the Wizards franchise around. He scored the winning jump-shot in the game against Atlanta.
Jordan began training, informing the media, at first, he was only doing it to lose weight. He worked himself into basketball shape during the summer by holding several invitation-only camps of pickup games with other NBA players at a Chicago gym.
The Bulls won the NBA Finals in 1995-1996 season and he won the MVP in finals for the fourth time. In 1996-1970, he and his team won the championship on Father's Day, which saw him break down in the locker room, since this was his first championship since his father's unforeseen death.
Jordan notched his 30,000th point on January 4, 2002 against the Bulls. He became the only 40-year-old NBA player to ever score over 40 points on February 21, 2003. Unfortunately, Jordan was never able to lead his Wizards into the post season as a player.
He retired for a third and final time after playing his final game on April 16, 2003. Michael Jordan's ability to rise above his peers and competitors is captured by his statement, "body could stand the crutches but my mind couldn't stand the sideline".