“‘Win’ has an I in it.”
This adage can only be ascribed to one athlete, and that athlete is none other than Michael Jordan. From his collegiate days at North Carolina, the Chicago Bulls great enthralled the country and used his professional career to shatter stereotypes of what a basketball player could be. Over his 15-year NBA career, Jordan rose to become an international legend and is still a sensation today.
Before the emergence of social media, this all happened.
Basketball players of today, such as LeBron James, Candace Parker, Damian Lillard, Breanna Stewart, and Kevin Durant, have developed fan bases by excelling on and off the court. A person’s brand is becoming more and more significant. Jordan, however, essentially invented his brand.
Here are 60 interesting facts about the six-time NBA champion’s life off the court, his impact on pop culture, and his career in basketball as he approaches his 60th birthday on Friday.
The early years of Michael Jordan
1. James and Delores Jordan welcomed Michael Jordan into the world on February 17, 1963. At the time of his birth, the couple was residing in Brooklyn, New York; however, they later relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina. Jordan has a younger sister, an elder sister, and two older brothers.
2. Growing up, Michael Jordan was inspired by his basketball-playing brother, Larry. They both wore No. 45 jerseys, but the younger brother had to choose a different number when they played on the same team. He divided 45 in half and then rounded it up to 23. He continued to use it throughout college, in the NBA, and as an icon.
3. Michael Jordan only wore 45 after deciding to wear 23 once, in March 1995, after his initial retirement. Before struggling in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and concluding he had greater luck with No. 23, he played out the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs wearing the new number.
4. James Jordan and Michael Jordan had a tight relationship. He confessed in “The Final Dance” that during his ninth-grade year, he was banned three times until his father helped him get back on track.
That summer, he recalled, “my father grabbed me aside and said, ‘Look, you don’t look like you’re heading in the right direction. You can disregard sports if you want to go about doing all this nefarious stuff. I only needed to hear that. From that moment on, I seemed to have tunnel vision.
5. Michael Jordan didn’t make the Laney (North Carolina) High School varsity basketball team during his sophomore year. He was motivated to never be left off a team again by the incident.
The mythology of Michael Jordan begins in North Carolina
6. Michael Jordan made the game-winning jump shot for the North Carolina Tar Heels in their 1982 national championship win over Georgetown as a freshman.
In “The Final Dance,” he claimed, “It changed my name from Mike to Michael Jordan.” “That gave me the confidence I needed to start becoming better at basketball,” she said.
7. After returning to the University of North Carolina to finish his coursework following a foot injury, Michael Jordan earned his degree in 1986. He was a geography major.
8. Under his Chicago Bulls shorts, Michael Jordan wore a pair of North Carolina practice shorts for every game.
The world of basketball is dominated by Michael Jordan
9. The Chicago Bulls selected Michael Jordan as the third overall choice in the 1984 NBA Draft. Sam Bowie of the Portland Trail Blazers and Hakeem Olajuwon of the Houston Rockets were in front of him. Charles Barkley of the Philadelphia 76ers and John Stockton of the Utah Jazz were two more standouts in the draft class.
10. Michael Jordan was selected as the NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1984–85 season. He started all 82 games for the Chicago Bulls in his rookie season, averaging 28.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and a.515 field goal percentage.
11. In his second season, Michael Jordan broke his foot. He persevered through rehabilitation and got back into a condition.
12. On March 28, 1990, against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Michael Jordan scored 69 points in a 117-113 victory that required overtime. In his career, he recorded 60 or more points five times.
13. Since Michael Jordan was renowned as a scorer but not a winner early in his career, the legacies of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson weighed hard on him. The Chicago Bulls victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals, the first of their six championships, was a huge relief for the emerging star.
14. When the Chicago Bulls traveled to face the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals, Michael Jordan only brought one suit. In Game 5 at home, the Bulls were unable to win the championship.
He recalls telling the players in “The Final Dance” that they were “going back to win one game.” I’m not going to play two games there, I said.
He contributed 33 points in Game 6 as the Bulls won their third consecutive championship, becoming just the third club in NBA history to do so.
15. With the passing of his father in 1993, Michael Jordan declared his first retirement.
16. When Michael Jordan returned to basketball on March 18, 1995, he stunned the world. He broke the news with the oft-copied but never-repeated two words: “I’m back.”
17. In Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, also known as the “Flu Game,” against the Utah Jazz, Michael Jordan played despite having a stomach virus. He finished with 38 points, including a crucial three-pointer that gave the Chicago Bulls the victory. The following game saw Chicago win the series, and Jordan won his sixth championship.
18. Before Phil Jackson’s final season with the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan pushed for the head coach to be given a contract extension, despite initially not liking his triangle offense’s emphasis on teamwork.
In a press conference held during the 1995–96 season, he declared, “Phil should be the head coach and I shouldn’t be put in a position to have to decide to play for any coach other than Phil Jackson.” Unfortunately, I do have options. I won’t decide to play for a different coach.
19. Kobe Bryant, who joined the NBA in 1996 during Michael Jordan’s 12th season in the league, looked up to Jordan as a mentor. Bryant passed away in 2020 at the age of 41, and Jordan spoke at his memorial service.
20. Michael Jordan’s preferred venue was Madison Square Garden. He wore an old pair of Nike Jordan 1s from his debut at the storied New York venue several years prior when he played there in 1998, believing it to be his final season of basketball. Even though his feet were bleeding, he managed to score 42 points during the game.
21. After winning his sixth championship, Michael Jordan announced his second retirement in 1998. He made the game-winning jumper to help the Chicago Bulls defeat the Utah Jazz in six games in his final contest with the team.
22. Michael Jordan served as president of basketball operations and a part-owner of the Washington Wizards while taking a three-season hiatus from the NBA. On September 25, 2001, he signed a two-year contract with the team, succumbing once more to the allure of the game.
In his opinion, there is no better method to instruct young players than to compete with them on the floor, not only during practices but also during NBA games. Nothing can erase the past, but I am firmly focused on the present and the forthcoming competitive challenge.
23. On April 16, 2003, when the Washington Wizards took on the Philadelphia 76ers, Michael Jordan, then 40, played his final NBA game. 28 minutes later, he had 15 points.
24. After Michael Jordan first retired from the game in 1994, the Chicago Bulls retired his No. 23 jersey.
25. In 2003, Michael Jordan’s final season in the NBA, even though he never played for the Miami Heat, the team retired his No. 23.
26. Throughout 14 of his 15 NBA seasons, including both of his seasons with the Washington Wizards, Michael Jordan was named to the All-Star team.
27. Ten times, Michael Jordan won the NBA scoring title. He finished the 1986–87 season with 3,041 points, which is the third-highest total in history.
28. With 32,292 career points, Michael Jordan is currently ranked fifth in the NBA’s all-time scoring rankings after LeBron James overtook him.
29. Over his career, Michael Jordan received five MVP awards. In 2022, the NBA gave the prize his name.
30. In 2009, Michael Jordan became a member of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. David Thompson, a former North Carolina star, was the person he chose to portray as his childhood hero.
Michael Jordan’s dominance in the Olympics
31. Michael Jordan wore No. 9 during the Olympics since numbers beyond 15 were not permitted. He multiplied 4 and 5 to get 45, his boyhood’s favorite number.
32. Michael Jordan earned two Olympic gold medals, one in 1992 when playing for the Dream Team and one in 1984 while a college player. Jordon and the Americans won eight straight games to be named the best basketball team in the world, along with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Christian Laettner, John Stockton, and his Chicago Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen.
33. Michael Jordan, a Nike athlete, famously covered the Reebok insignia on his blazer during the 1992 Olympic gold medal ceremony by putting an American flag over his shoulders.
34. Michael Jordan won an Olympic gold medal, an NBA championship, and an NCAA championship. Only seven players, including him, have done so.
A life of its own is developed by Air Jordan
35. Michael Jordan chose to sign with Nike in 1984 despite initially wanting to deal with Adidas on the recommendation of his agents and parents. He was given a huge contract for $550,000 year for five years. The business generated sales of $126 million in the first year of the deal.
36. Since becoming a separate business in 1997, Michael Jordan’s Jordan Brand has come to be associated with brilliance, performance, and style.
37. Spike Lee used Air Jordan sneakers in his films and collaborated with the brand on advertising efforts, which helped the brand acquire popularity across the nation. He came up with the expression “Is it the shoes? The shoes must be the culprit!
38. It’s not unusual to see Air Jordan cleats on an NFL field these days. Jordan XI Concords and Jordan 1s were worn in Super Bowl 57 by Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and wide receiver Deebo Samuel of the San Francisco 49ers, respectively.
39. The Jordan 1 collaboration with Dior, which originally cost $2,200 and has now sold for $12,000, was the most expensive pair of Jordan sneakers ever to be sold at retail.
40. Many pairs of Michael Jordan’s game-used sneakers have sold for astronomical sums of money. Jordan XIIs from the “Flu Game” auctioned off for $104,675 in 2013. He broke a backboard on a dunk, and the original Jordan 1s he wore at an exhibition in Italy still have glass embedded in the sole. For $615,000, the sneakers were auctioned in 2020.
A career in baseball for Michael Jordan
41. In Game 1 of the 1993 ALCS between the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays, Michael Jordan threw out the first pitch at Comiskey Park.
42. In 1994, at the age of 31, Michael Jordan made his Minor League Baseball debut. He was an outfielder for the Birmingham Barons, a Chicago White Sox Double-A development team.
43. Michael Jordan was motivated to play baseball by his father. Bo Jackson, an All-Star outfielder for the Kansas City Royals and a Pro Bowl running back for the then-Los Angeles Raiders, was a hero to James Jordan. Jordan seized the chance to realize the goals they had discussed constantly when his father passed away in 1993.
44. Terry Francona, a baseball manager who eventually won two World Series championships, thought Michael Jordan could have succeeded in the major leagues if he had stuck with America’s Pastime.
45. In his lone season of Minor League Baseball, Michael Jordan hit.202. The hitting average, according to his manager Terry Francona, is acceptable for someone who was so rusty. Walt Hriniak, a well-known batting instructor, wasn’t too happy with his pupil performance.
Hriniak told the associated press, “I didn’t expect him to rip it up, but I expected him to do better.”
46. As a result of the 1994–1995 baseball strike, Michael Jordan’s baseball career came to an abrupt stop.
In popular culture, Michael Jordan
47. Songs like “Michael Jordan” by Kendrick Lamar and “Jumpman” by Drake and Future feature Michael Jordan as their inspiration. To link oneself with excellence, several artists, like Jay-Z, Big Pun, Lil Wayne, Fantastic, and Nicki Minaj, compare themselves to the victor in their lyrics. Even from abroad, there have been tributes to the basketball superstar, including an entire album named “Flu Game” by British rapper A.J. Tracey in 2021.
48. In the 1996 movie “Space Jam,” Michael Jordan played a role in which he was kidnapped by the Looney Tunes to save the world from a group of aliens who had stolen the talents of other NBA stars. The film, which Michael Jordan produced while getting back into condition for basketball following his initial retirement, made $90.4 million and went viral.
49. Lil Bow Wow starred in “Like Mike” in 2002. The rapper/actor, who has since deleted the “Lil” from his stage name and now goes by Shad Moss, played an orphan who discovered a pair of sneakers bearing Michael Jordan’s initials, which gave him superhuman basketball abilities. The movie showed how MJ was the celebrity that everyone wanted to be.
50. The 10-part documentary “The Final Dance” from ESPN was made available on Netflix in 2020. The world was experiencing the coronavirus epidemic when the series was released, allowing viewers to sit down and enjoy Michael Jordan’s inspirational tale of tenacity and excellence.
Jordan outside of the court
51. The father of five kids, Michael Jordan. From his first union with Juanita Vanoy, he had three children: Jasmine, Marcus, and boys Jeffrey and Jeffrey. With his present spouse, Yvette Prieto, he welcomed twin daughters, Ysabel and Victoria, in 2014. His oldest kids have taken part in his business endeavors.
52. In 2021, a game-used Michael Jordan jersey from the North Carolina Tar Heels’ championship season sold for $1.38 million, setting a record price for a Jordan jersey at the time.
53. The record for the most expensive Michael Jordan shirt was shattered in 2022. A 1998 NBA Finals game-used jersey that sold for $10.1 million. Not only did it surpass the previous Jordan jersey record, but also established the price for the most expensive sports collectible ever.
54. Sheryl Swoopes, a WNBA standout and the first player in women’s basketball to get her signature shoe, the Nike Air Swoopes, was a friend of Michael Jordan’s in the 1990s. Her Airness was the four-time WNBA champion.
55. Upon his second retirement, Michael Jordan’s autobiography, “For the Love of the Game: My Story,” was published in 1998.
56. Together with fellow NASCAR star Denny Hamlin, Michael Jordan is a co-owner of the NASCAR team 23XI Racing. The team was established by the two in 2020 with the help of Bubba Wallace, who went on to win his maiden race at Talladega Superspeedway in 2021, becoming the second Black driver to do so in the Cup Series.
57. For an estimated $275 million in 2010, Michael Jordan acquired a majority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats, who are now known as the Charlotte Hornets. Kemba Walker, a three-time All-Star with the NBA and a college sensation, was under his tutelage. After Walker left, the Hornets selected LaMelo Ball, the NBA Rookie of the Year for 2020–21.
58. Michael Jordan enjoys playing golf a lot. He spent the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona playing 36 holes of golf each day. From 2001 until 2014, he served as the host of his charity event, the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. He also owns The Grove XXIII, a golf course in Florida.
59. Michael Jordan can be seen puffing on a cigar in some of the most well-known images of him. The celebrity does, however, actually like smoking cigars in addition to utilizing them as a victory symbol. He stated, “That is the most soothing thing,” in an interview with Cigar Aficionado. A favorite of his? The Lusitanias Partagas.
60. Michael Jordan gave $10 million to Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit he has supported since 1989, to commemorate his 60th birthday. According to the charity, it was the biggest donation in its history.
It has been a privilege for the past 34 years to work with Make-A-Wish and contribute to the happiness and smiles of so many children, he said. It has been very inspiring to see how strong and resilient they have been at such a trying time in their life.