MJ, as he is known, (no it’s not the moon walker) is 6 feet plus another 6 inches, a professional basketball player, an entrepreneur and owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Yes, he is Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Born on February 17th 1963, Michael was born into a cubbyhole of athletes. He was the fourth child to his parents Deloris and James R. Jordan. The family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina to keep their children away from the drug-worshipping streets of Brooklyn. Much to one’s surprise, this famous slam-dunker’s first love was baseball. However, his brother Larry initiated him into the sport and he kept going until his 5’11 inches was no more a handicap.
“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them” was his mantra, and his first rejection in sophomore year was only a minor blip in his burgeoning career ahead. Awards began to pour in as his talent was recognised and Michael began ascending the stairway to success rapidly. In 1984, he won the Olympic gold medal and “Rookie of the Year” Award from the NBA. Michael went on to attend college from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in cultural geography.
In his first season Michael was critiqued for roaming in defence and not having a good shooting range. But he continued to work harder and harder, creating his own style that became a treat for viewers. Jordan’s matches were usually played to a full house and even opposing team supporters went home feeling their money had been well-spent, even if their team lost.
Brand “Air Jordan” came to life when he signed a major deal with Nike. Clauses, such as the “love- of- the- game clause” were introduced, which allowed him to play even during the off-season.
Ever wondered how kids wore baggy shorts that were not short enough to be called shorts nor long enough to be called pants?
Yes, “His Airness,” as he was known, set the trend of baggy shorts that used to cover a pair of ‘lucky shorts’ which he wore beneath. Extending his stay in the little hearts of children, he dipped his toes in the world of cinema with “Space Jam”. He won his first MVP award in the 1987-88 season, followed by another in the 1990-91 season. A juggernaut on the court, he took the Chicago Bulls to the NBA finals for the first time ever and broke down in tears when he won the NBA finals trophy.
The NBA website states that he is the greatest basketball player of all time but he always had his head in the game without compromising his humility. In his book, For The Love of The Game: My Story, Jordan wrote:
“There is no such thing as a perfect basketball player, and I don’t believe there is only one greatest player either. Everyone plays in different eras. I built my talents on the shoulders of someone else’s talent. I believe greatness is an evolutionary process that changes and evolves era to era. Without Julius Erving, David Thompson, Walter Davis, and Elgin Baylor there would never have been a Michael Jordan. I evolved from them.”
The court grew dim when Michael decided to draw the curtains in 1993 and retire, stating his loss of interest in the game. His father’s murder was another cited reason as he was very close to him. Jordan created a signature style of sticking his tongue out when shooting as his father used to do when he was deeply involved in his work. Michael fired up the courts soon after by signing a deal and then playing in the NBA for the Bulls. His form slipped with his gambling habit but made sure it never affected his family. His time away from the game only made him realise he wanted to play more and he went on to win several games and prove his mettle. In 1999 he announced his second retirement and entered as a part owner of Washington Wizards. Though he was very sure that he would never return, he slam dunked his way into the hearts of crowds and satiated their hunger.
Age was no bar: he was the first forty-year-old to tally up a 43 points in a NBA game. However, with age comes experience and he began to openly rebuke his team mates for lack of focus and training. April 16, 2003 was the last time “Michael Magic” was on display. He received a standing ovation for three whole minutes from his team mates and the crowd. Post retirement, Jordan emerged into golf and philanthropy. He went on to become the first NBA player to be a majority owner of a basketball league franchise.
In 2010, Forbes Magazine ranked him as the 20th most powerful celebrity in the world. He is one of the most highly marketed sportsman, with several brands raking in money under his name. With his repertoire, he single-handedly globalised the NBA.
As Magic Johnson said, “There’s Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us.”