Thousands have stepped foot on the basketball courts of the NBA. Millions play the game. And a billion know who the greatest player of the game ever is. Such was his colossal stride on the game; a brand was initiated to encapsulate his dominance on and off the court. “His Airness” as we lovingly proclaim him has changed the face of the game not only in America, but across the globe. Since this man’s draft in 1984, he has changed the face of the game to an extent that basketball has become the second most popular sport in America and has governed a huge market across the globe. Nearly every other fan would name him as their favorite player or the inspiration behind them taking up the game. In fact, I would too.
Here is a testament of Michael Jordan – easily the greatest player to ever grace the wooden floor!
Michael Jordan, basketball’s favorite son, was born in Brooklyn. While he grew up in a middle-class neighborhood, MJ’s father always stressed that his son should unever forget how fortunate his life is in retrospect with other struggling minorities. His father was an equipment supervisor while his mother dealt with banks. At a very tender age, he moved to North Carolina with his family due to economic reasons.
Being a New York native and North Carolina migrant, he was exposed to sports from day one. Jordan’s prowess was unmatchable in Emsley Laney High School where he excelled in American Football, Basketball and Baseball. However, heartbreak nearly curtailed Jordan’s basketball career since his coach deemed him too short for the varsity team but soon fortunes changed.
The following summer, he grew 4 inches in height, totaled nearly 35 points a game in the JV squad and proved his dexterity by topping the rebounds and assists columns. Now that he proved his essential worth, Jordan wasn’t denied a spot in the Varsity team, a decision his coach only regretted not making it earlier. Following his monumental productions in junior and senior year, he was a consensus All-American and touted college recruit.
An offer came from Dean Smith and North Carolina which Jordan couldn’t decline. At Chapel Hill in NC, he turned into a national sensation hitting numerous game winners where his iconic jump shot rose to fame. Before he declared himself eligible for the 1984 NBA draft, he was an ACC Freshmen of the Year, All-American, USBWA College Player of the Year, Rupp Trophy, Wooden Player of the Year and Naismith College Player of the Year. After three years sporting the Tar Heels’ jersey, he bowed out to enter the NBA with 17.7 PPG, 5 RPG and nearly 4 APG. Although he wasn’t favored to be picked number one overall, he was a sure shot to being taken at the number 2 spot by Portland. Surprise came when Portland instead opted for Sam Bowie (one of the biggest draft busts) and Chicago resorted to Jordan. Who knew? What was to be Portland’s loss turned out to become Chicago’s biggest gain?
To describe Jordan’s achievements in the NBA as extraordinary is an understatement. He won the Slam Dunk contest in 1987 and ’88, with many describing his show time performance in the latter event as the greatest ever. In almost every one of his professional seasons, he was voted into All-Star and progressively won 5 regular season MVP awards. To further cement himself into an unassailable lead as the best in the game, he won a record 10 scoring championships, 6 NBA Finals MVPs, 3 NBA steal titles and Defensive Player of the Year in 1988. And finally, to top the chart, he won 6 consecutive NBA championships. Apart from his stats, MJ 23 was a thorn in the opponents half with numerous stars of the era including Pat Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon stating the improbability to block a Jordan jump shot.
After his rookie year, Jordan became a heartthrob in fan’s hearts after which began the MJ 23 craze. His career might have hit a roadblock following his promulgated move to baseball where he failed miserably to make the cut. Tragedy correspondingly hit his family when his inspirational father passed away. Despite all this, Jordan was motivated to prove his critics wrong. He left the league in ’93 and came back in the 96-97 season to win his second three peat. In 2001, he proceeded to another comeback with the Washington Wizards where he totaled a 22 PPG and 5.2 APG season – a statistic that rightfully earned him the tag of ‘the franchise player of the year.’
In the present day, Jordan sits on the sidelines in Charlotte managing a lackluster Bobcats franchise. His involvement with the game hasn’t reduced, nor have his followers betrayed his trust. Irrespective of how many players enter the NBA fray, none will covet the game like Jordan did.
6 NBA titles, 6 NBA Finals MVPs, 5 regular season MVPs, 14 All-Stars, 3 Steals Championships, 1 Defensive Player of the Year, 10 All-NBA First Teams, 9 All-NBA Defensive Teams and literally, every major college award – Michael Jeffrey Jordan has wished and lived the dream of every basketball fanatic on this planet.
To sum it best, who better to quote than His Airness himself, “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.” (Espn.com)
The final list:
5. Magic Johnson
4. Larry Bird
3. Bill Russell
2. Kareem Abdul Jabbar
1. Michael Jordan