Think about sports back in the 90s for a second. You probably couldn’t think of a better athlete than Michael Jordan. At the time, he was the face of the Chicago Bulls, a budding MLB star, and was even in the movie and fashion scene. He was someone you couldn’t mess with or measure up to. He won an incredible six NBA titles in eight years. Even when he wasn’t his best, he was still able to pack the house in the arenas for the Washington Wizards. Michael “His Airness” Jordan’s life has been full of success, but he’s also had his fair share of drama.
Keep reading to find out everything there is to know about one of the best NBA players of all time. You won’t believe how far he went to stay loyal to Nike at the Olympics!
"You're Too Short!"
Surprisingly, Michael Jordan didn’t always want to play basketball. He initially wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and play baseball. We aren’t sure when he fell in love with basketball. However, when he tried out for his high school basketball team during sophomore year, they told him he was too short!
Michael wasn’t someone who would quit anything, so he began obsessing over the sport, practicing as much as possible to sharpen his skills. The summer following his sophomore year he went through a growth spurt and gained an additional four inches. When he tried out again, something amazing happened.
Third Overall Pick
During Michael Jordan’s junior and senior year, he was averaging about 25 points a game. While playing in his final season, he was chosen to play for the McDonald’s All-American team. I’m sure you can guess who made the winning shots. Colleges were lining up out the door to recruit him.
He eventually accepted a scholarship offer from North Carolina. After playing three seasons for North Carolina, Michael Jordan entered the NBA in 1984. The Chicago Bulls took him with the third overall pick, and they were sure glad they did.
A Weatherman Was His Plan B Career
Michael Jordan had said that if basketball didn’t pan out for him, he was going to pursue a career as a weatherman. To back that up, he went back to finish school in 1986 to obtain his degree in cultural geography which is an intro to meteorology.
In order to become a weatherman, one would need to study meteorology. He decided to get his first degree just in case the Chicago Bulls decided to cut him from the team. Obviously, things turned out well for him in the NBA and never used his degree.
Rookie of the Year
Michael Jordan killed it his first year in the league by averaging 28 points per game, was named an All-Star, and won Rookie of the Year. If that wasn’t enough of an accomplishment, he also scored 40 or more points in six games. In most cases, it takes players one to two years to fully develop, but Michael Jordan proved he was ready to go from the start.
Jordan wasn’t satisfied with just being a rookie sensation. After two years of being in the NBA, he went back to college to get a degree in Geography.
Against All Odds
Something amazing happened when Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls joined forces. For eight years they never lost more than three games in a row, including the playoffs! This included a total of 500 games and 126 playoff games.
There was a man named Ben Blatt, who was part of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, and he did the math to figure out the odds of something like this would ever happen again. His results founded that it would be one in 140. Many of us are wondering if it will ever happen again.
Second to Chamberlain
As we all know, Michael Jordan is considered to be the greatest basketball player of all time. Why? He was 6-0 in finals series appearances. With that being said, he was second best to Wilt Chamberlain. Jordan came in second to scoring 3,000 points in a season in 1986.
Jordan tried his best, but Wilt Chamberlain had scored 4,000 points two decades earlier. However, Jordan did beat Wilt at one thing, and that is his 30.12 career points per game average beats Chamberlain’s by .05 points.
He Looked Up to Magic Johnson
Michael Jordan truly idolized Magic Johnson growing up. During his NBA career, he wanted to be referred to as “Magic” Jordan. We’re glad that it didn’t stick. “His Airness” has a better ring to it anyway.
In honor of Magic Johnson, Jordan had a personalized license plate made for his first car which was a 1976 Grand Prix. Long gone are his days of idolizing him because now he works with him as an owner. Johnson co-owns the Dodgers and Michael Jordan owns the Hornets.
One of the Top Players of All Time
It’s obvious that Michael Jordan holds many records, but there is one that he didn’t achieve until he reached his 40s. It is still true today that Jordan is the only player over the age of 40 to average 20 points during a game and score over 40 in a game.
In 1996, which was before his career was over, he was listed as one of the top NBA players of all-time.
He Received His Biggest Salary in 1998
If you’ve heard the Michael Jordan earned around $4 million a season and wondered if it was true, it is. For the 90s, that was a ton of money. In 1997 however, he had a huge jump in his earnings where he went from $4 million to $30 million. The following year he earned $33 million.
If Jordan was still playing ball, there’s no way we could imagine the kind of money he would be raking in.
Slam Dunk King
Michael Jordan was a guy who knew how to put on a show for the crowd. Although he wasn’t the tallest player in the NBA, he knew that fans loved a slam dunk. During one of his games, a fan challenged him to dunk on “somebody your own size” after posturizing 6’1” John Stockton.
Next, he took a leap of faith and took on Melvin Turpin who was 6’11”. Turpin should’ve been able to block him easily, but he failed, and the crowd went wild.
He's Super Loyal to Nike
The way sponsorships work with athletes is that they cannot be found in pictures wearing another brand. However, conflict can arise. For example, the 1992 Olympics had their clothing made by Reebok, which obviously caused issues for Michael since he was sponsored by Nike.
Out of total loyalty to Nike, Jordan would always wear the American flag over his shoulders in an effort to hide the Reebok logo. In his defense, he said, “the American flag cannot deface anything.”
The Story Behind the Flu Game
It goes without saying that when you play sports, there’s always going to be someone on the opposing team who is going to try to ruin you. With that being said, there’s a theory on how Michael Jordan contracted the flu. The players, including Jordan, wanted to order room service but it was too late.
They ordered a pizza instead, and strangely, five men showed up at the time of the delivery. Jordan was the only player who ate the pizza, and a few hours later he called the team trainers because he was viciously sick with food poisoning.
He Eats the Same Meal Before Every Game
Believe it or not, but Michael Jordan was a pretty superstitious guy. Prior to every game, you could find him eating a 23-ounce New York strip steak, a side salad, mashed or baked potatoes, and ginger ale. Can you think of a better meal for a king?
There were other athletes who shared the same idea. One of those being Ryan Vogelsong who is the former MLB pitcher. He used to eat enchiladas the night before a start. It was then during one of the San Francisco Giants’ World series runs they became known as “rally enchiladas.”
He's Worn Three Different Numbers on His Jersey
Michael Jordan is probably most famous for wearing the number 23, but you may not know that wasn’t the only number he has ever worn. To honor his brother Larry, he would sometimes wear the number 45.
Another time he wore the number 12 because, during a game in 1990, an arena employee located in Orlando stole his gamer. During that specific game, he scored a total of 49 points.
He Always Dressed in Layers During Games
There may be rumors about Michael Jordan that we can’t confirm, but one that we can is that he would wear his UNC shorts under his Chicago Bulls shorts. Those shorts were so baggy, but it was only because it was the only way that he could wear both.
This became such an unintended trend that happened by accident that other players started to do that same.
He Almost Wore A Fake Jersey
There was a time when Michael Jordan almost wore a replica jersey that a fan wore to the game. If you recall, his jersey was stolen the day he ended up wearing the number 12. Sadly, the jersey didn’t fit so he had to settle.
The number 23 has become so special to athletes that they try to snag the number in tribute to one of the greatest basketball players there ever was. Jordan, of course!
The Famous Tongue Out
Michael Jordan, his father, and grandfather all had something in common and that was sticking their tongue out when they needed to focus.
Jordan’s first basketball coach just so happened to be his own dad. It obviously seemed to work for Jordan very well.
He Was Rejected by Adidas
In today’s world, one cannot imagine a company who wouldn’t want to sponsor Michael Jordan. The Jordan brand is a multibillion-dollar company, all thanks to Nike. Adidas chose to not sponsor Jordan because they were only looking to sponsor athletes who were seven feet tall.
Unfortunately, Jordan missed the mark by half a foot. This would be a decision that Adidas would later regret.
In order to promote the Air Jordan brand shoes, Nike uses the “Jumpman” logo, which looks like Michael Jordan doing a slam dunk mid-air. However, the logo came about from a photo shoot for Life magazine in 1984.
Life had staged Jordan performing a ballet move called the “grand jete”, which imitates him going into the air. However, if you look at the logo and then watch Jordan dunk in real life, you’ll see that the two are very different.
Fined For Wearing His Own Shoes
As we’ve stated previously, Michael Jordan was fiercely loyal to Nike. He was so set on selling Jordan’s that he wore his red and black shoes during his games. According to the NBA dress code, this was a violation and he was fined every time he wore them.
This was pocket change for him, and he willingly paid them each time he was fined. After all, he was one of the top paid athletes in the entire world.
Billion Dollar Brand
Michael Jordan collaborated to start his Air Jordan brand with Nike in 1985. It has become one of the most successful shoe lines there has ever been. So successful in fact that Jordan earns roughly $60 million a year from it.
The brand as a whole is said to be valued at over one billion dollars. Air Jordan has been around for over 30 years and is still popular as ever. Every time Jordan comes out with a new release, fans line up at the doors to get their hands on the new pair.
Before Space Jam
By reading the title you’re probably thinking that we’re referring the Space Jam but we’re not. Before that film came out, Michael Jordan himself was made into a cartoon. A show called ProStars aired for two years, which turned hi, Bo Jackson, and Wayne Gretzky into superhero cartoons.
The players did not voice their own characters, but they answered fan questions. Trying to find clips of the show would be hard to find today however, you may be able to find some on YouTube.
What Inspired the Space Jam Film?
The classic Space Jam was released in 1996. The movie has Michael Jordan pairing up with Bugs Bunny as they try to beat the Monstars at a basketball game to save the planet. As we all know now, the movie was a total hit. However, this wasn’t the first time Michael was seen on TV with Bugs Bunny.
Warner Brothers came up with the idea for the film after the popular 1993 Nike commercial. The brand put the two together in a commercial that aired during the Super Bowl. Space Jam would end up being the highest grossing basketball film of all time.
Tragedy struck in 2001 when the twin towers were attacked. Michael Jordan chose to donate his entire years’ salary to the victims. His first $100,000 went to the children who lost their parents and the remaining went to relief efforts.
Athletes were so eager to help the victims that in 2017, Eagles defense player Chris Long donated his salary to educational equality efforts.
He Donates Money From His Lawsuits Wins As Well
Part of protecting your brand is suing other companies who try to profit off you, and that’s just what Michael Jordan did. He has donated to 23 different charities in total for every lawsuit he has won.
Speaking of charities he’s donated to he said, “The 23 charities I’ve chosen to make donations to all support the health, education, and well-being of the kids of Chicago. Chicago has given me so much and I want to give back to its kids—the city’s future.”
He Has Beef With Sports Illustrated
Not every sports publication was on board with Michael Jordan when he switched careers to play for the Chicago White Sox. Sports Illustrated wrote, “Michael Jordan has no more business patrolling right field in Comiskey Park than Minnie Minoso has bringing the ball upcourt for the Chicago Bulls."
As you can imagine, Jordan was not at all a fan of this and hasn’t spoken with Sports Illustrated since it was published. In all fairness, his transition into the MLB was not the best. He played one season for the White Sox minor league system but never made it onto the major league roster.
Why He Gave Baseball a Swing?
The first time Michael Jordan retired from the NBA was because he said that he lacked the desire to keep playing. However, the real reason had to do with the passing of his father. It was his father’s dream to see Jordan play baseball, so he wanted to bring that dream to life.
The transition from the Chicago Bulls to the White Sox was fairly easy for Jordan because the two teams had the same owner. During his minor league career, Jordan hit -202 with three home runs and 51 runs batted in. After what we would call a second wind for basketball, Jordan rejoined the NBA in 1995 and was ready to win more titles.
His Very Own "Love Of The Game" Clause
Most athletes had clauses in their contracts. A clause would prohibit a player from playing sports outside of their profession. However, there was an exception for Michael Jordan. He had something called a “love of the game” clause which would allow him to play pick-up basketball games at any time, against whoever he wanted.
To compare, in 2019, Patrick Mahomes was told that he could no longer play basketball during the off-season because the risk of injury was too high.
Third Time's a Charm
As we found out earlier, Michael Jordan first retired from the NBA in 1994, but after leaving the MLB, he went back to the Bulls in 1995. He won another three titles with Chicago and retired again saying that he was done for good.
Ten years later he made a comeback and played for the Washington Wizards, but after suffering some injuries he retired for the last time.
He Loves To Gamble
Michael Jordan didn’t hide the fact that he liked to gamble. In 1993, he was seen at an Atlantic City Casino the night before a playoff game against the New York Knicks. Although he is worth millions of dollars, he lost roughly $60,000 that night.
It was in 2005 when Michael finally opened up about his gambling problem in an interview with 60 minutes. “I’ve gotten myself into situations where I would not walk away and I’ve pushed the envelope. Is that compulsive? Yeah, it depends on how you look at it. If you’re willing to jeopardize your livelihood and your family, then yeah.”
Michael Jordan is terribly afraid of water, even if he is own a boat. When he was young, he was in the ocean with a friend when an undertow came through. Unfortunately, he couldn’t free himself and he drowned.
Several years later another traumatic experience happened when Michael Jordan almost drowned while he was at baseball camp. As you can probably imagine, his reasons for being essentially petrified of water are pretty valid.
He Became a Smoker in 1991
It’s no secret that Michael Jordan has had his addictions. In 1991, he began smoking due to the stress of the long drive to the stadium. It wasn’t long for this to turn into an addiction. He was one of the lucky ones in the sense that it didn’t affect is performed during the games.
Smoking can cause a lot of damage to the body but as long as he was performing at the level he always did, they didn’t say anything.
He's Owns Majority of the Charlotte Hornets Team
By 2010, Michael Jordan was the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. This was a dream come true for Jordan because they were his hometown team. They should have been named the Hornets and once the Charlotte Hornets moved to New Orleans, they changed their name and Jordan swiped it up right away.
His hometown team was now restored to its original glory. All he needs to do now is bring the team together so they can win a title trophy!
How He Became Friends with his Limo Driver
One time in 1984 Michael Jordan arrived in Chicago, and the Bulls had forgotten to send a limo to the airport for his pickup. Fortunately, there was a driver in the proximity named George Koehler, and he offered to give him a lift.
Strangely enough, he didn’t know that the man he had just picked up was Michael Jordan-he thought it was his brother who he went to high school with. Small world! That $25 ride would start a lifelong friendship between the two.
Michael Jordan married a beautiful woman named Juanita Vanoy in 1989. The two had three children together and were married just short of 20 years. In 2002, they announced that they would sadly divorce. Four years later it was finalized.
At $168 million, their divorce settlement is known to be one of the most expensive in history. The two claimed that the divorce was mutual, and they had shared custody of their three children; Marcus, Jeffrey, and Jasmine. Quite a few years later Jordan married his long-time girlfriend Yvette Prieto.
Not So Surprising, But His House is Massive!
When you’re a superstar you have a big house, and as you can imagine, Michael Jordan’s didn’t disappoint. At his home, you will find a basketball court obviously, 11 bedrooms, a guard house, guest house, and a pool house.
In addition, there is a huge movie theater. When he had the theater built, he told the designers that he wanted it large enough to handle copious amounts of cigar smoke. He eventually sold the mansion in 2017 for over $7 million.
His Dining Room Table
Michael Jordan had a very odd dining room table. It has holes in it, 32,292 exactly. You’re probably wondering why. The holes represent how many points Jordan scored during his Hall of Fame career.
Just imagine how many more holes there would be if he hadn’t retired for a brief period of time to play baseball.
There's a Strain of Salmonella Named After Him
In 1993 there was a patient that a doctor was treating who had an unidentified strain of salmonella poisoning. When tests determined that it was a brand-new strain, the doctor was able to pick a name of his choice. So he, of course, named it after his favorite Chicago Bull player.
Pretty weird, but we wonder what Jordan thought about the gesture. Do you think he was flattered?
His 23 Jersey Was First Nuber Retired by the Miami Heat
Although Michael Jordan never played for the Miami Heat, the team had a lot of respect for him. Enough so that they retired the number 23 in April of 2003. This was the first number that the franchise had ever retired.
Since then, they have also retired Alonzo Mourning’s number 33 and Tim Hardaway’s number 10.