Michael Jeffrey Jordan is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time – the standard by which the game’s best players for decades to come will be judged.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Feb. 17, 1963, as the fourth of five children to James and Deloris Jordan, the family soon moved to Wilmington. At Laney High School, as a sophomore, he decided to try out for the varsity team but was cut because he was raw and undersized. The following summer, he grew four inches and practiced tirelessly. The hard work paid off as he averaged 25 points per game in his last two seasons and was named a McDonald’s All-American as a senior.
He played collegiately for Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, being named the ACC Freshman of the Year in 1981-82, a season that culminated in New Orleans with him calmly draining a 16-foot jump shot in the waning seconds to give the Tar Heels a victory over Georgetown for the school’s second national championship.
After winning the Naismith College Player of the Year award in 1984 following his junior season, Jordan decided to leave North Carolina to enter the NBA draft. He was chosen with the third overall pick by the Chicago Bulls. As a rookie, he made an immediate impact, averaging 28.2 points a game and being named the league’s Rookie of the Year.
His scoring ability was unmatched by any guard in the history of the league. In 1986-87, he averaged 37.1 points per game, beginning a string in which he would lead the league in scoring for seven years in a row.
As Jordan’s game continued to mature and the Bulls surrounded him with better talent, the team began to thrive, and in 1991, Chicago captured the first of three consecutive NBA championships. He earned his second of five Most Valuable Player awards that season (the first had come in 1988) and was soon to become arguably the most recognized sports figure in the world.
The Bulls went back-to-back-to-back and seem poised for a run at a fourth consecutive title as the 1993-94 season approached. But on Oct. 6, on the even of training camp, the 33-year-old Jordan announced his retirement, saying he “no longer had a desire to play.”
He resurfaced the following spring … as a baseball player. Signed to a minor-league contract by the Chicago White Sox (also owned by Bulls’ owner Jerry Reinsdorf), he toiled for a season in Double-A Birmingham. While he loved baseball, the game didn’t love him to the same degree as basketball.
After a quiet winter, on March 18, 1995, he shared these two words with the media: “I’m back.” The Bulls reached the playoffs that spring, but lost to the Orlando Magic. The following season, however, Jordan led Chicago to the first of another trio of consecutive NBA titles. That would give him six, the last in 1998, and in all six he was named NBA Finals MVP.
He would finish out his career playing a few seasons for the Washington Wizards, for whom he also became a part owner. After selling off his portion of the team, in June 2066 he became part owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, and eventually became majority owner of what’s now again known as the Charlotte Hornets.
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