Michael Jordan

History | Early Years | NBA Career | Honors and Awards


      Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the best basketball player of all time. He has also been one the most recognized and marketed athlete ever. After a standout career at Emsley A. Laney High in Wilmington, NC, where Jordan was a Mcdonald's All American, he played at North Carolina under Dean Smith. He made the game winning shot for North Carolina in the title game against Georgetown as a freshman in 1982. Jordan left North Carolina after his junior season to enter the NBA draft. He was selected with the third overall pick by the Chicago Bulls. Once in the NBA Jordan quickly emerged as one of the stars of the league with his high flying dunks. Jordan was also one of the best defensive players in the league. He won his first NBA Championship in 1991. He followed that up by winning the NBA title in 1992 and 1993. Unexpectedly, Jordan left the NBA after the 1993 season to pursue a career in baseball. Jordan rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three more NBA Championship titles. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but again returned in 2001 with the Washington Wizards.

       Jordan retired for the final time after the 2003 season. Jordan received numerous achievements and awards during his NBA career. He was named MVP 5 times, named ALL-NBA first team 10 times, named All Defensive first team 9 times, and made 14 All Star game appearances. His career scoring average of 30.12 points per game is currently the highest career average of anyone that played in the NBA. Jordan was also one of the most marketed athletes ever. He was behind the success of his Air Jordan Sneakers, which were introduced in 1985 and are extremely popular today. He currently serves as part owner and Managing Member of Basketball Operations for the Charlotte Bobcats.

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Early Years

      Michael Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York to Deloris and James Jordan Sr. The family moved to Wilmington, NC when Jordan was just a toddler. He attended Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington where he began his ascension into athletic greatness. He played football, baseball, and basketball for Laney High. In what is now very famous to everyone is the story of Michael being cut from the varsity basketball team. At 5'11" he was regarded to be too short to play for the varsity team, so he was cut from the team. The following year, Michael grew four inches and trained very hard to be a part of the team. Jordan made the team his junior year where he averaged 21 points per game. In Michael's senior season he averaged 29.2 points, 11.6 rebounds and 10.1 assists. He was selected to the McDonald's All American team. This is a very big honor, especially for someone who was cut from their team only two years prior.

      Dean Smith, the head basketball coach at North Carolina took notice of Michael in high school and offered him a scholarship to play at North Carolina. Michael averaged 13.4 points per game during his freshman season, as he earned the ACC Freshman of the Year award. Also in his freshman season Michael made the game winning jump shot in the NCAA Championship game against Georgetown. Jordan later said that this shot was a major turning point in his basketball career. Jordan averaged 17.7 points per game and 5 rebounds per game during his three years at North Carolina. Jordan won the Naismith and Wooden College Player of the Year Awards his junior season. Not surprisingly Jordan announced after his junior season that he would forego his senior season and enter the NBA draft. He was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the third overall pick. Michael returned to North Carolina in 1986 to complete his degree.

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Basketball Career

      Playing for the Bulls his rookie season Michael quickly became a fan favorite in the NBA. He even became a fan favorite in opposing arenas. Just over a month into his professional career he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the heading "A Star is Born." He was voted as a starter for the All Star game by the fans. Several veteran players were not happy with all the attention that Michael was receiving during his rookie season. He went on to average 28.2 points per game during his rookie season. In Michael's second season he broke his foot and missed 64 games. He recovered in time to play in the playoffs that season and made NBA history. In game 2 against the Celtics he scored 63 points, which is still a playoff record. Despite Jordan's fantastic play the Celtics swept the Bulls out of the playoffs. Michael enjoyed one of the best seasons in NBA history in his third campaign. He averaged 37.1 points per game, and joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players ever to score more than 3000 points in a season. That season he was also the first player to have at least 200 steals and 100 blocks. The Bulls again made the playoffs, but again were swept by the Celtics.

      In Jordan's fourth season he averaged 35 points per game and was named MVP of the league. He also was named Defensive Player of the Year. For the first time in his career, he made it out of the first round of the playoffs, as the Bulls defeated the Cavaliers in 5 games. But the Bulls were sent home in the next playoff round by the Detroit Pistons who had earned the nickname "Bad Boys", due to ther physical play. In Jordan's fourth season he once again led the league in scoring at 32.5 points per game. Showing his all around play he also averaged 8 rebounds and 8 assists per game. In these playoffs Jordan made the memorable last second game winning shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers. This shot has been replayed numerous times on many media outlets. But the Bulls ran into the roadblock again known as the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons constantly double and triple teamed Jordan. For the second year in a row the Pistons ended the Bulls season. In Jordan's fifth season the Bulls were prepared to make a run at the Championship. Jordan had finally recevied a good supporting cast with Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant. Jrdan again led the league in scoring at 33.6 points per game. The Bulls posted a 55-27 record, the best in Jordan's stint with the team. The Bulls entered the Eastern Conference Finals again to sqaure off with the Pistons. The Bulls pushed the series to seven games but lost to the Pistons for the third year in a row.

      Michael won his 2nd MVP after the 1990-91 season in which he averaged 31.5 points per game. For the first time in 16 years the Bulls finished first in their division. Their 61 wins also set a franchise record. Once again the Bulls made it to the Eastern Conference Finals to face the Pistons. This series had a much different ending than in previous years. The Bulls swept the Pistons in four games, which would put the Bulls into the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers. In game 2 of the series Jordan went up for a dunk, but at the last second switched the ball to his other hand in mid air to make the shot. It is one of the best plays in NBA History. The Bulls went on to win the series 4 games to 1, giving Jordan his first NBA title. The next season the Bulls set a new franchsie record with 67 wins. Jordan also won his third MVP. The Bulls once again made it to the Finals where they faced the Portland Trailblazers. This series was hyped as Michael "Air" Jordan vs. Clyde "The Glide" Drexler. The Bulls defeated the Blazers in 4 games to 2. The following season the Bulls competed a three-peat as they defeated the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals. In a very surprising move, Jordan announced his retirement before the next season.

      Jordan surprised everyone by signing a contract with the Chicago White Sox. He was assigned to play for the Birmingham Barons, the White Sox AA affiliate. Jordan only batted .202 for the Barons in his brief stint in baseball. On March 18, Jordan uttered two very famous words announcing his return to the NBA. He simply stated "I'm back." Jordan's first game back was against the Indianapolis Pacers and had the highest Nielsen Rating of any regular season NBA game since 1975. Aided by Jordan's return the Bulls made the playoffs, and advanced to the Eastern Confernce Semi-Finals  to face the Orlando Magic. Orlando defeated the Bulls in 6 games.

            With the playoff defeat the previous year to the Orlando Magic fresh in his mind, Jordan trained aggressively for the next season. The Bulls set a record for the most wins ever in an NBA season by winning 72 games. A truly astonishing feat. Jordan averaged 30.4 ppg and was once again named league MVP. The Bulls went on to beat the Seattle Supersonics in the NBA Finals. Jordan was named MVP of the Finals for a recors fourth time. The next season saw the Bulls lose their last two games to narrowly miss out on consecutive 70 win seasons. They finished 69-13. Karl Malone of the Utah Jazz was chosen over Jordan as MVP. Jordan upstaged Malone in the NBA Finals that year with the Bulls beating the Jazz in 6 games for their second consecutive championship. Jordan received his fifth Finals MVP Award. In the 97-98 season the Bulls compiled a 62-20 record. once again Jordan led the league in scoring with 28.7 ppg and won his fifth MVP award. The Bulls would again face the Jazz in the NBA Finals. In game 6 Jordan made one of the mst memorable plays in Finals history. Jordan, who was being guarded by byron Russell, dribbled right then came back left and made the shot that would win the series for the Bulls. Jordan once again received the Finals MVP, his sixth.

      The shot to win the series versus the Jazz seemed to be a perfect way for Jordan to end his career. Jordan retired for the second time on January 13, 1999. The next January Jordan returned to the NBA as part owner and President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards. Jordan was not quite as successful in his management role as he was on the court.  Jordan's used the first pick in that year's draft on high schooler Kwame Brown. Brown never lived up to expectations and was traded after four lackluster seasons. In the spring and summer of 2001 Jordan spent much of his time training for another comeback. Not with the Chicago Bulls, but with the Washington Wizards. Jordan announced his return to play in the NBA on September 25, 2001.       

      Jordan's first season back ended after 60 games due to torn cartilage in his right knee. He did lead the team in scoring at 22.9 ppg. In the next, and Jordan's last season, he passed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the all time leader in scoring in the All Star game. Jordan averaged 20 points ppg in his last season. Tributes were paid to Jordan in nearly every venue he played in that season. Jordan's final game was on April 16, 2003 in Philadelphia. Jordan came to the bench with 4:13 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The crowd in Philadelphia began chanting "We want Mike" at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Jordan came into the game with 2:35 remaining. Jordan was fouled intentionally and went to the free throw line, where he made both free throws. He came out of the game at this point to a three miinute standing ovation from everyone in the arena. Jordan left this game arguably as the best player to ever play in the NBA.

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Honors and Awards 
  • Mcdonald's All American.
  • ACC Freshman of the Year.
  • ACC Men's Basketball Player of the Year.
  • Naismith College Player of the Year.
  • John R. Wooden Award.
  • Adolph Rupp Trophy.
  • Won NCAA Championship
  • 2 Olympic Gold Medals.
  • NBA Rookie of the Year.
  • 5 time NBA MVP.
  • 6 time NBA Finals MVP.
  • 10 times led NBA in scoring.
  • All NBA First Team 10 times.
  • Named All Star 14 times.
  • All Star Game MVP 3 times.
  • NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
  • NBA All Defensive Team 9 times.
  • Third on NBA All time scoring list.
  • Second most steals all time.
  • 2 time NBA slam dunk champion.
  • The Sporting news MVP 7 times.
  • Sports Illustrated "Sportsman of the Year".
  • ESPN North American Athlete of the Century.
  • ESPY Athlete of the Century.
  • ESPY Male Athlete of the Decade Award.
  • ESPY Pro Basketballer of the Decade Award.
  • Ranked #1 by SLAM Magazine's Top 75 Players of All-Time.
  • Ranked #1 by ESPN Sportscentury's Top 100 Athletes of the 20th century.
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