His Airness: Things to know about Michael Jordan

Delfin Dioquino

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His Airness: Things to know about Michael Jordan
Michael Jordan is arguably considered the greatest basketball player of all time and undoubtedly one of the most successful athletes in history

MANILA, Philippines – Much has been said about NBA icon Michael Jordan. 

Jordan is arguably considered the greatest basketball player of all time and undoubtedly one of the most successful athletes in history – both with his achievements on the court and his success off it. 

Here are some things to know about MJ:

All I do is win

Wherever Jordan went, success followed. 

A highly touted recruit by North Carolina Tar Heels, Jordan lived up to expectations by hitting the game-winning shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship against the Georgetown Bulldogs in his freshman season. 

He spent two more seasons with the Tar Heels before making the big jump to the NBA, but before that, he captured an Olympic gold medal in 1984 with a USA team built around collegiate standouts. 

While it did not take long for Jordan to win a title in college, he struggled to lead the Bulls to a championship.

In fact, it was only after the Bulls drafted Scottie Pippen in 1987 that Jordan got past the first round of the playoffs. (READ: Dance partner: Why Scottie Pippen was more than Jordan’s sidekick)

After back-to-back heartbreaking series losses to the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons in 1989 and 1990, Jordan and the Bulls finally broke through, clinching an NBA crown in 1991 at the expense of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Jordan bagged another Olympic gold medal in 1992 as part of the vaunted Dream Team, and in the following year, completed his first NBA three-peat with the Bulls. 

The Bulls’ 6 championships from 1991 to 1998 rank second for most titles in an eight-year span next to the Boston Celtics’ crown sweep from 1959 to 1966. 

Individually, Jordan is unparalleled. 

His 5 Most Valuable Player awards won is tied with Bill Russell for second-most in NBA history just behind Kareem Abdul-Jabaar (6), while his 6 Finals MVP plums stands as a league record. 

Jordan is the first of only 4 NBA players to win both the MVP and the Defensive Player of the Year honors and his 9 All-Defensive First Team nods is tied with Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Gary Payton for most in history. 

Jersey galore

From prep to the professional ranks, Jordan wore jersey No. 23. 

It was the number he donned when he played during his junior year in high school, when he won an NCAA title, and when he retired from the NBA. 

The No. 23 is arguably the most iconic in all of sports and it has influenced several other athletes, most notably superstar LeBron James, who wears the same jersey number for the Los Angeles Lakers. 

Jordan, though, sported other numbers during his NBA career.

In a 1990 road game against the Orlando Magic, Jordan had his No. 23 jersey stolen and he was forced to wear a nameless No. 12 jersey. 

The theft barely bothered Jordan, who dropped 49 points on 21-of-43 shooting in that game, but the Bulls fell short in overtime, 129-135. 

After achieving a three-peat in 1993, Jordan stunned the NBA by announcing his retirement from the sport, and months later, signing a Minor League Baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox. 

He saw action for the Birmingham Barons, a minor league affiliate of the White Sox, and wore No. 45 in 1994.

Jordan brought the No. 45 to the NBA when he made his comeback in 1995, helping lead the Bulls reach the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Magic.

However, Jordan decided to revert to No. 23 after the Bulls lost Game 1 of the best-of-seven series and after Magic guard Nick Anderson said “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to.” 

It was also probably fate that the contest Jordan chose to return to No. 23 was his 23rd game back in the NBA since his retirement.

Eliminated in the playoffs – the Magic won in 6 games – for the first time in 3 years, Jordan permanently wore No. 23 the following season as he and the Bulls went on to win the first title of their second three-peat. 


Never talk trash to Black Jesus

Stopping Jordan defensively during his prime was a daunting task – he averaged an NBA regular season record 30.1 points in 15 years – so his opponents tried to throw him off his game by talking smack to him.

Obviously, that did not work. 

During the run-up to the 1992 Olympics by the Dream Team, NBA legend Magic Johnson bared he attempted to get under Jordan’s skin after his team led by double digits during a tuneup game. 

“His eyes got big. His tongue, now it’s way out. He broke the huddle, he hit a three, and he’s looking at me,” Johnson said, impersonating a tongue-wagging Jordan, during an interview with Jimmy Kimmel.

What followed was what Johnson ranked as one of the greatest shots he was ever involved in. 

“He came down the right side, took off [and] David Robinson took off. He said, ‘Okay, I’m going to sit here in the air because I know David Robinson is going to go down,'” Johnson narrated. 

“David Robinson went to the ground, [Jordan did a] 360 [spin], tongue moving, and dunked it. In a practice game. I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I was just stunned and all of us was stunned.” 

In another display of dominance, Jordan schooled a then-rookie Reggie Miller, who learned the hard way not to get “His Airness” riled up.

Holding a 10-4 halftime advantage in their head-to-head matchup, Miller decided to stick it to Jordan by saying, “There’s a new kid in town.”

Jordan ended up scoring 44 and Miller finished the game with just 12 points. 

“As he was walking off, [he said], ‘Be careful. You never talk to Black Jesus like that,'” Miller told Kimmel

MJ: Money Jordan

Aside from his legendary career, Jordan is synonymous with his brand of shoes and sports apparel: Air Jordan. 

But according to a story by Wall Street Journal, Jordan initially wanted to sign with Adidas when he was a rookie back in 1984.

Adidas failed to make Jordan an offer as Nike swept in and secured a deal with the future six-time champion and five-time MVP paving the way for the launch of the prominent Air Jordan 1. 

The popularity of his own brand of shoes established his stature as an ultra-effective endorser, and plenty of companies acquired his services, among them Hanes, Gatorade, and Upper Deck. 

Paired with the millions of royalties he earns from his endorsements, Jordan became the first billionaire player in NBA history as the Charlotte Hornets, which he gained controlling interest of in 2010, rose to $1.5 billion in value. 

Forbes estimated Jordan to have a net worth of $2.1 billion. – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.