Michael Jordan Biography

Michael Jordan is a Hall of Fame shooting guard who played in the NBA from 1984 to 2003 for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards, and is currently the primary owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. Winner of five regular-season MVP awards, he is widely considered the best basketball player ever to play in the NBA. Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles, and was voted the Finals MVP a record six times. Michael Jordan scored more points per game than any player in NBA history, with a 30.1 average, and his 32,292 career points scored rank as the third-most in NBA history. His career postseason scoring average of 33.5 points is also the best in NBA history.

Michael Jordan was a 14-time All-Star, averaging 20.2 points per All-Star game, and became the only player to ever record a triple-double in an All-Star Game when he achieved the feat in 1997. He was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1988, and was on the All-Defensive First Team nine times. Michael Jordan also held the record for consecutive games scoring in double-digits (866). In 1996, Jordan was named as one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History.

Michael Jordan became a world-famous star as his Bulls kept winning, and he kept scoring. He graced the cover of countless magazines, including Sports Illustrated a record 51 times. He also had his own line of basketball shoe -- the introduction of the Nike Air Jordan, embroidered with Jordan's signature symbol of him jumping in the air, basketball in one hand and legs spread, would boost Nike as one of the world leaders in sports merchandise. With countless endorsements to his name, Jordan would revolutionize the sports merchandising and marketing industries.

Early Years

Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born on February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, N.Y. Before he reached his first birthday, his parents, James and Deloris, moved the family to Wilmington, North Carolina, where james built a basketball court in the backyard of the family's new house. Young Michael was one of five children -- he had two brothers, Larry and James, and two sisters, Delores and Roslyn.

Growing up, Michael Jordan adored baseball, but also played football and basketball. He was a very good pitcher in Little League and threw several no-hitters, coming one game away from leading his team to the Little League World Series. In 1975, Michael was named "Mr. Baseball" among players in his age group by the Dixie Youth Baseball Association. At one point, while pitching for Laney High School in Wilmington, Jordan boasted a 42-inning scoreless streak. It wasn't until he was older that Jordan truly took basketball seriously. After being beaten by his older brother, Larry, Michael took it personally and improved his game. Being beaten by his older brother was the only motivation Jordan needed to work on his basketball game and become the best player he could.

During his sophomore year at Laney, a 5'9" Michael Jordan tried out for the basketball team. He was passed over for the final spot on the varsity team when coach Clifton Herring decided he preferred 6'8" sophomore Leroy Smith over Jordan. Jordan was quoted as saying, "It was embarrassing not making that team. They posted the roster and it was there for a long, long time without my name on it. I remember being really mad, too, because there was a guy who made it that really wasn't as good as me." Jordan put up one of the best performances on the school's junior varsity team that season and joined the varsity the next year. He led Laney High to the state playoffs as a senior.

Jordan made a name for himself on the national scene with a stellar performance in the McDonald's All-American game. He hit the winning free throws to give his East team a 96-95 win, scoring 30 points in the process. Jordan's 30 points were the most ever scored by a player in the McDonald's game, and stood as the record until Jonathan Bender scored 31 in 1999. Jordan was not, however, named the game's MVP; that honor went to Adrian Branch.

College Career

Michael Jordan's play in high school drew the attention of University of North Carolina assistants Roy Williams and Bill Guthridge. Williams made sure that Jordan attended Dean Smith's basketball camp in the summer of 1980. Smith was impressed with Jordan's play and offered him a scholarship. His top choice would have been UCLA, but he was never recruited by the Bruins. Ironically, Jordan actually grew up a fan of rival North Carolina State because he admired David Thompson. Jordan was also recruited by South Carolina and Maryland, but ended up going with North Carolina because he liked its head coach, Smith.

Jordan started as a freshman, which was a rare feat in itself on a Smith-coached team. He was instrumental in the Tar Heels' run to the 1982 National Championship. In the title game against Patrick Ewing and Georgetown, the Hoyas led, 62-61 with 32 seconds left. After a timeout, Michael Jordan took a pass from teammate Jimmy Black, and pivoted to take a 16-foot jump shot that went through the basket with 15 seconds remaining. The Tar Heels would take home the national championship with a 63-62 win. After Jordan's game-winning basket, UNC assistant coach Eddie Fogler said, "The kid doesn't even realize it yet, but he's part of history now. People will remember that shot 25 years from now."

Although he wouldn't win another National Championship while at North Carolina, Jordan had a storybook college career. He was named an All-American in both his sophomore and junior seasons, and was the College Player of the Year after his junior campaign. He averaged 17.7 points per game over his college career with North Carolina.

Olympics

Michael Jordan was a member of two gold-medal winning USA basketball teams. He participated in the 1984 Olympics Games in Los Angeles, California, and the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. Although Jordan had been drafted by the Bulls prior to the 1984 Games, he had yet to appear in a professional game, so he was still considered an amateur. The team was coached by Indiana's Bob Knight, and among Jordan's teammates were Patrick Ewing, Wayman Tisdale, and Chris Mullin. The USA team went 8-0 in the tournament and won gold with ease. Jordan averaged over 17 points per game during his first appearance in the Olympics.

Prior to the 1992 Barcelona Games, the International Olympic Committee had changed the rules of the basketball competition and professional athletes were allowed to compete. Michael Jordan joined superstars such as Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, David Robinson, and Magic Johnson on what was dubbed "the Dream Team". With the combined efforts of the best the NBA had to offer, the Dream Team cruised to the gold medal, winning games by an average margin of 43.8 points. To avoid controversy with sponsor Nike, Jordan placed an American flag over the Reebok logo on his jersey during the gold medal celebration.

Professional Career

Chicago Bulls (1984-1993)

Michael Jordan was drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls in 1984. He was selected behind No. 1 pick Akeem Olajuwon, who went to the Houston Rockets, and behind No. 2 pick Sam Bowie, who was taken by the Portland Trailblazers.

Jordan led the Bulls in scoring his rookie year of '84-85 with 28.2 points per game. His 2,313 points were the most scored by any player in the NBA that season. After a broken bone in his foot shortened his second year in the league, Jordan went on a tear his third year by averaging over 37 points per game and becoming the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to amass over 3,000 points in a season. Michael Jordan's scoring average would not dip below 30 per game over the course of seven straight seasons. Jordan was such an offensive force, often carrying his teammates, that when former Chicago assistant coach Tex Winter told him, "There's no 'I' in the word 'team'.", the Bulls star shot back, "There is in the word 'win'."

Despite Jordan's offensive dominance, a title eluded the Bulls for the early part of his career. The Los Angeles Lakers won three titles and the Detroit Pistons won two in Jordan's first six years in the league. But that would change at the turn of the 90's, as the Chicago Bulls became one of the NBA's best defensive teams to go along with a potent offense.

During the 1990-91 season, Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls teammates would achieve great success. He led the league in scoring with an average of 31.5 points per game. Chicago recorded 61 wins, and Jordan subsequently turned in one of the most dominating postseasons in NBA history, averaging 31.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 8.4 assists per game. The Bulls took home their first title in franchise history on the strength of Michael Jordan's performance. After the series-clinching victory, Jordan openly cried in the locker room, cradling the Larry O'Brien Trophy during the postgame celebration with his father by his side.

The next season, led by Jordan's 30.1 points per game,the Bulls dominated the league with a 67-15 record. At two separate points during the season, the Bulls boasted winning streaks of 14 and 13 games. In the 1992 NBA Finals, the Bulls defeated the Portland Trailblazers in six games to defend their NBA Championship title. Jordan upped his scoring average to 35.8 in the Finals.

Michael Jordan and the Bulls won their third straight championship in 1993. After a 57-25 regular season in which Jordan notched his 20,000th career point, the Bulls would go on to defeat the Phoenix Suns in six games for the title. The 1993 Finals were Jordan's most dominant, as he averaged a staggering 41.0 points per game, the highest scoring average for a single Finals series in NBA history. The Bulls' series-clinching victory in Game 6 came on Father's Day.

First Retirement

During the 1993 postseason, it was revealed that Michael Jordan had been gambling in Atlantic City the night before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Not long after that incident a book was published by San Diego businessman Richard Esquinas, claiming that he'd won approximately $1,250,000 from Jordan on bets while playing golf. These revelations prompted the league to open an investigation into Jordan's off-court gambling issues in June of 1993. Former federal judge Frederick Lacey, who was hired to conduct the investigation, would eventually conclude that there was no evidence that Jordan had violated NBA regulations with his actions.

Later that summer, Jordan's father James was murdered near his home in North Carolina. James Jordan's 1993 Lexus was found empty and stripped by the side of the road on August 5, 1993. On August 6, it was announced that a body discovered three days earlier in a South Carolina swamp had been identified through dental records as James Jordan. Jordan had been shot, and his body had been cremated. Further investigation revealed that James Jordan had been killed on July 23, 1993 during a botched robbery attempt. Larry Martin Demery and Daniel Andre Green were later convicted of the crime and sentenced to life in prison.

Michael Jordan surprised many by announcing his retirement from basketball on October 6, 1993, 62 days after his father was found dead and three days before the league closed its investigation of his gambling.

Professional Baseball (1994-95)

Following Jordan's retirement from basketball, Bulls chairman Jerry Reinsdorf asked Jordan what he wanted to do next. Jordan simply said, "I want to play baseball. It's my father's dream that I become a baseball player." And so on February 7, 1994, 31-year-old Michael Jordan signed a minor-league contract with the Birmingham Barons, an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, which Reinsdorf also chaired. Jordan went 0-3 in his professional baseball debut, a 10-3 loss to the Chattanooga lookouts. Jordan finished the 1994 minor-league season batting .202 with 114 strikeouts in 436 at-bats. Jordan also recorded 51 RBIs and 30 stolen bases, one of only six minor-leaguers to reach that total in 1994.

Chicago Bulls (1995-98)

On March 18, 1995, Michael Jordan issued a two-word release to the media that said: "I'm back." The 32-year-old Jordan appeared back in a Bulls uniform the very next day. His customary number of 23 had been retired by Chicago after Jordan announced his retirement, so Jordan wore 45 instead. In his first game since the 1993 NBA Finals, Michael scored 19 points in 43 minutes of play, going 7 for 28 from the floor in a 103-96 overtime loss to the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls won 13 of their 17 remaining regular-season games upon Jordan's return, but were eliminated from the playoffs in the Conference Semifinals by the Orlando Magic.

The next year, Michael Jordan was back to his old form, and back to wearing number 23. Jordan again led the league in scoring with 30.5 ppg and led the Bulls to a 41-3 mark to start the season. Behind a rejuvenated Jordan, the Bulls ended up posting the winningest season in NBA history, with 72 victories. That was three more than the previous mark set by the '71-72 Lakers. The Bulls marched back to the NBA Finals, where they faced the Seattle Supersonics. The Bulls dispatched the Sonics in six games, despite Jordan shooting just 5 of 19 from the floor in the series-clinching victory. The fourth title of the '90s for Michael Jordan was clinched on Father's Day, and he dedicated the championship to his late father.

The '96-97 season was the first full season that Michael Jordan played in which he did not average at least 30 points. But it didn't matter very much, as the Bulls came close to matching their dominance of the previous season, going 69-13. Jordan brought his heroics to a new level in the 1997 Finals. With the series against the Utah Jazz tied at two games apiece, Jordan came down with flu-like symptoms the night before Game 5. He was told he would be unable to play and stayed in bed for 24 hours, suffering from dehydration. But a few hours before Game 3, Jordan arrived at the Delta Center. His Bulls teammates acknowledged how sick Jordan truly was. Scottie Pippen was quoted as saying, "I didn't even think he would be able to put his uniform on." Jordan not only put his uniform on, but played 44 minutes, scoring 38 points on 13-27 shooting. Dizzy, nauseated, and exhausted, Jordan still contributed his patented late-game heroics. Trailing the Jazz by one point with 47 seconds to play, Jordan made a free throw, got the rebound after missing the second one, and nailed a 3-pointer to win the game. When the clock finally expired, Jordan collapsed to the court in exhaustion. The game came to be known in NBA lore as the Michael Jordan "flu game". Bulls head coach Phil Jackson later called it the greatest game he'd ever seen Jordan play. The Bulls would close out the series in Game 6, and clinch their second straight title.

The '97-98 would be Michael Jordan's last with the Chicago Bulls. He averaged over 28 points per game and led the Bulls into the playoffs again. During the 1998 All-Star Game, Jordan scored 23 points and took home MVP honors for the fifth time in his career. His Bulls would again meet the Utah Jazz in the Finals. Jordan was unstoppable in the series, scoring over 30 points three times. But the Championship wouldn't come easy for the Bulls. The Jazz were more than capable opponents, and it wasn't until Game 6 that the Bulls were finally able to put them away for good. With the Jazz leading the Bulls by three with 40 seconds left, Jordan took over. He would hit a lay up, steal the ball, and hit the game-winning jumper over Utah's Bryon Russell with 5.2 seconds left to give the Bulls their sixth championship in eight years. After his game-winning shot clinched the title, a two-page brochure was prepared for Jordan's fantasy basketball camp. The photo on the left portrayed Jordan hitting the National Championship winning shot as a freshman at North Carolina. The one on the right showed his game winning shot against Utah in game 6. The caption under the left read "Some Things" and under the right "Never Change."

Second Retirement

Jordan's contract expired following the 1997-98 season, and with the NBA under a lockout, his status was in limbo. However, in the offseason, Jordan announced his retirement for the second time.

Washington Wizards (2001-2003)

Michael Jordan's desire to win lead him to come back out of retirement again. This time, he would not play for the Chicago Bulls, but for the Washington Wizards. His tenure in Washington would last two years, and he never regained the dominance he exhibited in his early career with the Bulls. Michael Jordan averaged 22.9 points per game in his first year with the team, and 20.0 points per game in his second. He was named to the 2002 and 2003 All-Star teams. The Wizards finished the regular season with identical 37-45 records in Jordan's two seasons, and would miss the playoffs each time. Jordan's final NBA appearance came on April 16, 2003, in a 107-87 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. Jordan posted 15 points on 6-15 shooting, and added four rebounds and four assists. The 40-year-old Jordan left the court with 1:44 remaining in the game to a two-minute long standing ovation from the Philadelphia fans. When all was said and done, Jordan averaged 30.1 points per game on 49.7 percent shooting for his career. His 32,292 career points stand as the third-most all-time behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Karl Malone.

The Icon

At one point, Michael Jordan was the most popular and recognizable athlete on the planet. As such, Jordan revolutionized the business of athlete endorsements. Jordan signed on with companies such as Wheaties, McDonald's, Gatorade, and Nike. It was reported that Jordan actually preferred Adidas, but Nike offered him so much money that he couldn't refuse. On November 17, 1984, in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jordan stepped onto the court wearing a red-and-black signature shoe, called the Air Jordan. 1985 was the first year of mass production for Nike's Air Jordan; it reportedly grossed over $130 million. By 1998, Jordan had reportedly made over $130 million from Nike alone. Jordan was eventually given his own division of Nike, known as Brand Jordan.

Michael Jordan also pioneered new ways of marketing himself. In 1991, he appeared as an animated character, along with fellow sports superstars Wayne Gretzky and Bo Jackson, in a Saturday morning cartoon called "ProStars". In 1996, he partnered with Bijan fragrances to create Michael Jordan Cologne, making him the first professional athlete with his own signature scent. The same year, Michael Jordan co-starred with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and an entire slate of Warner Brothers characters in the animated "Space Jam". NBA stars Charles Barkley, Patirck Ewing, and Larry Johnson also appeared in the film, which grossed $230 million worldwide. Michael Jordan was also one of the highest-profile athletes to get into the restaurant business, lending his name to steakhouses and sports bars.

In 1998 Fortune magazine estimated that, since becoming a professional basketball player in 1984, Jordan's name had generated $10 billion in revenue for the game of basketball, its broadcasting and various corporate ventures. Jordan's on-court salary was just as prodigious as the one he earned off the court. For the 1997-1998 season, he earned a reported $33.14 million in salary just from playing basketball.

Post-Playing Career

Michael Jordan was hired as president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards in 2000. He was also part owner of the Wizards, minority owner of the NHL's Washington Capitals, the MCI Center, and US Airways Arena. Jordan held the post of Wizards president of basketball operations for one and a half years before deciding to retrun to playing basketball. Jordan left the position with the understanding he would retain his job after his brief return to the court, but owner Abe Pollin wanted to move in a different direction, and Jordan did not re-gain his job.

In 2004, Michael Jordan created Michael Jordan Motorsports, lending hs name to a motorcycle racing team. Jordan Motorsports races Suzuki Superbikes.

Jordan didn't return to the NBA until 2006 when he invested between $10 million and $20 million to become part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. He was named the team's Managing Member of Basketball Operations. Bobcats majority owner Robert Johnson sought Jordan for his basketball knowledge and management skills. In 2010, Johnson sold the team to a group led by Jordan. The sale was unanimously approved by the NBA's Board of Governors on March 17, 2010, making Jordan the primary owner of the Bobcats.

Personal

In 1989, Jordan married girlfriend Juanita Vanoy after the couple had a son together the prior year. They had three children: Jeffrey Michael, Marcus James, and Jasmine Mickael. During Jordan's number retirement after the 1994 season, he stood on the court with his three children as his jersey was raised to the rafters.

In December 2006, and after 17 years together, Jordan and his wife Juanita divorced, citing irreconcilable differences. They have shared custody of the three children.

Jordan's son Jeffrey played three seasons of basketball at the University of Illinois before transferring to Central Florida, where Marcus also plays.