Michael Jordan has been described as the greatest basketball player of all time – and it’s easy to see why he has earned such an accolade.
The American has become a cult figure after playing 15 seasons in the NBA, winning more than 60 awards and even enjoying a successful film career. He was also credited with single-handedly making basketball popular around the world in the 1980s and ’90s.
Born on 17th February 1963 in Brooklyn, New York, Michael is the fourth of five children born to equipment supervisor James and banking employee Deloris Jordan.
He played basketball at Emsley A Laney High School, Wilmington but at 5ft 11ins tall, he was considered too short to progress further. After growing 4ins taller the following summer, he was put on the varsity roster, averaging 20 points per game. He was chosen for the McDonald’s All-American Team as a senior.
Numerous college basketball programs tried to recruit Michael but he eventually chose a basketball scholarship at North Carolina, majoring in cultural geography. He was awarded ACC Freshman of the Year and selected for the NCAA All-American First Team, leaving college early to enter the 1984 NBA draft when the Chicago Bulls selected him. He completed his degree at North Carolina in 1986.
After a flying start when he was voted Rookie of the Year, Michael broke his foot in his second season, missing 64 games. Recovering for the 1986/7 season, he achieved a top of the league score, won the MVP Award and was Defensive Player of the Year.
He played for the Chicago Bulls until he retired in January 1999 but he came out of retirement in 2001 and played two seasons for the Washington Wizards.
Awards and achievements
During his long and illustrious career, Jordan won many awards, including:
- Five Most Valuable Player awards
- Three steals awards
- Nine All-Defensive First Team honours
- Ten All-NBA First Team designations
- 14 NBA All-Star Game appearances
- Ten scoring titles
- Three All-Star Game MVP awards
- Six NBA Finals MVP awards
- NBA record for highest regular season scoring average
- NBA Defensive Player of the Year 1988
- Highest career play-off scoring average
Media giant ESPN named Michael the Greatest North American Athlete of the 20th Century in 1999. The Associated Press had him second on their list of Athlete of the Century, behind legendary baseball player, Babe Ruth.
He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 for his outstanding career and in 2010 for his part in the 1992 USA “Dream Team” in the Olympic Games. In 2015, he was also inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame.
Sports brand Nike’s Air Jordan shoes, first manufactured in 1985, are still highly sought-after to this day thanks to their association with the star.
Michael starred as himself in the 1996 Warner Bros hit film, Space Jam, which mixed live action with animated Looney Tunes cartoon characters. It has become the highest grossing basketball film in history, taking more than $230 million at the box office. The plot centred on Michael’s fictional retirement from the NBA and his subsequent comeback, when he is swept up in comedy events with Bugs Bunny and pals. A basketball technical advisor was hired, along with animation director, Tony Cervone, to produce authentic basketball sequences.
As one of the most marketed sports figures in history, Michael has been associated with Nike, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Gatorade, Wheaties, Ball Park Franks, Hanes, Rayovac, the Superbowl and MCI. According to Forbes, Michael’s estimated net worth in 2017 is $1.31 billion, making him the third-richest African-American in the world.
He married model Yvette Prieto in 2013 and has five children; Jeffrey, Jasmine and Marcus from his first marriage to Juanita Vanoy; and twins Victoria and Ysabel from his marriage to Yvette.
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