The Incredible Life of Basketball Legend Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan is arguably the most famous name when it comes to all-star celebrity athletes. He is clearly a talented basketball player, but his success comes from his hard work, drive, and dedication to the sport he loves. Jordan took his talents to the screen when he starred in Space Jam. Even though he retired from the NBA, Michael Jordan has gone down in history as a basketball legend.

Michael Jordan during a pre-season game catching his breath
Source: Shutterstock

His talent is undeniable, but did you know Jordan was actually cut from his high school basketball team? Things weren’t always easy for young Jordan, but he pushed through, worked hard, and never gave up. These days, Jordan is busy with endorsement deals and his successful Air Jordan shoe brand. But recently, Netflix released a docuseries about the iconic NBA star called, “The Last Dance.”

Here are some interesting facts about the one and only Michael Jordan.

A Big Happy Family

Michael Jordan was born on February 17th, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were Deloris and James Raymond Jordan; Michael was their fourth child out of five. He was raised in a pretty big family with three brothers and two sisters.

Michael Jordan
Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

When he was just a toddler, Michael and his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, and that’s where he grew up and went to school. Jordan’s parents thought that Brooklyn wasn’t the best place to raise a family. Therefore, they uprooted their kids and moved them to give them a better life.

Too Short to Play

It may be surprising to find out that Michael Jordan’s dad, James, didn’t play much basketball. He was a huge baseball fan growing up and liked to play catch outside with his son. Jordan enjoyed baseball, but he fell in love with a completely different sport – basketball.

Michael Jordon wearing the Chicago Bulls team jacket and holding a ball with a look of concentration on his face
Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

Michael’s older brother Larry introduced him to the game, and he couldn’t get enough! But sadly, when Michael Jordan was a sophomore in high school, he didn’t make the basketball team. He was considered too small and got cut. That didn’t stop Jordan’s incredible dedication. Over the summer, he practiced every single day and grew four inches, which didn’t hurt.

Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

According to the basketball legend himself, being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame means that “your basketball career is completely over.” I can sort of see where he is coming from, but it’s a huge honor that takes a lot of time and effort. It’s almost like, once your worthy of that honor, you have to be at the end of your career. But what do I know?

Michael Jordan making a shot in the Bulls vs. Bullets game in 1990
Photo by Colorsport / Shutterstock

In April 2009, Michael Jordan was inducted. This was obviously a huge honor, and there is no denying that he deserved it. With his incredible dedication, talent, and love for the sport, there is no one more deserving. Hard work always pays off.

Basketball Genes

It appears that a love of sports runs in the Jordan family DNA. In 2007, his son Jeffery got accepted to the University of Illinois basketball team. During an interview with the Today Show, Jordan explained that he wants his son to set his own goals and dreams.

Michael Jordon and Yvette Prieto at the 12th Annual Michael Jordon Invitational Gala in Las Vegas, 2013
Photo by Broadimage / Shutterstock

The star player said: “He wants to be a basketball player, but he wants to do it on his own terms… The thing that we have tried to tell Jeff is that you set your own expectations. By no means in this world, can you live up to someone else’s expectations of who you are.”

Coming in Strong

When Jordan was a senior in high school, he was chosen to play on the McDonald’s All-American Team. The future NBA icon was averaging 25 points a game during those last two years of high school. Unsurprisingly, various colleges wanted to recruit him to play.

Michael Jordan, Matt Doherty, Sam Perkins, and Coach Dean Smith are posing on the court on October 14th, 1982
Michael Jordan, Matt Doherty, Sam Perkins, and Coach Dean Smith, October 14th, 1982. Photo by Robert Willett / Associated Press

He ended up attending North Carolina University, where he received a basketball scholarship. During his first year there, Michael Jordan helped lead his team to the championship. Not only did he make the pivotal winning shot, but the athlete was also named ACC Freshman of that year. That’s pretty impressive for somebody who just got out of high school.

Number One

Everyone recognizes Michael Jordan’s name. Even people who dislike sports or have nothing to do with basketball know that Michael Jordan is one of the best players of all time. The sports icon was selected as the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century.

Michael Jordan holding a bottle of his cologne called ‘Jordan by Michael’
Photo by Erik Pendzich / Shutterstock

The survey was conducted by ESPN among athletes, journalists, and other sports figures. To make it to the top of the list, Michael Jordan had to beat out other legendary names, such as Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. Not bad for a boy who got cut from his high school basketball team.

Space Jam Started as a Commercial

If you were around in the ’90s, you definitely watched (and loved) the movie Space Jam! Michael Jordan teamed up with Looney Tunes to make the classic basketball film. However, the idea actually stemmed from a television commercial.

Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny, who is holding the top of a skull, in the movie Space Jam
Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

Back in 1993, Nike’s shoe company created an ad for the Super Bowl featuring two beloved stars- basketball icon Michael Jordan and cartoon character Bugs Bunny. As it turned out, the commercial was a massive hit, so why not make an entire movie out of it? The movie didn’t disappoint; audiences and fans everywhere enjoyed to see the NBA player on screen. Bugs Bunny was just an added bonus.

Half Court Discount

Like many other talented stars, Michael Jordan’s hard work paid off. Being the star player in the NBA comes with a pretty hefty paycheck. That’s why it’s not very surprising that Michael Jordan owns some luxurious properties like this beautiful home.

Michael Jordan’s home photographed from an aerial viewpoint with a basketball court on the left side
Source: YouTube

Well, if you have 1.4 million dollars lying around, you can buy one. And that’s considered a bargain; six years ago, the house was on the market for $2.9 million. With a pool and a full basketball court, this is a house I would love to be quarantining in. Since it’s been on the market, Jordan paid almost $700,000 in taxes on it. Thankfully, he has no problem paying this expense.

Loyal to Nike

During the 1992 Olympics, Michael Jordan defied his basketball team’s Reebok Sponsorship by covering up their logo with an American Flag. I know this sounds strange, but stay with me for a second. Basically, Jordan was an ambassador for Nike, a huge Reebok competitor. The basketball star couldn’t walk around, promoting a competitive brand.

Michael Jordan at the 1992 Olympics making a basket
Photo by Colorsport / Shutterstock

That’s why Jordan always had an American Flag on hand. Jordan explained: “The American flag cannot deface anything.” He used it to cover up Reebok’s logo that was on the right shoulder of his uniform. Needless to say, he was very committed and loyal to Nike.

Sorry Shorty

As we mentioned, Nike has a lot of competitive brands, including Reebok, so why didn’t he work with a different athletic company? As it turns out, Adidas actually had the opportunity to make Jordan the ambassador of their company, but they decided to pass him up.

Michael Jordan is smiling after being presented with a Medal of Freedom
Photo by Greg Mathieson / Mai / Shutterstock

Why would any athletic brand not want a sports legend to work with them? According to Adidas, he wasn’t tall enough for them. The company wouldn’t use players under seven feet tall in their promotions. I think it’s safe to say that they are going to regret that mistake forever. Thankfully, Nike snatched him, and it paid off on both sides.

The Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational

People automatically associate Michael Jordan with Basketball. This makes sense, considering he is the most famous name when it comes to the sport. But starting in 2001, Jordan hosted a charity golf tournament, appropriately named the Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitational. He hosted the game for over 13 years.

Michael Jordan playing golf in 2009
Photo by Canadian Press / Shutterstock

Some of the stars who participated in the tournament were Wayne Gretzky, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Phelps, and Mark Wahlberg. Funds were raised for various different charities including, Cats Care, Make-A-Wish Opportunity Village, and Keep Memory Alive. Although it didn’t have much to do with basketball, his tournament certainly helped many organizations.

All About Number 23

Jordan didn’t really like the golf pace at his country club. So what did he do about it? He built his own golf course. It must be nice to just be able to ‘build a new one’ when you don’t like something. Jordan definitely deserves it, though. There is no one else with his determination, motivation, and God-given talent.

Michael Jordan in a Bulls Jersey with the number 23
Photo by Globe Photos / mediapunch / Shutterstock

The new Golf Course is called Grove XXIII and opened in 2019 in Hobe Sound, Florida. If you aren’t so familiar with Roman Numerals, XXIII is number 23. As you probably already know, number 23 was Michael Jordan’s basketball jersey number throughout his career.

Heart Of Gold

Jordan was playing with the Washing Wizards on September 11th, 2001- the day of the terrorist attacks that changed America. The star player took a million dollars from his salary and donated to the victims. This is just more proof that Michael Jordan is more than just a glorified athlete; he has a heart of gold.

Michael Jordan hosting Saturday Night Live in 1992
Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

He donated $100,000 specifically to children who lost their parents on that heartbreaking day. The rest of the money was split between a number of different organizations that helped with relief efforts after the attack. Instead of letting his talent and fame get to his head, Jordan gives back to the world.

Winner at all Courts

Michael Jordan has won various lawsuits against companies that used his face and name to advertise their products without his permission. Obviously, having MJ promote a brand would up their sales; that’s why celebrities get paid so much for endorsement deals. Using his face is basically lying and stealing.

Michael Jordan kissing the floor on the court before a game
Source: Pinterest

But Jordan didn’t keep any of the millions of dollars he deservedly won in those lawsuits. Instead, he donated it all to 23 different children’s organizations. He explained: “The 23 charities I’ve chosen to make donations to all support the health, education, and well-being of the kids of Chicago. Chicago has given me so much, and I want to give back to its kids – the city’s future.”

Beef with Sports Illustrated

Jordan hasn’t been on the best terms with Sports Illustrated after the magazine published “Bag it, Michael,” as their cover story. He was extremely annoyed about their opinions and comments about his short-lived baseball career. Even after all this time, Michael refuses to talk to the magazine.

Michael Jordan as a Chicago White Sox team member
Source: Twitter

It makes sense… I mean, this man is a legendary basketball player with an incredibly successful career. It is kind of a low blow to speak about his time as a baseball player. Clearly, basketball is the sport he loves and chose to pursue. You can’t get to his level in basketball if you’re focusing on other sports. I can definitely understand Jordan’s frustrations.

Special Clause in His Contract

It’s not uncommon to hear about athletes and even actors who sign contracts forbidding them from participating in activities that can be detrimental to their job. If a company is paying someone millions of dollars to play basketball, breaking their leg isn’t an option. Athletes need to keep their bodies unharmed.

Michael Jordan walking and talking with Luke Donald and his wife in 2012
Photo by Graham Chadwick / Daily Mail / Shutterstock

When it comes to Michael Jordan’s contract, he made sure it allowed him to play basketball against anyone, whenever and wherever he wanted. This is known as the “love of the game” clause. However, this doesn’t mean Jordan was allowed to go on ski trips or participate in different sports that may injure him.

Just the Beginning

Michael Jordan decided to drop out of college to commit to basketball. It was the right decision because, in the 1984 NBA draft, he was chosen third overall by the Chicago Bulls. Don’t worry, though, Jordan’s determination extended to off the court too. In 1986 he returned to school and finished his geography degree.

Michael Jordan making after making a shot with his arms still in the air
Source: Shutterstock

Anyway, that first year that he was part of the Bulls, Jordan averaged a little over 28 points a game. There were six games that year where Jordan scored more than 40 points. During his breakout year, Michael also made the NBA All-Star Team and earned the title Rookie of the year. What a way to start an impressive career.

Nickname Status

It’s not rare for celebrities to land different nicknames throughout their career, and Michael Jordan is no exception. His most common nicknames are MJ, Air Jordan, and His Airness. Throughout his time on the court, Jordan was known for his incredible leaping and dunking abilities.

Michael Jordan mid-jump shot in 1998
Photo by Globe Photos / mediapunch / Shutterstock

In 1988, He was playing against Utah Jazz. The 6’6″ player managed to dunk over John Stockton, his 6’1″ opponent. Someone in the crowd was angered and told Jordan to do that to “somebody your own size.” Jordan isn’t one to pass up a challenge. He accepted it and dunked over Melvin Tupin, who is 6’11”.

It’s Magical

When he got his first car- a 1976 Grand Prix- Jordan put one of his original nicknames on the license plate. Before he was a huge star, Jordan’s plate had the name Magic Jordan on it. That was a tribute to Magic Johnson, another iconic basketball player who Michael idolized growing up. Little did he know, he would end up with complimentary nicknames of his own.

A 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix parked in front of a fenced-in field
Source: Pinterest

As we mentioned, Michael Jordan’s hard work, dedication, and talent paid off with a nice paycheck. He is no longer driving a Grand Prix. Instead, he has a variety of luxurious cars to choose from, including a Ferrari and a Mercedes.

Jordan’s Ballet Moves

If you are a basketball fan, you definitely recognize Jordan’s classic “Jumpman” logo, where you can see him dunking a basketball. Well, this might be a little disappointing to find out, but that illustration isn’t really Jordan performing a dunk. What’s may surprise you is that he is performing a ballet move.

A photograph of a limited-edition pair of Air Jordan’s with a white rubber sole, black fabric and laces, and a blue logo of Jordan
Photo by Michael Bowles / Shutterstock

The dance move is called the Grand Jeté. Obviously, Jordan isn’t a ballerina and never used a ballet move when he actually performed a slam dunk. But because both sports required high jumps and leaps, the dance move really helped make his dunk look realistic. The picture came out, and the logo became iconic.

Retired After a Tragedy

On July 23rd, 1993, Michael Jordan’s dad, James Jordan, was killed. He was on the Interstate 95, coming back from a funeral. The man was not only robbed and shot in the chest, but he was thrown into a swamp. This is a tragedy nobody should ever have to deal with.

Michael Jordan announcing his retirement from basketball in 1993
Photo by Mark Elias / Associated Press

A few months later, the NBA star announced that he was retiring from basketball. He admitted that “he no longer had the desire to play.” Jordan was coming off of his third NBA championship win. However, his father’s death really put things in perspective for him. Not only was his father gone, but he was murdered. It really struck a chord for Michael.

Brief Baseball Time

Fortunately, Jordan’s retirement from basketball only lasted one season. During his break, the NBA player tried out for the Chicago White Sox; it didn’t take long for him to land a spot in their Double-A team, the Birmingham Barons. He was okay, but the sport he truly loved was basketball. He missed the game so much, and he went back.

Michael Jordan as a Birmingham Barons team member
Source: Twitter

Four years later, Michael Jordan retired once again and promised he wouldn’t go back. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen. Two years after that, Michael signed with the Washington Wizards, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the same. By this point, he went through multiple sports injuries, and although he was still an incredible player, he was no longer in his prime. After two seasons with the Wizards, Jordan retired for good.

Walking in Jordan’s Shoes

In December 2013, Michael Jordan’s shoes were sold at an auction. The star baller wore the shoes during five of the 1997 NBA Finals. When the Utah Jazz’s ball boy of the time put up the signed Air Jordan XII’s, they went for 104,765 dollars.

Michael Jordan wipes his brow while he sits between his teammates in a 1987 game
Source: Chicago Tribune

The ball boy was Preston Truman, who got the shoes because Michael Jordan himself gave them to him after that game. A game where Jordan was experiencing flu-like symptoms and still managed to score 38 for points. The Bulls won, and it was one of the greatest basketball performances of all time. That game went down in history as “The Flu Game.”

Three Numbers

Throughout his basketball career, Michael Jordan only wore three numbers; one of those numbers was for just one game. Michael Jordan is mostly associated with number 23. He was famous for that jersey number, but sometimes, he wore number 45- his brother Larry’s high school number.

Michael Jordon wearing a number 23 Bulls jersey on the court in 1992
Photo by Globe Photos / Mediapunch / Shutterstock

You’re probably wondering what that third number is. That would be number 12. He wore it during a 1990 Bulls game in Orlando. An employee working at the arena stole his uniform! He was forced to wear the backup jersey that didn’t even have his name on it. In the end, he scored 49 points, and his team won the game.

Born to Win

It’s a little hard to keep up with all the accolades Jordan has to his name. For starters, when he was with the Bulls, he won six NBA championship titles. On five separate occasions, he earned the NBA’s Most Valuable Player Award. The pro baller was even titled as the All-Star Game Most Valuable Player three times!

Michael Jordan celebrates with his teammates as the Bulls won their third NBA title on June 20th, 1993
Photo by Jim Prisching / Chicago Tribune

In addition, he had two gold medals. They were from 1984 and 1992 games in Los Angeles and Barcelona. That’s not all, there are a lot more tributes to the superstar, and he deserves every drop of it. Sure, he’s talented, but his success comes from his hard work, which is one of the most important qualities a person can have.

Knows How to Party

Before the final game of the Barcelona Olympics, it was revealed that Jordan was living it up. After putting so much mental and physical effort into the game, he deserves to less loose every once in a while. He spent that entire night drinking and gambling. Still, nothing holds this guy back.

Michael Jordan playing basketball
Photo by Colorsport / Shutterstock

The next day, he was doing back to back interviews with the press, played 18 holes of golf, and then he and his team won the gold over Croatia. Well, that’s almost as impressive as his basketball career. When I get a hangover, I can barely move from my bed to my couch.

Loves to Gamble

That night of gambling wasn’t limited to his night of drinking. As it turns out, Michael Jordan is quite the gambler. Jordan is known to gamble thousands of dollars during gold games, according to Charles Barkley. A fan once bet MJ that he couldn’t land his ball on the green during one of the charity golf tournaments.

Michael Jordan talking at a Jordan Wings event in China
Source: Shutterstock

Needless to say, MJ did it and made $500. To him, this is just pocket change, but for me, $500 would be nice. However, gambling is not always the right path. It can be extremely expensive and addictive. Jordan has a couple of bucks to spare, but gambling can be a dangerous hobby for him too.

More Money, More Problems

But there was a time where MJ’s gambling got him in a little bit of a pickle. He was spotted gambling in Atlantic City, NJ, the night before his 1993 playoff game against the New York Knicks. He later revealed that he had to pay about $57,000 in gambling losses that year.

Michael Jordan and Tweety Bird in Space Jam
Photo by Moviestore Collection / Shutterstock

Jordan spoke about his gambling during a 2005 interview with 60 Minutes: “I’ve gotten myself into situations where I would not walk away, and I’ve pushed the envelope. Is that compulsive? Yeah, it depends on how you look at it. If you’re willing to jeopardize your livelihood and your family, then yeah.” See, don’t listen to me, listen to him.

His Aquaphobia

When Jordan was just a young boy, he watched his friend drown in the ocean. That entire event was terrifying for the future pro baller. But when he was 11, Jordan himself almost drowned while he was spending the summer at baseball camp. That was just as scary.

Michael Jordan leaving a nightclub about to get in his car
Photo by Jeremy Craine / Shutterstock

Because of both of these traumatic incidents, you won’t find the athlete near large bodies of water. He won’t even go on a boat because of his fear of water, known as aquaphobia. I love the beach, but I can’t blame Jordan. I can’t imagine what it was like to witness my friend drown, especially at such a young age.

He Changed Basketball Shorts

If you watched Space Jam, you might remember Jordan mentioning that under his Bulls shorts, he wears his college basketball shorts. This line wasn’t made up for the movie. Jordan actually did this and considered it a good luck charm.

Michael Jordan is on the court in the film Space Jam
Photo by Warner Bros / Kobal / Shutterstock

This superstition started a new basketball trend: longer shorts. Because his shorts from UNC didn’t really fit under the short shorts he wore with the Bulls, he needed to wear baggier ones. Because of Michael Jordan’s prominent position in the basketball world, players everywhere started copying him. Thanks to MJ, long basketball shorts are now the norm in the NBA.

Still Making Mulla

Michael Jordan is worth a lot of money, and when I say a lot, I mean over a billion dollars! $2.1 billion, to be exact. Jordan has endorsement deals with popular companies, including Gatorade, Coca-Cola, Upper Deck, Hanes, Chevrolet, and McDonald’s. Plus, he owns some restaurants and a stake in the NBA Charlotte Hornets.

Michael Jordan holding up six fingers, one for each championship, while addressing the crowd at Grant Park in 1998
Photo by Chuck Berman / Chicago Tribune

Most importantly, Michael Jordan is the inspiration and creator the Nike’s Air Jordan brand. Those were the shoes I wore when I played high school basketball! Those sneakers are still incredibly popular. Even though he retired, he still makes more money than active players, including Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James.

Worth the Fine

Jordan got himself into a little hot water with the NBA because of his original Nike Air Jordans. Basically, he wore them even though the league didn’t authorize them. League commissioner David Stern was very upset about the matter. He fined Jordan $5000 for every game he played wearing them during the 1985 season. That amount added up to $410,000 when his salary was $630,000.

Michael Jordan
Photo by Richard Young / Ian McIlgorm / Shutterstock

Don’t feel too bad for him, though. Nike ended up paying the fines. Plus, they used the controversy for their advantage. They launched an ad campaign to make Air Jordan’s into the most popular shoe brand. It was certainly the most profitable when it comes to his financial endeavors. The brand was a huge reason Jordan became a billionaire.