Michael Jordan has inspired millions of people to play basketball, and this includes all of this generation’s best stars. In the discussion of the greatest of all time, he is the first name thrown into the ring and he is always the one that the latest greats are compared to. Those who were fortunate enough to follow him during his career will have vivid memories and remember his phenomenal ability, as well as his fierce competitiveness. Away from the hardwood, MJ is a businessman and brand, and there are dozens of strings to his bow which make him a fascinating individual.
10. For a Game in 1990 He Wore #12
In all of sports, Jordan’s #23 has become so iconic that you see athletes choosing that number, despite playing a completely different sport. The number is synonymous with “His Airness,” but it is not the only number he wore during his career. It is common knowledge that he temporarily wore #45 after returning from playing baseball (this was due to his #23 being retired). These are not the only numbers he wore in his pro career, however, as in one game in 1990 he was forced to wear a nameless #12 jersey. This was on a road game against the Orlando Magic, and prior to the game someone had managed to get into the locker room and steal his #23 jersey. As it turns out, Jordan plays better when he is mad as he dropped 49 points that game, but the Magic would emerge victorious.
9. He Holds the Record for Career Regular Season and Playoff Scoring Average
Michael Jordan enjoyed 15 seasons in the NBA, and he was incredibly consistent even after returning from retirement (although he would understandably slow down somewhat when in Washington). Although much more than just a scorer, it was his ability to put the ball in the hoop that made him such a feared player. He holds the record for regular season scoring average with a mammoth 30.12 PPG, as well as the playoff record with an astonishing 33.45 PPG. A truly great scorer will be able to adjust and score in a number of different ways, and Jordan is a great example of this, as he developed a near unstoppable post-game once he lost some of his speed and explosiveness. This enabled him to continue scoring throughout his career, and helped him to average more than the likes of LeBron, Kobe, Iverson, Shaq, Bird, Wilkins and even Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain.
8. He Donated His First Year Wizards Salary to 9/11 Relief Efforts
Many NBA fans would like to ignore the fact that Jordan came out of retirement (for a second time) and joined the Washington Wizards. Stepping away after the 1998 Finals would have been the perfect end, but his comeback did bring a lot of positives to basketball, America, and the entire world. He announced his return shortly after the September 11th attacks, and he would also announce that his first year salary would be donated entirely to relief efforts. This included $900,000 to different organizations involved with the relief efforts, and $100,000 to the children who lost their parents. Although it was an injury plagued season for MJ, his return did provide some much-needed positivity to the world of sport, and he proved he was still a top player by leading the Wizards in points (22.9 PPG), assists (5.2 APG), and steals (1.42 SPG).
7. He Has a Phobia of Water
Given how much Michael Jordan has achieved in his career, you would think that fear is something that he does not feel. Countless times, Jordan stepped up and took the big shots and excelled so many times. Whilst he may have no fears on the hardwood, this is not the case off the court, and it turns out that he is human after all and knows the feeling of fear well. Jordan has a fear of water, which stems from a tragic incident during his childhood. He saw a good friend of his drown when he got sucked into the undertow, and this understandably scarred him for life. Shortly after, Jordan almost drowned whilst at baseball camp and he has had a phobia ever since. He has somewhat overcome his fear, but he admits to still feeling uncomfortable when on a small boat or when near big bodies of water.
6. He Once Recorded 10 Triple Doubles in 11 Games
As this list demonstrates, most of the astonishing statistics in relation to MJ are to do with his scoring ability. He could also excel in other areas as well, and this is most evident in the 1988/89 season. In this campaign, the Bulls would experiment with Jordan in the point guard role (similarly to how LeBron is often utilized). Although this role did not work out too well in terms of victories, it proved that Jordan could be an elite PG if he wanted to. In an 11 game stretch, Jordan posted an incredible 10 triple doubles, which saw him average a breathtaking 33.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG and 11.4 APG. In the sole game he did not post a triple double, he posted a stat-line that any player would be more than thrilled to register with 40 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds. He also led the league in scoring that season.
5. He Has Five Children From Two Marriages
Unlike many professional athletes, Michael Jordan has always lived a somewhat private life (as best he can). In 1989, he married Juanita Vanoy and they had three children together (Jeffrey Michael, Marcus James and Jasmine). They would divorce in 2006, and at the time it was the largest celebrity divorce on record with Vanoy receiving $168 million. In 2011, MJ proposed to his long-time girlfriend, Cuban model Yvette Prieto, and the pair married in 2013 (Jordan would have her sign a prenuptial agreement). A year later, Prieto gave birth to identical twins, Victoria and Ysabel. Whilst Jordan has done his best to keep his private life just that, there has inevitably been a lot of attention surrounding his sons and whether they would follow in their father’s footsteps. Marcus played for UCF Knights but would leave the team, whilst Jeffrey played at Illinois before switching to join his brother.
4. He is the Only Athlete Who is a Billionaire
In addition to being the greatest player to ever grace the hardwood and one of the most marketed athletes of all-time, “His Airness” is also an entrepreneur and global brand. Each year he earns a staggering amount of money, and this comes from his Air Jordan brand, his partnership with Nike, entrepreneurial ventures including a car dealership and a number of restaurants, and he still earns more in endorsements than current NBA stars. He is also the principal owner and chairman of the Charlotte Hornets, and after increasing his stake in the Hornets in 2014, he became the only billionaire athlete according to Forbes. Technically he is not the first athlete to join the billionaire club, as Tiger Woods was named the first in 2009 just two months before his cheating scandal. This caused Woods to lose many sponsors and consequently he lost his billionaire label.
3. He Won a League Best 10 Scoring Titles
It is no secret that Michael Jordan knows how to score the ball. He could blow by defenders for a dunk or layup in traffic, he could drain shots from beyond the arc, pull-up for a midrange jump-shot, and he also had perhaps the best post-up game for a guard that the game has ever seen. This meant that defenders had to pick their poison, as most games he was going to get his share of points. In his 15 seasons, MJ won an incredible 10 scoring titles, which is a league best. He also managed seven of these consecutively from 1986 to 1993, with Wilt Chamberlain the only other player to manage this. Additionally, each year that the Bulls won the title, Jordan was also scoring champion that year. His highest scoring year was the 1986/87 season, when he averaged a jaw dropping 37.1 PPG.
2. He is the Only Player to Win the Scoring Title and DPOTY in the Same Season
Due to his amazing ability on the offensive end, it is often forgotten that Jordan was an elite defender. His ability on both ends of the floor ensured that it was going to be a difficult evening for whoever he matched up with, and this was particularly true in a historic 1987/88 season. He became the only ever player to win the scoring title (a whopping 35 PPG) and the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOTY) award in the same season (averaging a league high 3.16 SPG and 1.6 BPG). Inevitably, he also took home the MVP award that season. Throughout history there have been many great scorers of the ball, but they often do not put the same effort in on the defensive end. Similarly, the DPOTY is often very limited offensively, and Jordan’s ability to excel in both areas is what makes him such a revered player.
1. In Six Finals Series, He Averaged 33.6 PPG and Won Every Series
When you are debating who the greatest of all time is, you need to look at their ability on the big stage. Michael Jordan has breathtaking statistics in the NBA Finals, and a quick comparison with Kobe and LeBron (who he is most often compared to) shows that it is the Bulls legend who exceled the most in the Finals. In 15 seasons, Jordan made it to the Finals six times and played 35 games and won each series. Over these 35 games, he averaged a remarkable 33.6 PPG and never less than 22. Kobe has made seven appearances and won five, putting up 25.3 PPG. James has appeared six times and won just twice, averaging 26.4 PPG. Of course, you have to look a little deeper than these statistics and the circumstances, but there has been no player that has risen to the challenge more than Jordan.