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Useful Notes / Michael Jordan

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His Airness in flight.

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

FRRRRROM NORTH... Carolina, at guard, six-six, Michael! JORDAN!!!

Michael Jeffrey Jordan (born February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York) is a former Basketball player for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards of the National Basketball Association. One of the greatest, if not the greatest player to ever play the game, due to his skill, leadership, eye-popping highlights, charisma, and professionalism. While he is outpaced in a number of statistical categories by other players who played more seasons, Jordan's versatility and dominance in the late '80s and '90s remain the stuff of legend.

He was drafted by the Bulls #3 overall in 1984 after a championship-winning career at the University of North Carolina and quickly emerged as a star, winning Rookie of the Year and a gold medal at the Los Angeles Olympics. "His Airness" was largely known for being unstoppable at anything he tried to do on the court - so much so that other teams often just let him do his thing and just tried to stop the other four guys. Case in point: in just his second season, he broke Elgin Baylor's record for most points scored in a playoff game (63) in a double overtime loss, setting a record that stands to this day. That was just the beginning- Jordan led the league in scoring a record ten times... while also leading it in steals thrice, even being named Defensive Player of the Year in 1988, the first of five seasons in which he won MVP. This was also the only time that Jordan was named regular season MVP without bringing home a ringnote . Once the team was built around him, Jordan took the Bulls to a three-peat championship streak from 1991-93 and won a second gold in '92 as the leader of the so-called "Dream Team" that redeemed the United States' embarrassing loss four years prior.

Then, at the height of his basketball career, Jordan abruptly retired to attempt another one in baseball. Rumors abound as to why this happened, although his father's tragic murder that year certainly had something to do with it. He returned a couple of years later with his skills undiminished and remarkably repeated the threepeat championship streak from 1996-98. This sheer dominance of six championships in eight years cemented Jordan's reputation for being incredibly clutch; he holds the NBA records for most game-winning buzzer beaters (9), most points scored in a playoff game (63), and most Finals MVP awards (6, one for each of his rings).

Jordan then retired again, only to come out of retirement a second time in 2001 to play for the Wizards before retiring for good in 2003. Despite age and injuries diminishing his performance from his Bulls-era heights, Jordan wasn't bad at all in Washington; he received the last two of his 14 All-Star nods there. Today, MJ still holds almost all of the Bulls major statistical records and remains the NBA's all-time leader in points per game, and it seems likely that he could have tallied even greater career stats and accomplishments were it not for his two retirements; he was obviously a lock for the Hall of Fame either way.

Jordan was one of the most heavily marketed and merchandised athletes in any sport ever, and his name-recognition and marketing savvy made him a multi-billionaire. The NBA has never had higher ratings than when he played, and anyone who didn't already have a team in that era tended to root for the Bulls (ensuring the team has kept a high value despite coming nowhere close to the Jordan-era heights). In addition his stardom gave way to a massive endorsement enterprise including Wheaties, Gatorade, McDonald's, and his massively popular "Air Jordan" Nike basketball shoes, all of which changed the way athletes made marketing deals forever (to the point the creation of the shoes got its own movie). Jordan used his fortune to become the first NBA player to become an NBA team owner, purchasing his home-state Charlotte Hornets in 2010; he is also the co-owner of the NASCAR team 23XI Racingnote  alongside veteran driver Denny Hamlin.

In fiction, he starred in a series of Looney Tunes / Nike crossover commercials and that led to the 1996 film Space Jam, and has also been featured in several video games, including Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City and NBA 2K from 2K11 onward (including the covers of 11 and special editions of 12, 16, and 23). He can also be seen doing commercials for Hanes underwear. In 2020, ESPN and Netflix aired a ten-part documentary series titled The Last Dance, which covered Jordan and the Bulls' 1997–98 season, pulled in huge ratings, and spawned a wealth of Memetic Mutation regarding Jordan's unfiltered and almost maniacal ambition.

Jordan's #23 jersey is retired by two teams, the Bulls (obviously)... and the Heat, who he never played for- Jordan really was that good. Since 2022, the league MVP trophy has been named after him. As always, The Other Wiki has more information on him, but if you need some cold hard reasons why many modern players want to retire his number altogether, you can peruse this list of accomplishments.

Not to be confused with the actor Michael B. Jordan.

Tropes associated with Michael Jordan:

  • The Ace: He is quite possibly the most well-known and most highly marketed basketball player of all time (in both respects, his only competition is likely LeBron James), and is the consensus greatest player in the history of the NBA. No one can match his spotless 6-0 record in the NBA Finals while winning Finals MVP in every seriesnote  and he was a force on both offense and defense for his entire Bulls career. Prior to the NBA retiring Bill Russell's #6 league-wide in 2022, Jordan was also the only NBA player to have his jersey formally retirednote  by a team he never played for — the Miami Heat retired his number 23 after he spent the last half of the 1990s kicking their collective asses.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: No, Space Jam did not make up him having a brief baseball career.
  • Always Someone Better: Was the target of this at first (losing to Sidney Moncrief's Bucks, Larry Bird's Celtics, and the "Bad Boy" Pistons). And then he became the unbeatable force that prevented big names such as Charles Barkley and Karl Malone from becoming NBA champions.
  • Bald of Authority: Once he started shaving his hair (because he couldn't avoid being harassed when going to the barber) it also coincided with his rise in team guidance.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Everyone learned the hard way: don't publicly try to put yourself on Michael's level.
    • One early example happened in the first round of the 1988 Eastern Conference playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, when Michael hung a staggering 50 points on Cavs guard Craig Ehlo in Game 1. Fellow Cavs guard Ron Harper, who didn't even play in Game 1, boasted to reporters that "Michael would never score 50 on me." Head coach Lenny Wilkens rolled the dice on Harper for Game 2, and he was right that Michael wouldn't score 50; Michael went for 55.
    • There's also an incident where up and coming star of Chicago Bulls, Corey Benjamin, came to rise after Jordan's earlier retirement and then made his own Badass Boast that he could have beaten MJ one-on-one. Jordan promptly came out of his retirement for a bit to visit the Bulls' training hall, accepted the challenge and proceeded to curb-stomp Benjamin on said one-on-one.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Despite a meme to the effect, at no time in the Last Dance documentary did Jordan say the specific phrase "And I took that personally."
  • Big Damn Heroes: He's hit more game-winning shots than any player in NBA history.note  He's also one of only three players to make a game-winning buzzer-beater in the final game of a post-season series (1989 vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers), which he did twice (1993, also against the Cavs), and his final shot as a Bull was the game-winning scorer against the Jazz that brought him his sixth ring.note  When Jordan saves the day, he has a tendency to make it as dramatic as possible, which contributes to his popularity and marketability.
  • Brooklyn Rage: He was born in Brooklyn and was famously emotional, short-tempered and abrasive.
  • Butt-Monkey: Was specifically this to The "Bad Boy"-era Detroit Pistons and demonstrated with the aptly-named "Jordan Rules" strategies used by the Pistons at the time to limit Michael Jordan's effectiveness. As summed up later, "while Jordan's on the floor (given his famed air game), we'll beat him and prevent him from scoring." This led to two straight lost Conference Finals, even inspiring Michael to buff up in the off-season so he'd both resist and dish out damage for a possible "round 3" - and it worked, given the Pistons were swept.
  • Catchphrase: Not from Michael himself, but Gatorade's campaign of people wishing they could "be like Mike" became a catch-all phrase to anyone in the sport trying to match his greatness. Chances are if someone hears "like Mike" even today, they know said Mike is Michael Jordan.
  • Competition Freak: Jordan's desire to win bordered on religious fervor levels; on the court, he played with more intensity and assertiveness than anyone during his time and he was often fueled by his fear of failure. He also entered the Slam Dunk Contest twice in the late 80s just to have something else to win, and even entered the three-point contest in 1990, despite being a pretty bad three-point shooter. And of course, his ability to take things personally and hold grudges—and usually doing so only as a competitor rather than as a person—was already legendary before he even started talking about it.
  • Crutch Character: While this trope would be ultimately averted for most of the 90’s after Chicago acquired talent like Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, Jordan was undoubtedly this in the late 80’s, as his two best teammates were dealing with drug addictions that hampered their play. In his first few years, he led the team to their first playoff series’ in years, and carried the load by putting up insane numbers, such as his infamous 63-point game against the Celtics in 1986. However, it still wouldn’t be enough to get out of the first round. After Jordan got some talent around him, he spearheaded the Bulls’ legendary three-peat, but retired abruptly in 1994. In the year and a half without Jordan, the Pippen-led Bulls were good enough to make the playoffs, but they ultimately fell short of winning it all. When Jordan came back late in 1995, the Bulls had an even worse year, going from winning 55 games, to 47 in Jordan’s absence. Combined with Jordan being rusty and out-of-practice after coming back, the Bulls fell short once again after a disappointing Semi-Finals exit from the Magic. After acquiring Dennis Rodman in 1996, letting go of players like John Paxson and Horace Grant, and allowing Jordan to get his groove back, the Bulls had their famous second three-peat, including their iconic 72-10 record-breaking season in 1996. In the 1998 Finals, Jordan shouldered an aging and injured roster to clinch his sixth and final championship and cement his status as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
  • Despair Event Horizon: His father's murder, which followed months of media scrutiny into his gambling habits, which itself followed years of grueling work and constant media attention while leading the Bulls through three straight titles and the American team through the Olympics, finally broke Jordan. Mentally and emotionally exhausted, he retired from basketball for the first time to go play baseball, where he was further from the media, could just be a regular player, and could play the sport that his father wanted him to in the first place.
  • The Determinator: Anybody who knew him would say that the reason for his tremendous success was not due to talent, but his unbreakable work ethic and drive to win. He would train harder than everyone, he expected his teammates and trainers to keep up with him, and he never allowed injuries, illness, personal tragedies, failures, or public pressure to slow him down, much less stop him.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: His fadeaway (jumping backwards, away from the basket, while making a shot) is considered one of the hardest shots to make in basketball, because it requires the shooter to have good accuracy, a lot of strength and balance to counteract the backwards momentum, and the movement gives fewer chances for the shooter to grab his own rebound. Done properly, it is very difficult to defend against, and Jordan had a 50% success rate with this shot, one of the highest in NBA history.
    • Surprisingly enough, the fadeaway is also a bit of a Boring, but Practical move, since it's not as spectacular as a slam dunk or hand-switching lay up (which consume a lot of energy), or a long-range three-pointer (which earn an extra point for extra risk), but a mid-range two-point shot that is more likely to score. Jordan actually developed the move because he was getting too old to go blitzing and dunking, plus all the other teams had been roughing him up for years trying to stop him, and he needed a safer way to score.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Why did MJ and teammate Scottie Pippen go after future teammate Toni Kukoč in the 1992 Olympics, humiliating him on both sides of the floor in one game? For being a sought-after draft pick of Jerry Krause, with whom MJ and Pippen had a stormy relationship, and for playing the same position as Pippen, potentially challenging for his starting role.
  • The Dreaded: He slowly became this during his rise to superstardom in the late 80's until he fully embodied it in his dominance through the 1990's.
  • Expy: The argument can be made that he's the modern version of Boston Celtics center Bill Russell. Both men are one of the reasons why their respective franchises became perennial championship winners with their athleticism and competitive spirit.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: His close friendships with Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Charles Barkley, were born out of mutual respect for each other's competitive drives and greatness. Their matchups were legendary and brutal on the court, but the friendship genuine off it, notable for a man as publicly guarded as Jordan. When Jordan, while driving, learned Magic was HIV positive, he pulled to the side of the road and sobbed.
  • Functional Addict: He gambled for the most of his career but nonetheless it never curtailed his playing, not even in the slightest. It even became commonplace for him to gamble or golf for hours before a game. Jordan, for his part, thought of it as just one more manifestation of his competitive nature.
  • Genius Bruiser: As he got older and his athleticism decreased, he was still a top-tier player because his tactical brilliance increased. He could read his opponents so well he'd intercept them before they even realized what they were going to do.
  • He's Back!: This is literally how he announced his return to the NBA after his baseball stint, through a two-word press release.
    "I'm back."
  • Implacable Man: One of the most athletic NBA players of all time. He became an unstoppable player once he trained to gain strength following his trials against the Pistons in the 1980s. Once he gained strength in addition to his other athletic abilities, it became extremely hard for players to guard him. If he noticed you were big and tall enough to block his shot while he was attempting to dunk, his reflexes were fast enough to change directions in the air and score in the opposite direction.
  • In a Single Bound: There's a reason he was known as "Air Jordan", specially the dunks from the free throw line.
  • It's Personal: Jordan took a lot of things personally, like being rejected, not getting named MVP, or just being snubbed by peers in public. He'd use that to fuel his competitive edge and prove his opponents and doubters wrong. It's officially gone memetic with this comment in The Last Dance, despite the fact that—as stated above—he never said that specific phrase:
    "... and I took that personally."
  • Leitmotif: The instrumental "Sirius" by The Alan Parsons Project is often associated with the Bulls of the 1990s, and by extension, Jordan himself, because of how often the song was played over the PA system during the introductions of the Bulls' starting lineup.note 
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: His colleagues would often remark that he was quite an asshole to work with, trash-talking even his own teammates if they slipped up or missed practice. But they knew that he was the hardest worker on the team, and that he was trying to push everybody to keep up with his high standards, which ultimately allowed them to win multiple championships and he could be very kind as well. Outside the court, he was polite to the press and nice to his fans, which made his behavior during training a jarring surprise to the public when it was revealed.
  • Maniac Tongue: The signature image of Jordan was his habit of sticking his tongue out on dunks and drives to the basket.
  • Nice Character, Mean Actor: For the duration of his career, Michael maintained a squeaky-clean commercial image that made him the most marketable and popular player in the history of the sport. This was easily manageable in a time without social media and where all-access video off and on the court was not as widely available. As time went on, stories began to circulate about Jordan's near-sociopathic behavior to opponents and teammates alike and was regarded as one of the most relentless trash talkers around (a book detailing said behavior called The Jordan Rules caused Jordan to freeze out the author in subsequent press conferences, Bulls beat writer Sam Smith). Eventually, Jordan began to soften on pushing back against this trope as it didn't affect his commercial reputation and people accepted it as a humanizing corner of a player determined to be the greatest of all time, prompting one basketball writer in regards to Jordan's personal flaws to write "Be like Mike? Hell, we already are."
  • The Peter Principle: Widely considered the greatest player of all time. Also one of the worst executives of all time.
  • Showy Invincible Hero: Not only was Jordan one of the most talented basketball players of all time, but he backed his skills up with an intense bravado and flashiness that made him incredibly marketable. He just loved to show off.
  • Red Baron: 'Air Jordan' or 'His Airness', due to his ability to leap and stay in the air as if he were defying gravity.
  • The Resenter: Whether the resentment is justifiably warranted or not, Michael Jordan has shown to hold grudges toward certain people over certain things.
    • To start it off, Jerry Krause for almost anything.
    • Isiah Thomas for him and his "Bad Boy" Pistons, sans their resident Nice Guy Joe Dumars, walking off court in the last game of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals just before it ended, unwilling to shake hands with the Bulls.
    • Horace Grant for allegedly being a source for Sam Smith's The Jordan Rules, which paints an unflattering picture of Michael.
    • The Portland Trail Blazers for not drafting him in 1984 NBA Draft, picking Sam Bowie instead.
    • And when he was inducted to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, he took jabs at Krause, Thomas, Bryon Russellnote , Pat Riley, and Jeff Van Gundy, to name a few. Not to mention one Leroy Smith, who beat him out for the last place on his high school team's roster when MJ was a sophomore; he even invited Smith to the induction ceremony note . In fairness, it should be noted that he mainly cited them in the context of what motivated him to become an all-time great.
  • Roger Rabbit Effect: Starred in a series of Nike commercials with Bugs Bunny, which were popular enough to spawn an entire movie.
  • Signature Move: He is best remembered for his slam dunks (his merchandise explicitly have that image), but his ultimate technique was arguably the fadeaway, which when combined with his ridiculous athleticism, was practically unguardable, and he used it to clinch many, many game-winning points.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Despite being considered one of the best players in the world, he had a weak shooting game during his early career. He then trained to overcome that deficiency, developed his trademark fadeaway shot, and became even more unstoppable. Similarly, writers downplayed his defensive capabilities early on; he worked his way to an eventual Defensive Player of the Year and a reputation for being a feared one-on-one physical defender. Jordan was not shy about boasting either improvement to the media.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • The Miami Heat considered Jordan this so much, they retired his number even though he never played for them, out of massive respect from the years Jordan put the upstart franchise in its place, his on-court battles with teams coached by Pat Riley (who went from coaching to Heat president), and his overall contribution to the sport.
    • After Jordan went for a playoff-record 63 points against the Boston Celtics, fellow legend Larry Bird (literally nicknamed "Larry Legend") said "It's God disguised as Michael Jordan." Especially effusive praise considering the Celtics won.

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23 vs 39

In this 2002 Gatorade commercial, a 39-year-old Michael Jordan faces his toughest opponent: his 23-year-old self.

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