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Michael Jordan (born 1963) is an American retired NBA basketball player. His biography on the National Basketball Association (NBA) website states, "By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time." Jordan was one of the most effectively marketed athletes of his generation and was considered instrumental in popularizing the NBA around the world in the 1980s and 1990s.
After a three-season career at the University of North Carolinae where he won the National Championship (Dean Smith's first) in 1982, Jordan joined the NBA's Chicago Bulls in 1984. He quickly emerged as a league star, entertaining crowds with his prolific scoring. His leaping ability, illustrated by performing slam dunks from the free throw line in slam dunk contests, earned him the nicknames Air Jordan and His Airness. He also gained a reputation for being one of the best defensive players in basketball. In 1991, he won his first NBA championship with the Bulls, and followed that achievement with titles in 1992 and 1993, securing a "three-peat". Although Jordan abruptly retired from basketball before the beginning of the 1993–94 NBA season to pursue a career in baseball, he rejoined the Bulls in 1995 and led them to three additional championships in 1996, 1997, and 1998, as well as an NBA-record 72 regular-season wins in the 1995–96 NBA season. Jordan retired for a second time in 1999, but returned for two more NBA seasons from 2001 to 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards.
Jordan's individual accolades and accomplishments include five Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, fourteen NBA All-Star Game appearances and more. Among his numerous accomplishments, Jordan holds the NBA records for highest career regular season scoring average (30.12 points per game) and highest career playoff scoring average (33.45 points per game). In 1999, he was named the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN, and was second to Babe Ruth (baseball player) on the Associated Press's list of athletes of the century. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Jordan was a shooting guard who was also capable of playing as a small forward (the position he would primarily play during his second return to professional basketball with the Washington Wizards), and as a point guard.
Jordan attended Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, where he anchored his athletic career by playing baseball, football, and basketball. He tried out for the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year, but at 5'11" (1.80 m), he was deemed too short to play at that level.
Motivated to prove his worth, Jordan became the star of Laney's junior varsity squad, and tallied several 40-point games. The following summer, he grew four inches (10 cm) and trained rigorously. Upon earning a spot on the varsity roster, Jordan averaged about 20 points per game over his final two seasons of high school play.
Jordan's second season in the NBA (1985) was cut short by a broken foot in the third game of the season, which caused him to miss 64 games. Despite Jordan's injury and a 30–52 record (at the time it was fifth worst record of any team to qualify for the playoffs in NBA history), the Bulls made the playoffs. Jordan recovered in time to participate in the playoffs and performed well upon his return. Against a 1985–86 Boston Celtics team that is often considered one of the greatest in NBA history, Jordan set the still-unbroken record for points in a playoff game with 63 in Game 2. However, the Celtics, however, managed to sweep the series.
During the Bulls' playoff run in 1993, controversy arose when Jordan was seen gambling in Atlantic City, New Jersey, the night before a game against the New York Knicks. In that same year, he admitted to having to cover $57,000 in gambling losses, and author Richard Esquinas wrote a book claiming he had won $1.25 million from Jordan on the golf course. In 2005, Jordan talked to Ed Bradley of the CBS evening show 60 Minutes about his gambling and admitted that he made some reckless decisions. Jordan stated, "Yeah, 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." When Bradley asked him if his gambling ever got to the level where it jeopardized his livelihood or family, Jordan replied, "No."
On October 6, 1993, Jordan announced his retirement, citing a loss of desire to play the game. Jordan later stated that the murder of his father earlier in the year shaped his decision. Jordan's father was murdered on July 23, 1993, at a highway rest area in Lumberton, North Carolina, by two teenagers, Daniel Green and Larry Martin Demery. The assailants were traced from calls they made on James Jordan's cellular phone, caught, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison. Jordan was close to his father; as a child he had imitated his father's proclivity to stick out his tongue while absorbed in work. He later adopted it as his own signature, displaying it each time he drove to the basket. In 1996, he founded a Chicago area Boys & Girls Club and dedicated it to his father.
Jordan then further surprised the sports world by signing a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox on February 7, 1994. He reported to spring training and was assigned to the team's minor league system on March 31, 1994. Jordan has stated this decision was made to pursue the dream of his late father, who had always envisioned his son as a Major League Baseball player. The White Sox were another team owned by Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who continued to honor Jordan's basketball contract during the years he played baseball. In 1994, Jordan played for the Birmingham Barons, a Double-A minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, batting .202 with three home runs, 51 runs batted in, 30 stolen bases, and 11 errors. He also appeared for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the 1994 Arizona Fall League, batting .252 against the top prospects in baseball.
On November 1, 1994, his number 23 was retired by the Bulls in a ceremony that included the erection of a permanent sculpture known as The Spirit outside the new United Center.
With Phil Jackson's contract expiring, the pending departures of Scottie Pippen (who stated his desire to be traded during the season) and Dennis Rodman (who would sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent) looming, and being in the latter stages of an owner-induced lockout of NBA players, Jordan retired for the second time on January 13, 1999.
On September 25, 2001, Jordan announced his return to the NBA to play for the Washington Wizards, indicating his intention to donate his salary as a player to a relief effort for the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. In an injury-plagued 2001–02 season, he led the team in scoring (22.9 ppg), assists (5.2 apg), and steals (1.42 spg). However, torn cartilage in his right knee ended Jordan's season after only 60 games, the fewest he had played in a regular season since playing 17 games after returning from his first retirement during the 1994–95 season.
Jordan's final NBA game was on April 16, 2003 in Philadelphia. After scoring only 13 points in the game, Jordan went to the bench with 4 minutes and 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter and with his team trailing the Philadelphia 76ers, 75–56. Just after the start of the fourth quarter, the First Union Center crowd began chanting "We want Mike!". After much encouragement from coach Doug Collins, Jordan finally rose from the bench and re-entered the game for Larry Hughes with 2:35 remaining. At 1:45, Jordan was intentionally fouled by the 76ers' Eric Snow, and stepped to the line to make both free throws. After the second foul shot, the 76ers in-bounded the ball to rookie John Salmons, who in turn was intentionally fouled by Bobby Simmons one second later, stopping time so that Jordan could return to the bench. Jordan received a three-minute standing ovation from his teammates, his opponents, the officials and a crowd of 21,257 fans.
Jordan played on two Olympic gold medal-winning American basketball teams. As a college player he participated, and won the gold, in the 1984 Summer Olympics. The team was coached by Bob Knight and featured players such as Patrick Ewing, Sam Perkins, Chris Mullin, Steve Alford, and Wayman Tisdale. Jordan led the team in scoring, averaging 17.1 ppg for the tournament.
In the 1992 Summer Olympics, he was a member of the star-studded squad that included Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and David Robinson and was dubbed the "Dream Team". Jordan was the only player to start all 8 games in the Olympics. Playing limited minutes due to the frequent blowouts, Jordan averaged 14.9 ppg, finishing second on the team in scoring. Jordan and fellow Dream Team members Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin are the only American men's basketball players to win Olympic gold as amateurs and professionals.
On June 15, 2006, Jordan bought a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats, becoming the team's second-largest shareholder behind majority owner Robert L. Johnson. As part of the deal, Jordan was named "Managing Member of Basketball Operations," with full control over the basketball side of the operation. On March 17, 2010, the NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved Jordan's purchase, making him the first former NBA player ever to become the majority owner of a league franchise.
Jordan married Juanita Vanoy in September 1989, and they have two sons, Jeffrey Michael and Marcus James, and a daughter, Jasmine. Jordan and Vanoy filed for divorce on January 4, 2002, citing irreconcilable differences, but reconciled shortly thereafter. They again filed for divorce and were granted a final decree of dissolution of marriage on December 29, 2006, commenting that the decision was made "mutually and amicably". It is reported that Juanita received a $168 million settlement, making it the largest celebrity divorce settlement in history at the time on public record.
He proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Cuban-American model Yvette Prieto, on Christmas Eve, 2011, and they were married on April 27, 2013 at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church. It was announced on November 30, 2013, that the two were expecting their first child together in April 2014. It was revealed that they are expecting identical twin girls. On February 11, 2014, Yvette gave birth to identical twin daughters named Victoria and Ysabel.
Jordan's private jet features a stripe in Carolina blue (the shade of blue used as one of the official school colors of the University of North Carolina), the "Air Jordan" logo on the tail, and references to his career in the identification number.
Jordan is one of the most marketed sports figures in history. He has been a major spokesman for such brands as Nike, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet, Gatorade, McDonald's, Ball Park Franks, Rayovac, Wheaties, Hanes, and MCI. Jordan has had a long relationship with Gatorade, appearing in over 20 commercials for the company since 1991, including the "Like Mike" commercials in which a song was sung by children wishing to be like Jordan.
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