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Michael "Air" Jordan

When people talk about the great players, they usually compare them to someone. Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain. However, there is one person that just cannot be compared to anybody. He is in a much higher class than all the others. You might say, he soared to the top. His name, is Michael Jordan.

Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born February 17, 1963. As a kid, Michael's favorite sport was baseball, and he was pretty good. He won MVP in the Dixie League and won a scholarship to the prestigous Mickey Owen Baseball Camp. His dad put up a basketball court in their backyard, and Jordan would play his older brother Larry, who would always win. Thus, Jordan would work harder, displaying the competitive spirit that served as his driving force later on. He also picked up his famous habit of sticking out his tongue when he was little. His dad used to do that when he would be fixing cars, and Jordan would imitate him. When Jordan was a sophmore at Laney High School, he tried out for the varsity team, but was cut because he was to short and not good enough. However, on the JV team, he averaged 25 ppg. As a junior, he had an excellent season on the varsity squad. However, he did not see himself as being someone who could play in the NBA. He was invited to attend the Five-Star Camp, where college scouts come to look for recruits. Jordan won 10 trophies, including 2 MVP awards. In his senior year, Jordan averaged 27.8 ppg. Next, came college basketball, and the North Carolina Tarheels.

Despite his success at both Laney High and the Pittsburgh Five-Star camp, most people thought Michael would come to UNC and sit on the bench all four years, then come home. The next three years would prove them to be considerably wrong. UNC was being coached by Dean Smith, now the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history. Smith rarely ever started Freshman. So when Jordan was named a starter for the season opener, it was an extreme honor. Jordan did not disappoint, averaging 13.5 ppg and winning the 1981-82 ACC Freshman of the Year Award. Next would come the NCAA tournament, and fame that Jordan hadn't even dreamed of. With 15 seconds left in the NCAA Championship game and the Tarheels losing to the Georgetown Hoyas, Michael hit a 17-footer to win the game 63-62. All of a sudden, "The Shot" made Michael a household name. As a sophmore, Jordan averaged 20.0 ppg and was an unamimous 1982-83 NCAA First-Team All-American. He was also named the 1983 Sporting News Player of the Year. In 1984 as a junior, Jordan averaged 19.6 ppg, and was again an unaminous NCAA First-Team All-American. He also won the Wooden and Naismith awards, and was the Sporting News Player of the Year for the second straight year.

Jordan's next move was to decide that he would become eligible for the NBA draft. There, he was picked third behing Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston) and Sam Bowie (Portland), both centers. The Bulls did not hide there disappointment in not being able to get Olajuwon. "We wish Michael were seven feet tall, but he isn't. There just isn't a center available. What can you do?", exclaimed the Bulls general manager. However, they wouldn't be complaining for long, as Jordan won NBA Rookie of the Year, after averaging 28.2 ppg. Jordan would go on to win three successive NBA titles in 90-91, 91-92, and 92-93. However, things were not all good. There had been allegations the Jordan had been gambling on golf, as much as $100,000 a putt. Jordan admitted to betting on golf, however he also said that the amount was exaggerated. Even worse, on July 23, 1993 James Jordan, Michael's father, was taking a rest in his car at a rest stop in North Carolina. When he woke up he saw a gun pointed at him, and he was shot in what appeared to be a random robbery. Jordan had lost his best friend. On October 6, 1993, Jordan shocked sports fans everywhere by announcing his retirement from basketball. He claimed it had nothing to do with his father's death, but instead it was because he had nothing left to prove.

Michael's next move would be even more stunning. Major League Baseball. He signed a contract with the Chicago White Sox, and completed his 1994 minor league season with a .202 batting average, 3 HR's, 51 RBI's, 30 stolen bases in 127 games. During this period, Jordan played at the Scottie Pippen Charity Basketball Game, the last game at the old Chicago Stadium. Jordan scored 52 points, proving he was still the better than the NBA's top players. Then, the rumors started. People claimed Michael was coming out of retirement. He had attended a Bull's practice, and many thought he would return. On March 19, 1995 the rumors proved true as Michael came out of retirement wearing #45. In just his fifth game back, he scores 55 points in Madison Square Garden, as the Bulls won 113-111. Jordan averaged 26.9 ppg over 17 games that season. Through hard work over the offseason, Jordan improved his game! He would go on to win 3 more championships, and lead his team to an NBA record 72-10 regular season before retiring for what appeared to be the last time just weeks after winning the NBA Finals on a game six, game-winning jumper (created by a Michael Jordan steal) with 5.2 seconds left, from Michael Jordan. However, Jordan would return yet again in 2001, this time to play for the Washington Wizards. After two solid years of play, he retired for good in 2003.

Jordan retired with 6 NBA Finals MVP's, 3 All-Star Game MVP's, 5 regular season MVP's, and 10 scoring titles. Is he the greatest ever? "The MVP should be named the Michael Jordan Award", quips Chuck Daly, "Don't put any other players in a contest with Michael. He's the best player in the universe." Donnie Walsh states this, "He's the best player I've ever seen. The reason is that he's blown all the myths we used to beleive about the game. We always said a team dominated by a guard cannot win a championship. And we always said a guy who plays that many minutes, he's going to wear down. But he gets better. Oscar Robertson, Jerry West, they couldn't do the things Michael could. When you really think about it, yeah, you've got to say he's the best ever." Perhaps the quote that best sums it up was stated by Doug Collins who coached Michael in his first few seasons. "The perfect player, to me, is probably 6'5", 6'6", 200 pounds..jump like Michael Jordan, wear number 23 like Micheal Jordan, and shoot like and play like Michael Jordan."

84-85 BULLS 82 837 1625 .515 630 746 .845 236 481 2313 2.4 5.9 28.2
85-86 BULLS 18 837 1625 .457 105 125 .840 37 53 408 2.1 2.9 22.7
86-87 BULLS 82 1098 2279 .482 833 972 .857 236 377 3041 2.9 4.6 37.1
87-88 BULLS 82 1069 1998 .535 723 860 .841 259 485 2868 3.2 5.9 35.0
88-89 BULLS 81 966 1795 .538 674 793 .850 234 650 2633 2.9 8.0 32.5
89-90 BULLS 82 1034 1964 .526 593 699 .848 227 519 2753 2.8 6.3 33.6
90-91 BULLS 82 990 1837 .539 571 671 .851 223 453 2580 2.7 5.5 31.5
91-92 BULLS 80 943 1818 .519 491 590 .832 182 489 2404 2.3 6.1 30.1
92-93 BULLS 78 992 2003 .495 476 569 .837 221 428 2541 2.8 5.5 32.6
94-95 BULLS 17 166 404 .411 109 136 .801 30 90 457 1.8 5.3 26.9
95-96 BULLS 82 916 1850 .495 548 657 .834 180 352 2491 2.2 4.3 30.4
96-97 BULLS 82 920 1892 .486 480 576 .833 140 352 2431 1.7 4.3 29.6
97-98 BULLS 82 881 1893 .465 565 721 .784 141 283 2357 1.7 3.5 28.7
2001-02 WIZARDS 60 551 1324 .416 263 333 .790 85 310 1375 1.4 5.2 22.9
02-03 WIZARDS 82 679 1527 .445 266 324 .821 123 311 1640 1.5 3.8 20.0
TOTALS 1072 12192 24537 .497 7327 8772 .835 2514 5633 32292 2.3 5.3 30.1