Jordan, Michael

▪ 1994

      Leaping to unbelievable heights as usual, Michael Jordan jumped clear out of professional basketball when he retired on Oct. 6, 1993. "I don't have anything else to prove," said Jordan, who had led the National Basketball Association (NBA) in scoring the last seven seasons and had helped the 1991-93 Chicago Bulls become the first team to win three consecutive league championships since the Boston Celtics won eight in a row in the 1950s and 1960s.

      He meant he had nothing left to prove in basketball. As the year ended, Jordan was training daily in hopes of playing for the Chicago White Sox of major league baseball, the sport he liked best as a child.

      Jordan was one of the few team athletes to retire healthy at the peak of his career. Like Cleveland Browns fullback Jim Brown, Jordan retired at 30 after nine seasons that defined him as the greatest player in the history of his sport. His career scoring average of 32.3 was an NBA record, and some opposing coaches said he was more dangerous on defense than with the ball. In 1993 he became the first to be named Most Valuable Player of the NBA finals for three consecutive years. He was the regular-season MVP in 1988, 1991, and 1992. He captivated audiences as "Air Jordan," the powerfully high-leaping and gracefully balletic improviser performing a high-wire act with a basketball and without a wire.

      No player besides 2.18-m (7-ft 2-in) centre Wilt Chamberlain had scored 3,000 points in a season before 1.98-m (6-ft 6-in), 89.8-kg (198-lb) Jordan did it in 1987, when he averaged 37.1 per game. His 32.6 average in 1993 tied Chamberlain's record of seven straight scoring titles.

      Jordan was an Olympic gold medalist both in 1984 as an amateur and in 1992 on the first professional U.S. Olympic "Dream Team." He became the first U.S. athlete in a team sport to license his name and image independently of his league's licensing program. He earned more money than any other athlete in 1993 for the second straight year, Forbes magazine estimated—$36 million, mostly in endorsement fees. But 1993 also was a year of scandal and personal tragedy for Jordan. He admitted to losing $300,000 in golf bets to a man who accused him of losing $1,250,000, and on July 23 his father was killed on a North Carolina highway, apparently a random murder victim.

      Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born Feb. 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, N.Y. In college he made the winning shot for North Carolina in the 1982 national championship game. He was all-American the next two seasons and left school after his junior year. The Bulls made him the third choice in the NBA draft, behind Houston's Hakeem Olajuwan and Portland's Sam Bowie, and he was Rookie of the Year in 1985. (KEVIN M. LAMB)

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▪ American athlete
in full  Michael Jeffrey Jordan , byname  Air Jordan 
born February 17, 1963, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
 
 American collegiate and professional basketball player, widely considered to be the greatest all-around player in the history of the game. He led the National Basketball Association (NBA) Chicago Bulls to six championships (1991–93, 1996–98).

      Jordan grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, and entered the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1981. As a freshman, he made the winning basket against Georgetown in the 1982 national championship game. Jordan was named College Player of the Year in both his sophomore and junior years, leaving North Carolina after his junior year. He led the U.S. basketball team to Olympic gold medals in 1984 in Los Angeles and in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain.

 In 1984 Jordan was drafted by the Chicago Bulls. In his first season (1984–85) as a professional, he led the league in scoring and was named Rookie of the Year; after missing most of the following season with a broken foot, he returned to lead the NBA in scoring for seven consecutive seasons, averaging about 32 points per game. He was only the second player (after Wilt Chamberlain (Chamberlain, Wilt)) to score 3,000 points in a single season (1986–87). Jordan was named the NBA's Most Valuable Player (MVP) five times (1988, 1991, 1992, 1996, 1998) and was also named Defensive Player of the Year in 1988. In October 1993, after leading the Bulls to their third consecutive championship, Jordan retired briefly to pursue a career in professional baseball. He returned to basketball in March 1995. In the 1995–96 season Jordan led the Bulls to a 72–10 regular season record, the best in the history of the NBA. From 1996 to 1998 the Jordan-led Bulls again won three championships in a row, and each time Jordan was named MVP of the NBA finals. After the 1997–98 season Jordan retired again. His career totals at that time included 29,277 points (31.5 points per game average), 2,306 steals, and 10 scoring titles.

      Jordan remained close to the sport, buying a share of the Washington Wizards in January 2000. He was also appointed president of basketball operations for the club. However, managing rosters and salary caps was not enough for Jordan, and in September 2001 he renounced his ownership and management positions with the Wizards in order to be a player on the team. His second return to the NBA was greeted with enthusiasm by the league, which had suffered declining attendance and television ratings since his 1998 retirement. After the 2002–03 season, Jordan announced his final retirement. He ended his career with 32,292 total points and a 30.12-points-per-game average, which was the best in league history. In 2006 Jordan became minority owner and general manager of the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats.

      At 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 metres), Jordan, a guard, was an exceptionally talented shooter and passer and a tenacious defender. He earned the nickname “Air Jordan” because of his extraordinary leaping ability and acrobatic maneuvers.

      During his playing career Jordan's popularity reached heights few athletes (or celebrities of any sort) have known. He accumulated millions of dollars from endorsements (most notably for his Air Jordan basketball shoes). He also made a successful film, Space Jam (1996), in which he starred with animated characters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. In 1996 the NBA named him one of the 50 greatest players of all time.

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Universalium. 2010.

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