Michael Jordan Background
Weight: 216 lbs.
College - North Carolina '84
A phenomenal athlete with a unique combination of grace, power, artistry and improvisational ability, Michael Jordan has single-handedly redefined the NBA superstar. The most recognizable athlete in the world, he is not only the top player of his era, but is quite possibly the best player ever to wear the uniform of an NBA team. A legend on the court, Jordan added to his mystique with a totally unexpected retirement just before the 1993-94 season. After a year spent playing minor league baseball, he authored yet another amazing chapter to his story by returning to the Chicago Bulls late in the 1994-95 campaign with his basketball skills intact. In 1995-96 he won a record eighth scoring title and led the Bulls to their fourth NBA championship of the 1990s, and in 1996-97 he raised those numbers to nine scoring championships and five NBA crowns in the decade. A summary of Jordan's basketball career inevitably fails to do it justice. The 6-6 Brooklyn native attended high school in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he was cut from the basketball team as a sophomore. He spent his college career at North Carolina, playing for an NCAA Championship team as a freshman and hitting the game-winning shot in the title game. He was named College Player of the Year by The Sporting News in both 1983 and 1984 and won the Naismith and Wooden Awards in 1984. After his junior year he was chosen with the third overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls. Jordan burst into the big time with a fabulous first season, earning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1984-85 after averaging 28.2 points per game. An injured foot sidelined him for 64 games in his second campaign, but he came back late in the year to score an NBA playoff-record 63 points in a first-round game against the Boston Celtics. Starting with the 1986-87 season he began a career-long onslaught on the NBA record book. That year saw him average 37.1 points in the first of seven consecutive seasons in which he led the league in scoring (a feat matched only by Wilt Chamberlain) and topped 30 points per contest. By the time he announced his retirement in 1993, he had earned three league MVP Awards, an NBA Defensive Player of the Year selection, a pair of NBA slam-dunk championship titles, seven berths on the All-NBA First Team and six selections to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. He also led the league in steals three times. A nine-time All-Star Game selection, he earned the game's MVP Award in 1988 after a 40-point performance. More than just a scoring machine, Jordan also showed that he was a leader and a winner by guiding Chicago to a trio of NBA Championships. As a rookie, he joined a Bulls team that had won only 28 games the previous season. By 1991 the club had topped 60 wins during the regular season while marching to the first of three consecutive titles. If anything, Jordan was even more spectacular in postseason play. Prior to his retirement he had averaged below 30 points per game in the postseason only once (29.3 ppg in his rookie year). In the 1985-86 postseason he poured in an astounding 43.7 points per contest. He left basketball temporarily in 1993 as a three-time Finals MVP, and he owned a career playoff average of 34.7 points per game, the best in NBA history. He also had two Olympic gold medals to show for his participation on Team USA in 1984 and 1992. Jordan shocked the NBA by announcing his retirement prior to the 1993-94 season. He spent the year playing minor league baseball for the Class AA Birmingham Barons of the Chicago White Sox organization, for whom he was a competent if unspectacular performer. But Jordan's hopes of reaching the major leagues seemed dim, and with Major League Baseball embroiled in a labor dispute as the 1995 season neared, he focused his competitive fire back on the NBA. Late in the 1994-95 NBA season he came out of retirement and attempted to carry the Bulls to another title. Jordan averaged 26.9 points in 17 regular-season games, then poured in 31.5 points per contest in the playoffs. Despite Jordan's presence in
Jordan had another great season, leading the league in scoring for the ninth time at 29.6 ppg, contributing 5.9 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 1.71 steals per game and being voted to his accustomed spots on the All-NBA and All-NBA Defensive First Teams. Although the voters elected Karl Malone of Utah as the league's MVP by a slim margin over Jordan, he gained revenge by leading the Bulls past Malone's Jazz in the NBA Finals and capturing Finals MVP honors for the fifth time in five trips to the championship series. The NBA's Player of the Month for November, Jordan started all 82 games and climbed past Alex English, Dominique Wilkins, John Havlicek and Oscar Robertson into fifth place on the all-time scoring list with 26,920 points. Jordan, who has now scored in double figures in 758 consecutive games, tallied a season-high 51 points in an 88-87 win over New York on Jan. 21 and got 50 points in a 106-100 triumph over Miami on Nov. 6. He scored at least 40 points eight times and 30 or more on 44 occasions. Jordan, who matched his career high of 18 rebounds in an 89-87 overtime win over Seattle on March 6, became the first player to post a triple-double in NBA All-Star history when he got 14 points, a game-high 11 rebounds and a game-high 11 assists in Cleveland. During the weekend he also participated in the ceremonies honoring the "50 Greatest Players in NBA History." Jordan averaged an NBA-high 31.1 points, 7.9 rebounds, and team-highs of 4.8 assists and 1.58 steals per game in 19 playoff contests, and averaged 32.3 ppg in the NBA Finals against the Jazz. Jordan hit a buzzer-beating shot to win Game 1 of the Finals, had 38 points in Game 2 and came up with another 38 points, this time despite a stomach virus, in Game 5.
Jordan proved he was all the way back by winning a record eighth scoring championship, one more than Wilt Chamberlain, and leading the Bulls to their fourth NBA championship of the 1990s. He joined Willis Reed (1970) as only the second man to win Most Valuable Player awards for the regular season, All-Star Game and NBA Finals in the same season. Jordan started all 100 games for the Bulls-he was the only player to start all 82 regular season games for Chicago, and he also started all 18 playoff contests. Though perhaps he drove to the hoop a bit less than earlier in his career and lacked a drop of his previous explosiveness and reckless abandon, Jordan was a far more effective and controlled jump-shooter and three-point scoring threat and remained an outstanding all-around contributor. Besides his league-leading 30.4 points per game, Jordan averaged 6.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.20 steals in 37.7 minutes per game, ranking third in the league in steals. Jordan scored 40 points or more nine times, getting an NBA season-high 53 points against Detroit on March 7. He also had season highs of 16 rebounds at New Jersey on March 16 and eight assists against New York on Dec. 6. In the All-Star Game he played just 22 minutes but edged out Shaquille O'Neal for MVP honors by scoring 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting and grabbing four rebounds. Jordan led the Bulls in scoring in 17 of 18 playoff contests, with a high of 46 points in Game 3 against New York. He also had 45 points in Game 4 against Orlando and 44 points in Game 1 against New York. He averaged 30.7 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.83 steals in 40.7 minutes per game in the playoffs, including 27.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 4.2 apg, 1.67 spg and 42.0 mpg in the Finals against Seattle.
With baseball on hold because of a player strike, Jordan began to consider a return to the NBA, and by late winter rumors were flying that he would rejoin the Bulls in time for the playoffs. Chicago was puttering along with a 34-31 record when Jordan took the floor for the club on March 19 against the Indiana Pacers. He scored 19 points in that game but looked a little rusty. Jordan hit for 27 points three nights later against the Boston Celtics, scored 21 against the Orlando Magic on March 24, and then popped in 32 against the Atlanta Hawks the following night. On March 29 he showed that his skills were undiminished with a memorable 55-point performance against the Knicks in New York. With Jordan back for the final 17 games of the regular season, the Bulls went 13-4 to finish at 47-35 overall. He led the team in scoring in 11 of those games, topped the club in assists four times, and led the Bulls in rebounding on six occasions. He finished with averages of 26.9 points, 5.3 assists, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.76 steals in 39.3 minutes per game. Jordan struggled from the field, however, shooting just .411. The Bulls drew the Charlotte Hornets as opponents in the opening round of the postseason. Jordan kicked off the playoffs by scoring 48 points in Game 1, then followed that up with a 32-point performance in Game 2. The Bulls eliminated Charlotte in four games as Jordan averaged 32.3 points per outing in the series. In Chicago's second-round matchup with the Orlando Magic he scored 38 points in Game 2, 40 in Game 3, and 39 in Game 5, but the Bulls fell in six games. In 10 postseason games he averaged 31.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, but he also coughed up 4.1 turnovers per contest.
After winning his third straight NBA title with the Chicago Bulls in 1992-93, Jordan had a tough offseason that reached its nadir when his father, James Jordan, was murdered in North Carolina. On October 6, just one day before the start of training camp, Jordan stunned the basketball world by announcing his retirement. He left holding the highest career scoring average in NBA history at 32.3 points per game. After much speculation about his plans, Jordan returned to the spotlight in a baseball uniform. He spent the 1994 baseball season playing for the Birmingham Barons, an affiliate of the Chicago White Sox in the Class AA Southern League. An adequate outfielder, he hit .202 in 127 games, striking out 114 times in 436 at bats. Jordan belted 3 home runs, collected 51 RBIs, and stole 30 bases. He also led all Southern League outfielders with 11 errors.
The extraordinary had long since become commonplace for Jordan and the Bulls. Chicago posted its fourth straight 50-win season and took another division title in 1992-93 as Jordan averaged 32.6 points to claim his seventh straight scoring title and tie Wilt Chamberlain for most consecutive scoring crowns. He led the league in steals for the third time in his career, and he earned a seventh straight appointment to the All-NBA First Team and a sixth straight appointment to the NBA All-Defensive First Team. He scored 30 points at the All-Star Game, giving him a career All-Star Game average of 22.1 points per game, the highest in NBA history. Among a slew of fine single-game performances, Jordan scored 54 points against the Los Angeles Lakers in November, scorched the Washington Bullets for 57 in December, victimized the Orlando Magic for 64 in January, and then racked up 52 in March against the Charlotte Hornets. He also reached a milestone by scoring the 20,000th point of his NBA career. In the postseason the Bulls got by the Atlanta Hawks and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first two rounds without a loss. After dropping the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals to the New York Knicks, Chicago came back to take four straight and win the series. The Bulls defeated the Phoenix Suns in six games in the NBA Finals to nail down a third consecutive title. Jordan was named Finals MVP once again after averaging 41.0 points against the Suns to set an NBA Finals record.
Chicago waltzed through the regular season in 1991-92, winning 67 games as Jordan reprised his previous season's performance. He won a second straight MVP Award, was named to the All-Star squad for the eighth year in a row, ran his streak of All-NBA First Team selections to six years and his string of NBA All-Defensive First Team selections to five, and was once again the league's leading scorer, at 30.1 points per game. He started the season by scoring 40 or more points in three of the Bulls' first four games, and he led the club in scoring in 69 contests during the year. The Bulls posted the best record in the NBA by a margin of 10 games but had a tougher time in the postseason than the previous year. After sweeping the Miami Heat, they fought the New York Knicks for seven games before taking the semifinals series. The conference finals matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers lasted six contests. The Bulls then faced Portland in the NBA Finals and came away with a second straight title when they downed the Trail Blazers, 97-93, in Game 6. Jordan was the Finals MVP once again after averaging 34.5 points in 22 postseason contests. After the season, he played for the U.S. Dream Team at the Olympic Games and claimed his second gold medal.
Jordan added the only important item missing from his basketball résumé when he guided the Bulls to an NBA Championship in 1990-91. During the regular season the Bulls won a club-record 61 contests to take the Central Division by 11 games. An All-Star and a member of both the All-NBA First Team and the NBA All-Defensive First Team, Jordan also won the league MVP Award for the second time in his career. With a regular-season scoring average of 31.5 points per game, he picked up his fifth straight scoring title as he topped 40 points in a game 11 times. He averaged 6.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists and ranked third in the league in steals at 2.72 per game. The Bulls waltzed through the postseason, sweeping the New York Knicks in the opening round, cruising past the Philadelphia 76ers with only one loss in the conference semifinals, and then sweeping the archrival Detroit Pistons in four games in the Eastern Conference Finals. After losing Game 1 of the NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Bulls won the next four contests to claim their first-ever title. Jordan averaged 31.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 8.4 assists during the team's postseason ride. He also earned the NBA Finals MVP Award.
Phil Jackson took over as head coach of the Bulls for the 1989-90 season, and everything started to click for Chicago. The Bulls put together a 55-27 record, the club's best showing since it had gone 57-24 under Dick Motta in 1971-72. Jordan was his usual dominating self at both ends of the court, leading the NBA in scoring (33.6 ppg) and steals (2.77 per game). He set a personal best when he scored 69 points in a 117-113 overtime win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also emerged as a legitimate threat from beyond the three-point arc, posting a .376 percentage-100 percentage points above his previous career high-while hitting 92 long-range shots, compared with 68 in his first five seasons combined. A member of the All-Star Team once again, Jordan was also picked for the All-NBA First Team and the NBA All-Defensive First Team. In the postseason the Bulls got past the Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers in the first two rounds but fell to the Detroit Pistons in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals. Jordan averaged 36.7 points in 16 playoff games.
In 1988-89 Jordan turned in possibly the best all-around performance of his career. The league's leading scorer once again at 32.5 points per game, he finished 10th in the NBA in assists with a career-high 8.0 per outing and also set a career high by pulling down 8.0 rebounds per contest. He ranked third in the league in steals at 2.89 per game. On January 25 he scored the 10,000th point of his career. Named to the East All-Star Team for the fifth straight year, Jordan scored 28 points in 33 minutes of action. His postseason honors included membership on the All-NBA First Team and the NBA All-Defensive First Team and selection as Player of the Year by The Sporting News. The Bulls slipped a bit in the regular season, posting a 47-35 record, 3 fewer wins than the season before. But after squeezing by the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games in the opening round of the playoffs, the Bulls ousted the New York Knicks in the conference semifinals and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals for only the third time in team history. They fell to the Detroit Pistons in six games. Jordan averaged 34.8 points in 17 postseason games. In the pivotal Game 5 of Chicago's first-round series against Cleveland, Jordan hit a memorable buzzer-beating jumper over Craig Ehlo to bring the Bulls from a 100-99 deficit to a 101-100 victory.
The Bulls added two talented rookies in 1987-88, drafting Horace Grant and trading for Scottie Pippen. The new blood helped lift Chicago to a 50-32 record, the team's best result since the 1974-75 season. Jordan led the club in scoring in 81 of 82 regular-season games and topped 40 points on 18 occasions. Equally remarkable, he failed to reach 20 points only three times during the year. He won every major honor, including Most Valuable Player, Defensive Player of the Year, selection to the All-NBA First Team, selection to the All-Defensive First Team, an All-Star Game MVP Award (after scoring 40 points), and the NBA Slam-Dunk Championship. He led the league in scoring with 35.0 points per game and in steals with 3.16 per contest. Chicago advanced past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons, besting the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games in the first round before falling to the Detroit Pistons in five games in the conference semifinals. Jordan set a playoff record for field goals made in a game with 24 against Cleveland on May 1, and he established another mark in the same game by attempting 25 shots against the Cavs in a single half. In 10 playoff games he averaged 36.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.7 assists.
In 1986-87 Jordan began a string of consecutive NBA scoring titles that would last for seven seasons until his surprise temporary retirement in 1993. He scored a career-high 37.1 points per game and became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to top 3,000 points in a season. In November and December he went on a rampage and rang up 40 points or more in nine straight games. He poured in 58 points against the New Jersey Nets on February 26, then toasted the Atlanta Hawks for 61 on April 16 in a game in which he sank an NBA-record 23 points in a row. Jordan also became the first player in league history to record 200 steals and 100 blocked shots in a season. He played in the All-Star Game, won the Slam-Dunk Championship, and was named to the All-NBA First Team. Despite Jordan's all-world performance, the Bulls still couldn't break above the .500 mark. They slipped a notch in the Central Division, finishing fifth with a 40-42 record, and drew Boston in the first round of the playoffs. For the second straight year the Celtics sent the Bulls home with a three-game sweep. Jordan averaged 35.7 points but shot just .417 from the field in that series.
Three games into the 1985-86 season, Jordan went down with a broken bone in his left foot. He was sidelined for 64 games before returning in mid-March. Without Jordan for most of the campaign, the Bulls won only 30 games but still managed to snag a playoff berth. In 18 regular-season games Jordan averaged 22.7 points, 2.9 assists, and 3.6 rebounds, all career lows. He was voted to the All-Star squad but was unable to play because of the injury. With a spectacular three-game outburst in the Bulls' opening-round playoff loss to Boston, Jordan showed that he had completely recovered. In Game 2 he scored a playoff-record 63 points in Chicago's double-overtime 135-131 loss to the Celtics. He averaged an astonishing 43.7 points for the three-game series.
Jordan came into the NBA after an outstanding three-year career at North Carolina. As a freshman, he hit the jump shot that gave the Tar Heels the NCAA Championship in 1982. He was College Player of the Year in 1984. Jordan averaged 17.7 points in three seasons before declaring himself eligible for the NBA draft after his junior year. The Chicago Bulls took him with the No. 3 overall pick. (Houston took Hakeem Olajuwon with the first pick, while Portland drafted Sam Bowie at No. 2.) Between his college and pro careers, he was co-captain and star of the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in 1984. Jordan joined a club that had finished at 27-55 the previous season and had been led in scoring by Quintin Dailey. Jordan lifted the team to a 38-44 record and a playoff berth for the first time since 1981. Voted a starter in the 1985 All-Star Game, he scored 7 points in 22 minutes. On February 12 he set a club single-game rookie record by pouring in 49 points against the Detroit Pistons. He finished the season with a scoring average of 28.2 points per game (third in the league behind the New York Knicks' Bernard King and the Boston Celtics' Larry Bird) and set Chicago single-season records for points (2,313), field goals (837), free throws (630), free-throw attempts (746), and steals (196). It all added up to an NBA Rookie of the Year Award, a slot on the NBA All-Rookie Team, and a selection to the All-NBA Second Team. After finishing fourth in the Central Division, the Bulls faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs and fell in four games. Jordan averaged 29.3 points in the series.