How Michael Jordan Became
The Greatest NBA Player
In History

Simply known as MJ, Michael Jordan did to basketball what Michael Jackson did to music: he revolutionized it. He was able to turn the sport into something everyone wanted to be associated with and turned his jersey number 23 into a globally recognized symbol synonymous with him. 

His net worth of $750 million is proof enough of his impact on basketball, merchandising and pop culture.

chicago bulls number 23

Number 23, the number synonymous with "Greatness"

Early Years Of A Legend

Michael initially had an interest in baseball. He often played catch with his father, James Jordan, who was an avid lover of the sport. He decided to venture into basketball since his brother, Larry, whom he idolized had followed that path.

He tried out for his high school team, but he couldn’t make it because of his short stature. This rejection sharpened his resolve to prove himself, and he became the star of his school’s junior squad. Michael grew a few inches the following summer and trained tirelessly. His efforts paid off when he earned a spot in the varsity roster.

The College Years

His success in high school had several college basketball programs falling over themselves to recruit him. He finally accepted a basketball scholarship to North Carolina University where he played under the legendary coach Dean Smith.

His first year was an impressive one where he was named the ACC Freshman of the Year. He describes his game winning shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship game as being a major turning point in his basketball career.

michael jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time
Photo by Jason H. Smith / CC BY 2.0

Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time


In 1984, after winning both the Naismith and Wooden College Player of the Year Awards, Michael decided to leave college a year early in order to enter the NBA draft. He later returned to North Carolina University to complete his degree in Cultural Geography two years later.

In the 1984 draft, The Chicago Bulls selected him with the third overall pick. Michael immediately made an impact with an impressive 28.2 points per game and soon became a fan favorite. Sports Illustrated magazine seemed to predict his future when Jordan appeared on the cover with the headline A Star Is Born barely a few months into his professional career.

His star had just begun to shine. He was selected to the NBA All-Star game as a starter in his first season. The attention that Michael was receiving fuelled much jealousy among the veteran players who decided to freeze him out during the game by refusing to pass him the ball. He was, however, unperturbed by this and went on to win the Rookie of the Year.

His subsequent years were characterized with a number of accolades. Throughout his professional career, he won the defensive player of the year award, five MVP awards for the regular season and six for the NBA finals as well as three for the All-Star game and six NBA championships. This was quite a feat for someone who initially had very little interest in basketball.

lol, an army compares himself to michael jackson
Photo by Jim Greenhill / CC BY 2.0

An army compares himself to Michael Jordan


Following an impressive run of three consecutive NBA championships, Michael announced his retirement from Basketball in 1993. He attributed his decision to a lack of desire to play as well as his father’s brutal murder earlier that year. His announcement shocked the NBA and even made front page news, a testament to his celebrity status.

He shocked people even further in 1994 when he started playing baseball. He signed a minor league baseball contract with The Chicago White Sox. Michael stated that his decision was driven by the desire to fulfil his late father’s dream who saw his son as a professional baseball player.


Without Michael, the Bulls had a hard time living up to its glory days. During the 1994-95 season, the team was struggling to secure a spot in the playoffs. This bleak outlook, however, changed when Michael decided to return to the NBA. His return to the court was met with a wide television audience, never seen in a regular NBA game since 1975.

In 1999, after etching his place in history as the NBAs greatest player of all time, Michael announced his retirement again. He later became part owner of the Washington Wizards and in 2001, announced that he would return to the NBA as a Wizards player. He finally retired for good after the 2002-03 season after a mediocre performance.

statue dedicated to the great michael jordan
Photo by Arnold Gatilao / CC BY 2.0

Monument dedicated to the great Michael Jordan

Lessons From Michael Jordan

  • Never be afraid to try something new. That’s how talent is discovered.
  • Never let what others feel about you determine how you behave.
  • Capitalize on every available opportunity.
  • Education is necessary despite wealth and success.

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"If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants." Isaac Newton

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