Michael Jordan was possibly the best basketball player in the history of the National Basketball Association. His career spanned over nineteen glorious seasons for the Chicago Bulls. 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. The magnitude of his Airness can be best shown through Michael’s soaring hang times and acrobatic moves, but the legend of MJ is characterized by his tough spirit, determination and passion of the greatest player in basketball history.
In 1984 Jordan came into the NBA after an outstanding three-year career at North Carolina. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Michael was raised in Wilmington, North Carolina. He hit the jump shot that gave the Tar Heels the NCAA Championship in 1982 and was the College Player of the Year in 1984. The Chicago Bulls took him with the No. 3 overall pick. Jordan joined a club that had finished at 27-55 the previous season and was considered one of the worst teams in the league. In his rookie season, Jordan lifted the team to a 38-44 record and a playoff berth for the first time since 1981. He finished the season with a scoring average of 28.2 points per game, third in the league, 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. The Bulls faced the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs and lost in all four games. Jordan averaged 29.3 points in the series, but couldn’t muster his first playoff victory. Dissatisfied and disappointed, Jordan trained hard over the off-season to win his first playoff series.
Early on in his career Michael was presented with mild success, but still unproven in the playoffs. Yet as the rest of the world was about to find out, MJ was possibly the most physically and mentally dominant player on the court. He earned the MVP status in 1988, 1991, and 1992, while scorching through the Finals and winning three consecutive NBA championships (1992-1993). He led the NBA in scoring for 7 consecutive seasons. In less than five years, Michael turned around a deteriorating Chicago Bulls franchise, into one of the NBA’s most storied dynasties.
Yet midway through Jordan’s career, several life changing controversial issues came about. In 1993, straight off of his third NBA championship, Michael’s father, James Jordan was murdered in his car in North Carolina. The shocking tragedy, hit Michael very closely, and to pay homage to his father, decided to quit from basketball and play baseball. The entire basketball world was in stunned. Many critics disagreed with the move, but Michael was determined. After one lackluster season with the minor league Birmingham Barons, Michael reasonably decided for his return to basketball and to the Bulls. Many fans were delighted to see the return of the most exciting player return to the courts.
After the death of his father and his stint with baseball, Jordan returned to his true love, basketball; and to resume his record breaking career. After his return to basketball, he played as if he had never left, leading the Bulls to a 70-win season and a return to the Finals in 1995. On Dec. 30, Michael scored in double digits for the 788th consecutive game, breaking Kareem Abdul Jabbers record. After seven NBA championships, Michael decided to retire from basketball. Yet with his charismatic ego and motivation to play the game, Michael returned once again to basketball, this time with the Washington Wizards. Two unsuccessful seasons later, at age 40, Michael decided to call it quits. In his final game played, he scored the final shot against the 76ers. Michael Jordan ended his career with 32,292 points, the 3rd highest in NBA history. Although many say he tarnished his career by playing with the unproductive Wizards, his leadership, long-term career and personal motivation cannot be dismissed. Arguably, Michael’s later achievements were more astonishing than before, with the strength of his spirit still strong, and knowledge of the game.
The mark of a great player is shown by an evolution of the game as it progresses. Michael changed the way basketball was played and contributed invaluable amounts of wisdom to younger players. Michael was most known for his offensive threat, but he taught others the fundamentals of great defense. He was the definition of a franchise player, bringing glory and fame to the Chicago Bulls who became the envy of every NBA team. He was also a member of the Olympic Dream Team that received the Gold Medal in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Spain. Off the court, Michael set up his own charity foundation, and helps poor children in violent neighborhoods. Never in trouble with the law, Michael became the ideal model citizen to represent the NBA.
The most inspirational and energetic player in the NBA never lost the thirst to succeed and the preservation to win. MJ will go down in history as the definition of competition at its best. Through tough times and tragedy, Michael never gave up and pressed on. The reason for Michael’s illustrious success has been nothing short of hard work and never surrendering. His will to win, at any cost, has motivated many athletes and non-athletes alike to set goals for themselves and to reach them.
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