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Jul 20, 2023 | Blog

15 Fun Facts About ”His Airness”‘ Basketball Legend, Michael Jordan

NBA legend Michael Jeffrey Jordan has left his mark as one of the greatest basketball players of all time. He remains one of the most recognizable and popular athletes in the world.

“His Airness” helped make the NBA what it is today. MJ’s incredible talent, competitiveness, and history with the sport make him a fascinating talent. Outside of the basketball world, he is a major brand, successful entrepreneur, and generous philanthropist.

He keeps his personal life private, which adds a bit of mystery to his character. With such a long and fascinating career, there are many intriguing stories to tell.

Here’s a look at 15 fun facts about Michael Jordan.

1. Jordan’s Love for Adidas

Growing up, Jordan loved Adidas tennis shoes. They were his favorite, and his love for them almost prevented him from accepting a major endorsement deal with Nike.

Jordan didn’t want to meet with Nike representatives. He told his manager he wasn’t interested and instead wanted to make a deal with Adidas.

Falk encouraged Jordan, and his parents, to meet with Nike, and the company offered him a 5-year deal worth 2.5 million dollars. The rest is history.

The deal is still going strong. In 2022, the Jordan brand reached over $5 billion in sales. In 2013, Jordan asked whether his brand would have been as strong with Adidas. 

There’s no way to know the answer, but it’s hard to imagine the Jordan brand without Nike at this point.

2. The High School Myth

You may have heard the story about how Jordan was cut from the basketball team in high school. He has mentioned how his high school basketball days motivated him throughout the course of his career.

The truth is, he wasn’t actually cut from the team. According to his former coach, Clifton “Pop” Herring, Michael just missed being promoted to the varsity team.

Instead, he was placed on the junior varsity team. Apparently, this setback motivated Jordan to work even harder to achieve his goals.

3. He Once Wore #12

Jordan’s #23 jerseys are iconic. Young athletes of all sports choose #23 because it was Jordan’s number.

The number is part of his brand, but it’s not the only number he wore in his career. His #23 was retired while he was playing baseball.

After his return to basketball, he wore #45. For one game in 1990, he had to wear a nameless #12 jersey against the Orlando Magic.

Someone broke into the locker room and stole his #23 jersey. Jordan was angry, but still managed to drop 49 points that game without his prized jersey.

4. He’s Afraid of the Water

When Michael was a child, he watched a friend drown. This led to a phobia of water.

Michael’s fear of water almost led to him drowning at baseball camp at age 11. Jordan has managed to overcome his fear of the water, for the most part.

Although he will get in the water today, he’s still uncomfortable around large bodies of water and small boats.

5. His Father Was Killed

Fame does not always lead to happiness. In 1993, James Jordan, Michael’s dad, was shot while he was asleep in his car.

Police found his body in a swamp in South Carolina. Two men were arrested and later convicted of his murder.

This tragedy understandably had a huge impact on Jordan. Shortly after his father’s death, Jordan retired from playing basketball.

After returning to the game, the Bulls won their first title since his father’s death on Father’s Day. The moment was overwhelming for Jordan, who cried on the locker room floor following the win.

6. He Made 10 Triple Doubles in 11 Games

Jordan was always amazing on the court, but he wasn’t known for making triple-doubles. He showed the world his ability to dominate the game during the 1988-89 NBA season.

Incredibly, Jordan hit 10 triple-doubles over the course of 11 games, making 7 in a row. Although he was killing it and demonstrating his versatility on the court, the team wasn’t winning as much as they should.

During the 11-game stretch, “His Airness” averaged an unbelievable 33.6 PPG, 11.4 APG, and 10.8 RPG. In the one game he didn’t collect a triple-double, Jordan dropped 40 points and made 11 assists and 7 boards.

7. He Smoked as Part of a Pregame Ritual

In 1991, after winning an NBA championship, Jordan smoked his first cigar. In 1993, he decided to smoke a cigar as part of his pregame ritual.

Jordan would smoke a cigar before every home game. It gave him a sense of relaxation and success.

In a 2005 interview with Cigar Aficionado, he referred to smoking cigars as “the most relaxing thing.”

8. He Donated a Year’s Salary to 9/11 Relief

In 2001, Jordan came out of retirement to play for the Wizards. Although he looked out of place in a Wizard’s jersey, his return was for a good cause.

He returned to the game shortly after the 9/11 tragedies. He announced his intentions to donate his salary for the season to relief efforts.

He donated $900,000 to relief efforts and $100,000 to children whose parents died on 9/11. Jordan wanted his return to stand for something and chose to make a lasting impact through his generosity.

9. He’s the Older Player to Score 40 Plus Points

Although Jordan’s time with the Wizards wasn’t a huge success, he proved he was still capable as an older player. He’s the only over-40 NBA player to hit over 40 points in a game.

He’s also the only 40-year-old player to average more than 20 PPG. During his first season with the Wizards, Jordan became the oldest NBA player to score 50 points in a game.

Playing with the Bulls at age 35, Jordan was the oldest player to be named MVP and scoring champion. At every age, Michael Jordan defied the odds to break records and inspire millions of young players around the globe.

10. How Old Is Michael Jordan

Jordan is now 60 years old. For his 60th birthday, he donated $10 million to Make-A-Wish America. This non-profit grants wishes to critically ill children. 

According to Make-a-Wish, Jordan’s donation is the largest in its history. He has supported the Make-a-Wish organization since 1989.

His goal was to inspire others to give to the organization and to expand life-changing wishes throughout local communities in the U.S. Jordan claimed there was no better gift than seeing the children’s wishes come true.

11. He’s had Two Marriages and Five Children

Unlike many pro athletes, Michael Jordan has tried to keep his personal life out of the headlines. In 1989, Michael married his first wife, Juanita Vanoy. They had three children, Jefferey, Marcus, and Jasmine.

They would later divorce in 2006. At the time, it was the largest celebrity divorce, and Vanoy received $168 million in the end.

In 2013, Michael married model Yvette Prieto. Unlike his first wife, Prieto signed a prenuptial agreement. 

A year later, they had twins, Ysabel and Victoria. Although MJ has kept his personal life private for the most part, there has been a lot of attention around his sons and whether they would follow in his giant footsteps.

12. He’s a Billionaire

Michael Jordan is possibly the greatest player the NBA has ever seen. Beyond the court, he has amassed great wealth and has become a global brand.

He earns a huge amount of money each year for his many business ventures, which include his Air Jordan brand, Nike partnership, restaurants, and car dealerships.

Unbelievably, at Michael Jordan’s age, he still earns more in commercial endorsements than current NBA superstars. Jordan is now the principal owner of the Hornets. 

Although Forbes named Jordan a billionaire in 2014, he wasn’t the first athlete to achieve this status. Tiger Woods was named a billionaire in 2009, two months before his cheating scandal.

Consequently, Woods lost most of his sponsors and endorsements and also lost his billionaire status.

13. He Scored 3 Home Runs With the Chicago White Sox

Jordan’s career as a baseball player was the butt of jokes, especially in Space Jam. Although he didn’t have great success on the baseball field, there were a few highlights.

Jordan loves the game of baseball. Following his retirement from the NBA, he signed on with the minor league Chicago White Sox and played for the Birmingham Barons.

MJ went 0-3 at the plate in his first game, and the team lost. However, he managed to hit a home run a few months after joining the team. He went on to hit two more during his time with the team.

In 127 baseball games, Jordan had a batting average of .202, made three home runs, and stole 30 bases. After this, he returned to his beloved Bulls and the game of basketball.

He earns a huge amount of money each year for his many business ventures, which include his Air Jordan brand, Nike partnership, restaurants, and car dealerships.

Unbelievably, at Michael Jordan’s age, he still earns more in commercial endorsements than current NBA superstars. Jordan is now the principal owner of the Hornets. 

Although Forbes named Jordan a billionaire in 2014, he wasn’t the first athlete to achieve this status. Tiger Woods was named a billionaire in 2009, two months before his cheating scandal.

Consequently, Woods lost most of his sponsors and endorsements and also lost his billionaire status.

14. He Has a Table With 32,292 Holes

How do you commemorate scoring over 32,000 points during your NBA career? Jordan decided that getting a table with that many holes was a great way to do it.

Sculptor and artist Michael Enn Sirvet created a large aluminum table with 32,292 holes in honor of Michael Jordan’s amazing career.

15. Jordan Loves E-Sports

E-Sports is hot and considered the wave of the future. Jordan saw promise in the potential of these games.

He was part of a multi-million dollar investment into e-sports and the company aXiomatic in 2018. It is a turnaround for Jordan, who refused to opt into a licensing agreement for video games during his career on the court.

Fun Facts About Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan, AKA “His Airness,” is considered one of the greatest basketball players to ever grace the NBA court. Throughout his career, he brought joy to fans, inspiration to young players, and a renewed interest in the game of basketball. 

If you love basketball, you should check out the Basketball Museum of Illinois. Our goal is to honor the history of basketball in our state, celebrate current achievements, and inspire future generations.

Take a look at our entertaining basketball galleries today.

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