Many people think Michael Jordan was the greatest basketball player ever. He led the Chicago Bulls to six National Basketball Association (NBA) championships. He earned the nickname “Air Jordan” because he often seemed to defy gravity on leaps toward the basket. Fans adored his smiling face and his determination to succeed. During his playing career, Michael Jordan became the most famous athlete in the world.
Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn, New York. His family later moved to Wilmington, North Carolina.
Young Michael’s best sport was baseball. He didn’t make his high school basketball team as a sophomore. Later, he played well enough to be noticed by Coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina (UNC). Jordan won a scholarship to UNC.
As a freshman at UNC, Jordan scored the winning basket in the 1982 national college tournament championship game. He played two more seasons at UNC. He also played for the United States team in the 1984 Olympic Games.
In 1984, Jordan entered the NBA player draft. He was chosen by the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan was a star from his first season with the Bulls. He was a scoring machine. The Bulls were not one of the NBA’s better teams, but they gradually improved. They made the NBA playoffs in their first five seasons with Jordan. However, they failed to make the NBA championship finals.
In 1989, Phil Jackson became the Bulls’ head coach. Under Jackson, Jordan became more of a team player, although he remained the NBA’s leading scorer. Jordan developed an incredible “court sense.” He knew where every player was on the basketball court, and what was the best play for the circumstances. In the 1990-1991 season, the Bulls won their first of three straight NBA championships.
In 1993, Jordan retired from basketball. He tried to make it in professional baseball, but he had little success. He rejoined the Bulls in 1995. In the 1995-1996 season, the Bulls started another run of three straight championships.
Jordan retired for a second time in 1998. He became part owner of the NBA’s Washington Wizards. The Wizards were not a good team. Jordan grew frustrated watching them lose. So in 2001, he came out of retirement again and played two seasons with the Wizards.
Jordan retired for good in 2003. He was third on the all-time NBA scoring list, with 32,292 points. He had the highest scoring average in league history: he scored an average of 30.1 points per game during his career. He led the NBA in scoring a record ten times. He won five NBA most valuable player awards. In addition, Jordan created millions of new fans for professional basketball around the world.