By acclamation, Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time. Although, a summary of his basketball career and influence on the game inevitably fails to do it justice, as a phenomenal athlete with a unique combination of grace, speed, power, artistry, improvisational ability and an unquenchable competitive desire, Jordan single-handedly redefined the NBA superstar. Even contemporaneous superstars recognized the unparalleled position of Jordan. Magic Johnson said, "There's Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us." Larry Bird, following a playoff game where Jordan dropped 63 points on the Boston Celtics in just his second season, appraisal of the young player was: "God disguised as Michael Jordan.
A brief listing of his top accomplishments would include the following: Rookie of the Year; Five-time NBA MVP; Six-time NBA champion; Six-time NBA Finals MVP; Ten-time All-NBA First Team; Nine time NBA All-Defensive First Team; Defensive Player of the Year; 14-time NBA All-Star; Three-time NBA All-Star MVP; 50th Anniversary All-Time Team; Ten scoring titles -- an NBA record and seven consecutive matching Wilt Chamberlain; Retired with the NBA's highest scoring average of 30.1ppg. However, his impact is far greater than awards and championships. He burst into the league as a rookie sensation scoring in droves with an unmatchable first step and acrobatic drives and dunks and concluded his career as a cultural icon. Along the way, he became a true champion who spearheaded the globalization of the NBA with his dynamic on court abilities and personal sense of style that was marketed to the masses.
He was an accessible star who managed to maintain an air of mystique. He was visible as "Air Jordan," as part of a sneaker advertising campaign and endorsing other products as well as the star of the movie, Space Jam. However, he would vanish into retirement twice only to return until hanging up the sneakers for the last time after the 2002-03 season. Although Brooklyn born, Jordan was bred in the more tranquil North Carolina. The son of Delores and James Jordan, he shared a special bond with his father, which included baseball being both of their first love. However, following his older brother, Larry, whom he idolized and was a spectacular athlete in his own right, Jordan began to play basketball.
He attended Laney High school in Wilmington, North Carolina, but as a 5-11 skinny sophomore, he was cut from the varsity basketball team. The summer before his junior year, he grew to 6-3 and began his path to super-stardom. A Tar Heel at heart, the high school All-American attended the University of North Carolina. As a freshman, he played somewhat in the shadows of upperclassmen James Worthy and Sam Perkins. However, he shone in the spotlight of the NCAA Championship game against Georgetown and another great freshman Patrick Ewing, whom he would foil future NBA championships for as well. Jordan scored 16 points, grabbed nine rebounds and made the winning basket on a 16-foot jumper with 18 seconds in the game for the 63-62 victory.
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