30 Michael Jordan Facts You Won’t See In The ‘Last Dance’
The Last Dance showcased the Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan’s greatness. But the documentary isn’t the FULL STORY of Jordan. Here are 30 things the Bulls doc didn’t tell you in the ESPN & Netflix miniseries.
Read on to discover 30 less known, Michael Jordan facts — some of them are left out the documentary — to have the whole picture about one of the greatest NBA player ever.
30. Chicago bulls
This iconic team from the Windy city was founded on January 16 1966 and they played their very first season in the same year NBA season 1966-67. The red and black team plays their home games in United Center, an arena located on the west side of Chicago. However, we would not be talking about this team now, if it wasn’t for His Airness, Mr. Michael Jordan.
The team had the biggest success since its foundation in 1990s, which coincidentally is also when they have onboarded Michael Jordan. The team had a major role in popularizing the NBA as an institution that it is today. This is where Jordan was pronounced Rookie of the year. After a foot injury, he returned to the team and led them to scoring 7 consecutive seasons with a whooping average of 33 points per game. Those are some amazing stats, aren’t they?
29. Early life in North Carolina
As many of you may know, Air Jordan despite of being born in NYC was uprooted from this ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made of’ as a toddler and he and his numerous family moved to Wilmington in North Carolina. This port city is where His Airness completed his highschool education, all the while proving himself as an incredible athlete. He was apt not only in basketball for which he will later become known, but also showed incredible results in baseball and football.
Funnily enough, the first time he wanted to join his high school basketball team in his sophomore year, he was deemed too short (at 180cm) and his taller friend made the team. However, this didn’t make him lose hope, on the contrary. After he grew 10 cm over the summer and trained extremely hard, he not only made the team but also averaged more than 25 points per game. From then on, his way was only upwards. He got offered many sports scholarships and ended up accepting the one from the University of North Carolina.
28. Hall of fame
One of the greatest athletes of all time, mr. Michael Jordan was inaugurated into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on September 11th 2009. This Bulls legend was enshrined with other legends from the Class of 2009, including Jerry Sloan, John Stockton, C. Vivian Stringer and David Robinson.
And here’s a bit of context on the Naismith Hall of Fame for the less informed- it is a history museum and hall of fame located in Springfield (Massachusetts). It stands as a monumental institution that helps preserve basketball as a sport and it owes its name to the Canadian-American physician and inventor of the sport James Naismith.
27. Gold on Olympics 1984 and Ultimatum on Olympics 1992
In the summer Olympic games in 1984, hosted by the city of angels, Los Angeles (CA) he led the national team to the brightest medal of the games. The team went undefeated throughout the tournament and then, unsurprisingly won the gold medal. However, this was not the only time Air Jordan competed in the most expected sporting event.
The second and last time mr Jordan participated in the Olympics was in Barcelona in 1992 where the team, unsurprisingly, brought the gold medal home again. The team itself became something of a legend and was even inaugurated into the Naismith Hall of fame as ‘the greatest collection of basketball talent on the planet’. Rumor has it that Jordan’s major rival, Isiah Thomas, did not make the team because Michael himself twisted the arm of the officials claiming that he would not play in the same team as Isiah.
26. Acting stint in Space jam
Now, I am sure each and every one of us has at least heard of this legendary film, starring Bugs Bunny, Elmer, Taz and Daffy Duck and of course the one and only Michael Jordan. This animated sports comedy film narrates an interesting story about the athlete’s life. In fact, it tells us a fairy-tailish story of Jordan’s 2 year retirement and reasons for going back to playing ball.
In this film, Michael, despite the fact that he is the protagonist, isn’t the only NBA star appearing. There are also Danny Ainge, Steve Kerr, Alonzo Mourning, Horace Grant, A. C. Green, Charles Oakley, Luc Longley, Cedric Ceballos just to name a few. The film grossed $90,418,342 in the USA and Canada alone.
25. Gambling problem
I am sure we all know at least one person out there that has had (or still does) a gambling problem. There is something so enticing in trying to win copious amounts of money quickly, there’s the adrenaline, the excitement and the anticipation just before you turn your cards (if your poison is Black Jack).
There is something comforting in hearing that even great athletes such as Michael Jordan had been seduced by Lady Gamble. In fact, there are many rumors shrouded in a veil of mystery around the amount of money the athlete has lost while gambling. For example, the author, Richard Esquinas, even wrote a book in 1993 claiming that he’d won $1.25 million from Jordan on the golf course.
One of the best athletes of all time, the star of Chicago Bulls and their most paid player of all time, is just a human being like any of us as his aquaphobia, also known as fear of water, testifies. His fear of water dates back from his childhood, when he watched a friend of his get pulled into the undertow and drown to death.
As if this is not enough to scare anyone witless, shortly after that he nearly drowned himself in basketball camp. Even though he claims to have overcome most of his fear of water, he admits shamelessly that he can easily feel uncomfortable on a small boat or close to large bodies of water.
23. Father of five
It must be really difficult to try to keep your private life private when you are such an incredibly big star. Despite that, however, Michael has managed to keep his private life rather far from the public and their judgments. What we do know, however, is that His Airness got married twice.
His first marriage was to Juanita Vanoy, from which he has three children Jeffrey Michael, Marcus James and Jasmine. They divorced in 2006 after 17 years of marriage and his wife received a whopping amount of $168million which at the time was the largest celebrity divorce. After that, in 2013 he married his long-term girlfriend, a model Yvette Prieto, which gave birth to his twin daughters Victoria and Ysabel a year later.
22. Presidential Medal of freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom, the foremost U.S. civilian decoration, is awarded to individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The person deciding the recipient of this award is the president of the USA himself.
In 2016, the president Barack Obama gave a medal of freedom to one of the best basketball players of all time. He gave a witty speech, pointing out that Jordan is a “more than just an Internet meme.” Referring to Jordan, the president also noted the class of medal recipients included a “renown character actor like the guy from Space Jam.”
21. Charlotte Bobcats (now Charlotte hornets)
In 2006, MJ decided to buy a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats (now known as the Hornets), becoming the team’s second-largest shareholder behind majority owner Robert L. Johnson. As part of the deal, Jordan took full control over the basketball side of the operation and was given the title Managing Member of Basketball Operations.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that the legend such as Jordan is involved in the team management, the Hornets cannot seem to be able to surface and shine brightly on the NBA sky. For example, the team closed out the 2011-12 NBA season with a 23-game losing streak. Their .106 winning percentage was the worst in NBA history.
20. Selflessly thinking of less fortunate ones others
The second time MJ came out of retirement (and didn’t join Chicago Bulls but signed with Washington Wizards instead) was right after the infamous 9/11 attacks. He announced that his entire first year salary will go entirely to charity, in order to help the victims of the said attack.
He donated a total of $1 000 000, of which $900 000 went to different organizations helping the victims and survivors and $100 000 were donated to children who lost their parents. Despite the fact that this was by far not one of the best seasons for Michael, we are sure that every single person that benefited from his donations is deeply grateful. It’s nice to see a successful person willing to give back to his community.
19. The only billionaire athlete
Despite his retirement, MJ still manages to earn incredible amounts of money every year. This is due to his Air Jordan brand and partnership with Nike, car dealerships, restaurants and many other entrepreneurial endeavors. As we’ve mentioned before, he also owns his own basketball team, Charlotte Hornets.
All of these make him the only billionaire athlete (according to Forbes), despite the fact that he is not the first athlete to become a billionaire. The first one to take that title was Tiger Woods, but soon after the cheating scandal broke out which made him lose many sponsors. Consequently, he lost the label of the only billionaire athlete quite soon after.
18. Leaving retirement for the second time
Michael Jordan announced in 2001 that he will be ending his retirement for the second time. This time however, he decided the team called Washington Wizards will be one he will be winning for. However, his first season back on the court was marked by a number of serious injuries such as torn cartilage in his right knee.
Jordan started 53 of his 60 games for the season, averaging 24.3 points, 5.4 assists, and 6.0 rebounds, and shooting 41.9% from the field in his 53 starts. His last seven appearances were in a reserve role, in which he averaged just over 20 minutes per game. He played his final game on April 16 2003 in Philadelphia in which he scored 13 points. At the end, he received a three-minute standing ovation from everyone present.
17. Most Valuable player (MVP)
After his brief career change to baseball and returning to his one and only Chicago Bulls, from 1996 to 1998 Jordan won three championships in a row and each time he was pronounced Most valuable player (MVP) of the finals. After this incredible streak he decided to retire again.
Jordan has won five regular-season MVPs (tied for second place with Bill Russell—only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has won more, with six), six Finals MVPs (NBA record), and three All-Star Game MVPs, which makes him the most decorated player in NBA history. Taking all this into consideration, the fact that he was named ‘the best basketball player of all time’ by his contemporaries should not come as a surprise.
16. Professional baseball career
In October 1993 the athlete announced that he intends to retire from basketball in order to pursue a career in baseball. This decision of the legendary number 23 came even more as a surprise since he announced it right after achieving the third consecutive championship for the Chicago Bulls. Unsurprisingly, this news shook the whole NBA world.
As MJ himself narrates, he decided to give his second most loved sport a shot, just a few months after the murder of his father partially as an omage to his deceased parent. He was signed by White Sox, however it appears that he was not as great at it as he was in basketball. That’s probably why he decided to return to basketball in March 1995.
15. 3000 points in a season
We have mentioned a number of Jordan’s incredible accomplishments, but did you know that this force of nature on the basketball court has managed to score 3000 points in a season? He achieved this in the NBA season 1986-87 and it made him the second player who managed to score that many points in a single season.
His average high was 37.1 points on 48.2% shooting. In addition, Jordan demonstrated his defensive abilities, as he became the first player in NBA history to record 200 steals and 100 blocked shots in a season. The only player who managed to get 3000 points in one season before him was Wilt Chamberlain.
14. 10 triple doubles in 11 games
In the season 1988-89, the Bulls decided to put Jordan on a test and check his point guard abilities. So far, we have been commenting on his scoring abilities (and how can we not, I mean, look at the man’s stats!), but this section will show you another face of Michael Jordan’s play.
Over the course of eleven games, Jordan posted an incredible 10 triple doubles, which shows his average is a breathtaking 33.6 PPG, 10.8 RPG and 11.4 APG. In the sole game he did not post a triple double, he posted a stat-line that any player would be more than thrilled to register with 40 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds. Unsurprisingly, he had the best stats in scoring that season as well.
13. The Jordan rules, what are they?
The Jordan Rules were a successful defensive basketball strategy employed by the Detroit Pistons against the legendary Michael Jordan, in order to limit his performance in the game. These rules were devised by Isiah Thomas in 1988, Jordan’s before mentioned rival and nemesis. The Pistons’ strategy was “to play him tough, to physically challenge him and to vary its defenses so as to try to throw him off balance.”
The Jordan rules proved themselves most effective during the first three playoff encounters between the Bulls and the Pistons. This strategy was later used by the Knicks, who, unfortunately for them, were not as successful in executing it as the Pistons had been. Since then, this strategy has been used against other big players.
12. ‘Jordan’ numbers
As we all know, the most popular number of jersey that His Airness wore was number 23, which was also retired from basketball in 1994 by the Bulls in a ceremony that included the erection of a permanent sculpture known as The Spirit outside the new United Center.
However, on more than one occasion, this basketball superstar has worn different numbers, namely number 45 and once even number 12. This one occasion when he was obliged to wear number 12 was in 1990 when his beloved jersey number 23 mysteriously disappeared from his locker room in Orlando. MJ was obliged to wear the nameless number 12 for that game. MJ decided to try wearing a different number, 45, when he returned from his first retirement in 1995.
11. Only Player to Win the Scoring Title and DPOTY in the Same Season
In the NBA season 1987-88 he became the only player to ever win the scoring title (with 35 PPG) as well the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOTY) award in the same season (averaging a league high 3.16 SPG and 1.6 BPG). Unsurprisingly, he also took home the MVP award that season.
One of the major things that makes this man an authentic hardwood superstar is not only the fact that he is an incredible scorer with the average of 33.6, but also that his defense is not any weaker because of that. These two combined definitely make him, at the very least, a difficult opponent.
10. Golf obsession
We have talked so much about Jordan’s knack for sports, his basketball skills are undeniable, his baseball career was not bad but he also had a certain passion for golf. There are many interesting stories from the golf course with MJ as the main character and here we will mention just the most interesting few.
He bet the golf legend, Tiger Wood, that he would break 92 at the 2009 Golf Digest U.S. Open Challenge at Bethpage Black and he won! He played 36 holes in Barcelona just before the 1992 Dream team game. His passion for golf was so incredible that he even got married on a golf course.
09. Holds the Record for Career Regular Season and Playoff Scoring Average
MJ holds the record for regular season scoring average with a mammoth 30.12 PPG, as well as the playoff record with an astonishing 33.45 PPG. A great scorer will always be able to adjust and score in a number of different fashions, and Jordan is a textbook example of this, as he developed a near unstoppable post-game once he lost some of his speed and explosiveness.
This quality enabled him to continue scoring throughout his career, and helped him to average more than other NBA superstars such as LeBron, Kobe, Iverson, Shaq, Bird, Wilkins and even Wilt Chamberlain.
08. Rivalry(ies) of His Airness
As any other successful man, the hardwood superstar had his rivals and dislikes. He had an ongoing dispute with Jerry Krause, the Chicago Bulls former general manager. In a documentary about Jordan, ‘Last dance’, he is depicted as a villain. Apparently, as Jerry Reinsdorf, the Bulls owner,put it in the documentary he had a “way of alienating people”.
We have already briefly mentioned the rivalry between Jordan and Isiah Thomas that some may even describe as hatred. For one, it has been rumored that Jordan has blackmailed the officials of what was about to become the Dream Team for the 1992 Olympics with himself leaving the team if they decided to bring Thomas.
07. An Idol or two – Magic Johnson and Julius Erving
In one of his many interviews, Michael Jordan talks about loving to watch the NBA as a child and watching Magic Johnson. He saw the man as his utter idol and dreamed of growing up and becoming just like him. He was so fond of the legendary player that he had his friends in high school call him ‘Magic Jordan’. The license plates of his first car contained that name,, that’s how big his worship was.
Julius Erving, yet another hardwood legend, also inspired MJ. he watched his games, studied his moves and later one implemented them into his own game. The experts say that the dunk from the free throw line in the dunk contest was one of the things Jordan learned from Dr. J.
06. He wasn’t picked as number 1 draft
The 1984 annual draft is considered to be one of the greatest in NBA history. This is due to the fact that it contained four Hall of Famers being drafted in the first sixteen picks and five overall. It included Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, John Stockton and Akeem Olajuwon who was picked first.
However, the biggest surprise, from our point of view, is the fact that Jordan was not the number one draft. The first one to be picked was Akeem Olajuwon by Houston Rockets, the second one Sam Bowie, who started playing for Portland Trail Blazers (from Indiana) and Jordan was on the third spot, having been recognized by Chicago Bulls.
05. Auctioned sneakers
Michael Jordan’s autographed sneakers have been sold for a record $560,000 at Sotheby’s. A pair of Nike sneakers made and worn by basketball legend Michael Jordan fetched $560,000 at a single-lot sale at Sotheby’s on Sunday, making them the most expensive sneakers ever sold at auction.
Former Utah Jazz ball boy Preston Truman sold the shoes Jordan wore during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals at auction for $104,765. Despite suffering from the flu, Jordan scored 38 points and led the Bulls to win the game. Afterward, Jordan autographed and gave the sneakers, Air Jordan XII’s, to Truman.
04. Air Jordans are forbidden from NBA
We have all heard of Air Jordans, the incredible line owned by the legendary player himself. However did you know that Air Jordan‘s shoes were banned upon introduction by the NBA? Nevertheless, Jordan kept wearing them anyways, since Nike was more than willing to pay the fine for each game.
You may wonder (as we did), why they were banned from the NBA in the first place. Well, apparently, that’s because their colors broke the league’s uniform rules. It appears that the league even wrote an infamous letter to Nike in February 1985 explaining that the black and red shoes were prohibited. However, as we know, that didn’t stop Jordan from wearing them.
03. Reebok or Nike? That is the question!
In 1992, Michael Jordan was the ambassador of Nike but his team was sponsored by Reebok. This was a bit of a difficult situation for the basketball legend, but he cunningly found his way out of it! 0n the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Jordan defied his team’s sponsorship with Reebok by using the American flag to cover up their logo.
Being Nike’s ambassador—he was not allowed to wear something with the competition’s brand! He wore the flag always, saying that “the American flag cannot deface anything.” He used it to completely cover Reebok’s logo on the right shoulder of his uniform. Ingenious, isn’t it?
02. Baggy basketball shorts
Did you know that oversized baggy basketball shorts were not always that baggy? And did you know that you have Jordan to thank for this luxurious extra room space while playing pro ball? There are two different explanations for this, both of which may have their portion of the truth.
The 1980s legend Michael Jordan is credited for adding inches to the hemline. So the story goes, while playing with the Chicago Bulls he requested that the team’s manufacturer, Champion, drop the seam because he had a habit of tugging on his shorts while playing defense. The second explanation, that admittedly might also be more romanticized, says that he started wearing longer baggy shorts because he wanted to wear his University of North Carolina shorts under his uniform.
1. Yearly salary during the Bulls Last dance
And now for the last, but certainly not least interesting fact about Michael Jordan – do you know what his yearly salary during the Bulls Last dance (aka season 1997-198) was? We will tell you! It was $33.14 million. Now while you let that sink in a bit, we will give a comparison to his fellow players.
Michael Jordan’s salary of $33.14 million for the 1997-98 season was more than twice as much as the combined salaries of teammates Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Ron Harper and Toni Kukoč. And here’s another number fact for you – Jordan had earned a combined $27.98 million over his first 11 seasons in the league, so $33.14 million was more than a slight improvement.