Michael Jordan: Revisiting his Career and “The Last Dance”
Who is the Greatest of All Time – the GOAT? Michael Jordan? Kobe Bryant? LeBron James? This is often a topic of heated debate, and usually, the two contenders for the title are Michael Jordan and LeBron James. There are diehard fans of both players who will always support their stance no matter the stats, accolades, and awards. Here we revisit Michael Jordan’s career and how he is easily the Greatest of All Time.
Michael Jordan: Revisiting What Makes him the Greatest of All Time
The debate has been reignited by the early release of ESPN’s ten-part documentary, “The Last Dance”. The first two episodes premiered on April 19th. ESPN reported an average of 6.1 million viewers across various platforms in the 9:00-11:00 p.m. EST time slot. It goes without saying, the much-anticipated release of The Last Dance did not disappoint.
Michael Jordan’s Beginnings
Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963, in Brooklyn and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina when he was a toddler. He explained during the first episode of “The Last Dance” that his parents enrolled him and his brother in every sport possible in order to keep them busy and out of trouble. Jordan played football, baseball, and basketball in high school, but his determination and grit to succeed were strongest in basketball.
The first time he tried out for the varsity basketball team he was told he was too short. He was cut from the team. Determined to prove the coaches wrong, he worked hard on the junior varsity team. As a result, he made the varsity basketball team the following year. Following his senior year, Jordan was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American game in which he scored 30 points.
During his senior year, he averaged 27 points, 12 rebounds and six assists per game. These stats made him highly recruited by many colleges. In “The Last Dance’ he explained how Dean Smith, the head coach of the University of North Carolina, assured his parents that academics came first, second to athletics. Michael Jordan and his parents decided that UNC was the school for him.
The UNC Years
Coach Dean Smith has been credited by Jordan himself for giving him the basketball foundation in which he thrived. Coach Smith took Jordan’s raw talent and used his coaching experience to help the young man grow, not only in basketball but as a man as well.
In his first year with UNC, Jordan played in 34 games and posted 460 points for the season. He was selected for the All-ACC Tournament, first team, as well as the NCAA All-Tournament.
The highlight of Jordan’s freshman year came in the final seconds of the NCAA Championship game against Georgetown when he made the game-winning shot. This highlight is one of the standouts of his entire career.
In his second year with the Tar Heels, he played 36 games and bettered himself in most of his stats, He recorded a 53.5 percent field goal average, posted a 73.7 percent free-throw average, 197 total rebounds, 56 assists, 78 steals, and nearly tripled his blocks with 28 for the season. He scored 721 points in total in his sophomore year.
Again, Jordan was named to the first team 1982-83 All-ACC team, in addition to the 1982-83 All-American team, the 1983 All-ACC Tournament, and the 1983 NCAA Tournament All-Region.
Entering his third year at UNC, Jordan didn’t know it would be his final year. However, at the end of the year, he declared for the 1984 NBA Draft. Jordan revealed during “The Last Dance” Coach Smith was a monumental factor in his decision to leave school early to enter the draft. Michael Jordan later went back to UNC and finished his schooling.
Jordan played in 31 games his final year scoring 607 total points. During his career at UNC, Jordan scored 1,788 points in total.
His Junior Year wasn’t any exception in the awards category either.
Junior Year Awards and Accolades:
- ACC Player of the Year
- AP Player of the Year
- Naismith Award
- NABC Player of the Year
- Rupp Trophy
- Sporting News Player of the Year
- UPI Player of the Year
- USBWA Player of the Year
- Wooden Award
In addition, Jordan was selected first-team to the All-ACC, Consensus All-American first team, and the All-ACC Tournament second team.
Michael Jordan’s college career remains one of the most impressive with not only his growth as a player, but also his numerous honors, awards, accolades, and achievements.
The Chicago Bulls Years
As mentioned above, Michael Jordan chose to forego his senior year and declared for the 1984 NBA Draft in which he was drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls.
In Jordan’s rookie year with Chicago, he started in all 82 games. Jordan led the league in the following categories at one time of his career or another. They Include Minutes per Game, Points per Game, Field Goals, Field Goal Average, Two-Point shots and attempts, Free-Throws and attempts, and steals.
Jordan is one of five players to retire more than once, but the only NBA player to retire twice. Jordan achieved what he set out to do before his first retirement – to take the Chicago Bulls to the Championship game and bring the trophy back to Chicago. He did just that, three times in a row, the first three-peat since the Boston Celtics won eight titles in a row in the 1959-66 seasons.
The Bulls would also have another three-peat, but this would follow Jordan’s first short-lived stint at retirement. During this year off from basketball, he played minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons.
Chicago’s first Championship victory came against the Los Angeles Lakers at the Forum in Los Angeles after beating them in three consecutive games. This will always be a historical moment in Michael Jordan’s lengthy career because it was the first championship for the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls defeated the Portland Trail Blazers to secure their second championship the following year. In 1993, they defeated the Phoenix Suns to acquire the third.
The three-peat following Michael Jordan’s first retirement came with victories over Seattle in 1996, the Utah Jazz in 1997 and his sixth Championship victory in seven years with the back-to-back victory over Utah in 1998.
Jordan was known for making baskets in clutch moments. His aero-dynamic jump shots are how he acquired the nickname Air Jordan. There are a wide variety of clips online that showcase Michael Jordan’s pure talent. One could spend hours watching highlights and clips from his illustrious career.
“The Last Dance” examines Jordan’s last year with the Chicago Bulls from the beginning of the season until the end, with highlights and reminiscences of his historical career along the way to the last season with the Bulls. In this highlight, all of the tension and turmoil we are beginning to learn about in the documentary seems worth the blood, sweat, and tears to get that sixth ring.
On January 13, 1999, Michael Jordan officially announced his second retirement from the NBA.
Awards and Accolades
- 1984-85 Rookie of the Year
- 1984-85 Sporting News Rookie of the Year
- 1988 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
- 1987-88 Defensive Player of the Year
- 1987-88 Sporting News MVP
- 1988-89 Sporting News MVP
- 1991 Finals Most Valuable Player
- 1990-91 Most Valuable Player
- 1990-91 Sporting News MVP
- 1992 Finals Most Valuable Player
- 1991-92 Most Valuable Player
- 1992-92 Sporting News MVP
- 1993 finals Most Valuable Player
- 1996 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
- 1996 Final Most Valuable Player
- 1995-96 Most Valuable Player
- 1995-96 Sporting News MVP
- 1997 Finals Most Valuable Player
- 1996-97 Sporting News MVP
- 1998 All-Star Game Most Valuable Player
- 1997-98 Most Valuable Player
- 1997-98 Sporting News MVP
- 14 All-Star Games (1984-1993, 1996-1998, 2002, 2003)
- 25 Player of the Week Awards
- 19 Player of the Month Awards
- 21 All-League Honors (All-Rookie, All-NBA, All-Defensive)
- 2 Olympic Gold Medals (1984, 1992)
The Washington Wizards brought Michael Jordan out of retirement for two seasons, in coordination with assisting 9/11 victims. For the first time in his professional career, he suited up in a uniform that wasn’t a Bulls’ uniform. Jordan played 60 games in his first season with Washington and the full 82 in his second season, starting 53 and 67 games respectively. When he retired for the third and final time, it was done with great fanfare – the only appropriate send-off for the Greatest of All Time.
As a member of the United States Men’s Basketball Team in 1984 and again in 1992, Jordan earned two Olympic Gold Medals. He was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2009 for his individual achievements, and again in 2010 as a member of the “Dream Team”. In addition, Michael Jordan was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama.
Currently, Michael Jordan is the principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets and makes a great deal of income from his multitude of endorsements and his Nike Air Jordan Brand merchandise. He also co-owns an automotive group in Durham and has shown interest in the restaurant business. More recently, Michael Jordan was one of the guest speakers at the memorial for his friend, and former rival, Kobe Bryant.
There are many great players in basketball history. There were greats before Michael Jordan, and there have been greats since Michael Jordan, but undeniably, Michael Jordan is the Greatest of All Time.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images