Michael Jordan played fifteen seasons in the National Basketball Association (NBA) and as a professional athlete has been one of the most effectively marketed ones of all time. Jordan’s talent, drive and competitive spirit were instrumental in popularizing the NBA internationally during his years on the court. Discover many interesting facts about Michael Jordan that cover his childhood, early life, family, basketball career, brand endorsements, and more.
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Facts about Michael Jordan’s childhood
1. Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York and his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina when he was just a toddler, where he grew up and went to school.
2. Michael was the fourth of five children of Deloris and James Raymond Jordan, three brothers and two sisters.
3. Michael Jordan’s idol as a child was Magic Johnson and his own nickname was “Magic Jordan” as a result. He even had a license plate with this nickname on it on his first car — a 1976 Grand Prix.
4. His father and his father’s grandfather both stuck their tongues out when concentrating and working and Michael learned to do the same thing. In fact, his dad was his first basketball trainer.
5. A tragic incident in his childhood led to a lifetime phobia of water. He witnessed a good friend get sucked into the ocean’s undertow and drown. Then when he was eleven, he himself almost drowned while at baseball camp. To this day he is not comfortable on boats and around large bodies of water.
33. Jordan’s deal with Nike almost didn’t come to fruition. Michael wanted to wear Adidas and was also offered a deal to endorse a small brand called Spot-Bilt. Nike offered a then-enormous deal of $500 grand annually for five years. They also promised to tailor the sneaker to Jordan’s liking. Jordan still wanted Adidas and went to them once more. They could in no way match Nike’s offer though. So Jordan and Nike struck a deal and the rest is marketing history. Nike launched Air Jordan and by the end of 1985 the line had earned more than $100 million in revenue. An ironic note is that Jordan didn’t care for his first shoes, the Air Jordan I. He soon changed his mind when he realized the shoes distracted the other players.
34. Eventually Jordan challenged basketball by wearing his beloved black and red Air Jordan sneakers. They were against the NBA dress code. Jordan paid every fine for wearing them from his Nike’s endorsements. Today, even all these years after his retirement, he is still of the world’s top 50 highest paid athletes.
35. Before 1997, Jordan never earned more than $4 million in a season playing basketball. He was the league’s highest paid player in only two of his seasons. In 1997 he was paid $30 million and in 1998 he was paid $33 million.
36. Jordan has also enjoyed endorsement deals with brands like Gatorade, Coca-Cola and Hanes and has been featured in their series of commercials.
37. Michael Jordan also is affiliated with several restaurants, including the Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse in Grand Central Station Terminal in New York City.
38. From 2004 until the end of 2013 he owned Michael Jordan Motorsports. This company had a professional closed-course motorcycle racing team. They competed in the AMA sanctioned Superbike Championship with two Suzukis.
39. Jordan bought a share of his home state’s Charlotte Bobcats, nee Hornets, in 2006, and joined its executives as managing member of baseball operations. The Hornets had gone to New Orleans.
40. In 2010 he became the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats and when the name became available as the Hornets became the Pelicans, bought it back. Now he is the head of basketball operations for the Charlotte Hornets and improving the teams’ record is his number one goal.
41. He is the first former NBA player to become the majority owners of an NBA team and the only African-American majority owner of any NBA team. He joined the Forbes’ list of international billionaires in 2015, the first professional athlete to achieve this level of success.
42. Jordan is also a noted philanthropist. He sponsored his Michael Jordan Celebrity Invitation Pro-Am Golf Tournament in Las Vegas for fourteen years from 2001 to 2014 and is said to be searching for property in Florida on which to develop his own golf club. He plays golf in celebrity charity tournaments that provide basketball scholarships while also donating to high schools, Habitat for Humanity, branches of the Boys and Girls Club of America, and other worthwhile projects.
About Michael Jordan’s personal life, friends, father, and backup career
43. His full name is Michael Jeffrey Jordan and he is known to his friends as MJ, some of whom include Spike Lee and Oprah Winfrey.
44. His best friend is a limousine driver he met when he arrived in Chicago for the first time in 1984. The Bulls didn’t remember to send someone to the airport to meet him and a driver named George Koehler offered to help him. George’s rider hadn’t shown up and George mistook Michael for his brother Larry Jordan, whom Koehler had gone to high school with. He only charged Jordan $25 to take him round the city. Eventually Koehler would become his regular driver and a lifelong friendship developed between the two men. They are still best friends.
45. Michael Jordan was married to Juanita Vanoy for seventeen years and they have three children together: Jeffrey, Marcus, and Jasmine. They divorced in 2002, reconciled, then divorced again in 2006 for good. The divorce was on amicable and mutual terms. At that time, their divorce settlement of $168 million was the most expensive celebrity divorce in history.
46. Jordan married model Yvette Prieto in April of 2013. She signed a prenuptial agreement before the wedding. Their twin daughters Victoria and Ysabel were born in February 2014.
47. Michael’s Jupiter, Florida mansion houses a basketball court, eleven bedrooms, a pool house, guard house and guest house. Its personal movie theater was built to Jordan’s specifications to handle enormous amounts of cigar smoke.
48. Jordan took up smoking in 1991. He used it to ease the stress of his long drives to the stadium before games. His coach didn’t mind the habit since it didn’t interfere with his performance for the team.
49. Jordan’s father, James Jordan, was shot to death by two teenage thieves while he slept in his car. They dumped his body in a swamp in South Carolina, where it was discovered in Bennettsville. They were caught, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. His father’s murder was responsible for Jordan’s decision to switch to baseball, as his father had encouraged him to do for several years before his death.
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Although he left the University of North Carolina after his junior year, Jordan did receive his degree (in 1986) in cultural geography. Cultural geography is an introduction to meteorology and his backup career in case basketball didn’t work out was to be as a weatherman.