Game-changing hoops icon Jordan turns 50 on Sunday

Michael Jordan, the basketball superstar who won six NBA crowns and boosted the sport's worldwide appeal, celebrates his 50th birthday on Sunday with a powerful legacy 10 years after his final game.

Jordan, cut from his high school team as a sophomore, used that slight and every other he faced as inspiration to ignite a career like no other, becoming in the eyes of many the greatest player to ever dribble a basketball.

"It's simple," Miami Heat star guard Dwyane Wade said. "There will never be another Michael Jordan. He was the first to do a lot of things. Whenever you are the first, there can never be another."

Jordan turned high-leaping slam dunks, clutch game-winning baskets and defensive determination into performance art for the Chicago Bulls, leading them to NBA titles from 1991-1993 and 1996-1998 with a retirement in between.

When US college stars proved unable to win Olympic gold in 1988 at Seoul, Jordan led a "Dream Team" all-star squad of NBA icons to Barcelona in 1992 and launched a new era for the sport with a dominant effort and rock-star treatment by fans.

"Air Jordan" sneakers remain among the best sellers today, Jordan's impact on sports marketing thanks to Nike and others being as groundbreaking as his efforts on the court.

The memory of Jordan's feats is so great and recent that 28-year-old LeBron James, the NBA's current top playmaker whose acrobatic leaps and spectacular moves draw comparisons to Jordan, has become weary of the linkage.

"Happy birthday to him. I wish him the best," James said. "No comparison. People always want to find ways to compare someone to someone. But Mike is Mike and I'm LeBron and I'm trying to make my own name, make my own statement."

Asked whether he would pick Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant or James as more successful at this point, Jordan told NBA TV he would pick Bryant.

"Five beats one every time I look at it," Jordan said, referring to Bryant's five NBA championships to only one for James.

More than 22 million people have "liked" Jordan's Facebook page and more than 1,700 have left him "Happy Birthday" messages -- technology that did not even exist when Jordan was in his prime 20 years ago.

Sports Illustrated features Jordan on its cover this week, the 50th time Jordan has been so honored.

Jordan was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player every year his team won a title and won the regular season version of the award five times. Jordan also won 10 NBA scoring crowns, from 1987-1993 and 1996-1998.

After a stellar college career at North Carolina, Jordan became the 1985 NBA Rookie of the Year and became a legend with the Bulls.

But in July 1993, tragedy struck Jordan when his father, James Jordan, was killed at a highway rest area. Three months later, Jordan shocked the sports world by retiring from the NBA at his prime.

Jordan began playing baseball, the American pastime, chasing a dream that his late father had for his son to play in the Major Leagues. Jordan signed with the Chicago White Sox and played with a minor-league team two levels below the elite leagues.

In 1994, the Bulls retired Jordan's jersey number 23, and erected a statue of Jordan outside the team's home arena that remains a popular tourist destination.

In March 1995, however, Jordan dropped his baseball dream with a simple two-word statement -- "I'm back" -- and scored 19 points in his return with the Bulls at Indiana. He wore jersey number 45, what had been his baseball number.

The Bulls lost in the second round of the playoffs, helping prompt Jordan to reclaim his former number, 23, and in the next three full seasons, Jordan used his savvy and leadership to replace what time had taken from his body to lift the Bulls back into championship form until retiring again in 1999.

But his second retirement did not last either. Jordan returned in 2001 to play for the NBA's Washington Wizards for two seasons but parted ways with the team after not being allowed to return to his prior post as director of basketball operations.

In 2010, Jordan returned to the NBA as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, but he has been unable to work the same magic with them as he did on the court with the Bulls.

In a lockout-shortened 2011-2012 NBA season, the Bobcats were a woeful 7-59, the worst record in NBA history.

"I'm not real happy about the record book scenario last year. It's very frustrating," Jordan said.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino
    Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino

    Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the South China Sea despite Chinese warnings over the airspace, President Benigno Aquino said on Monday. "We will still fly the routes that we fly based on the international law from the various conventions we entered into," Aquino told reporters when asked whether the Philippines accepted China's position. The Chinese military last week ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane away from airspace …

  • ‘Kentex owners still in Phl’
    ‘Kentex owners still in Phl’

    The daughter of one of the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. owners has assured the government that the businessmen are still in the Philippines, contrary to some reports that they have fled the country. Barbara Ang, daughter of Kentex shareholder Veato Ang, said her father and his business partners have no plans of leaving the country despite the razing of the Valenzuela slipper factory, which killed 72 workers on May 13. Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian also stood by his promise to punish any local …

  • Gasoline prices up, diesel down
    Gasoline prices up, diesel down

    Oil companies announced yesterday a price hike of 50 centavos per liter for gasoline and a rollback of 50 centavos per liter for diesel effective at 6 a.m. today. Independent oil firms were among the first to announce the price adjustment. In an advisory, PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil firm said it cut diesel prices by 50 centavos per liter and increased gasoline prices by 50 centavos per liter. …

  • Lawmakers to review building code provisions
    Lawmakers to review building code provisions

    Lawmakers are set to review provisions of the National Building Code and Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, to strengthen contingencies and policies to prepare the country for possible major earthquakes. The move came following proposals from Reps. Winston Castelo of Quezon City and Lito Atienza of the Buhay party-list to review the two laws and other regulations during a hearing of the House committee on Metro Manila development on the …

  • Noy: Phl may attain first world status with continued reforms
    Noy: Phl may attain first world status with continued reforms

    The Philippines’ attaining first world status may soon be imminent if significant reforms initiated by the current administration would be consistently pursued, President Aquino suggested yesterday. “Kung madidiligan ang ating mga pinunla, at makaka-graduate ang mga pinag-aaral natin upang makapasok sa maaayos na trabaho, baka po tuluyan nang nasa first world status tayo sa panahong iyon (If we water the seeds sown and those we sent to school will find better jobs, then time will come that …

  • Phl won’t recognize China air restrictions
    Phl won’t recognize China air restrictions

    The Philippines will not recognize restrictions on air and sea travel set by China in the West Philippine Sea, President Aquino said yesterday. “We will still fly the routes that we fly based on international law and the various conventions, agreements that have been entered into through various decades,” Aquino told reporters in an ambush interview after inspecting the Marikina Elementary School in preparation for the opening of classes in June. “Maybe we should not think about getting …

  • Rainy season likely in 2nd week of June
    Rainy season likely in 2nd week of June

    Filipinos may have to wait until the second or third week of June for rain, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday. Rene Paciente, chief of PAGASA’s marine meteorological services section, said they expect the rainy season to start in the second or third week of June. The criteria for declaring the onset of the rainy season include the prevalence of the southwest monsoon and the 25-millimeter rainfall recorded in at least five …

  • UN urged to probe torture cases under Noy’s term
    UN urged to probe torture cases under Noy’s term

    The United Nations has been asked to look into   110 cases of torture and numerous cases of illegal arrests during the Aquino administration. Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, yesterday said the matter could be looked into when the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) visits from May 25 to June 3 to monitor the  implementation of the Optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OpCAT), which the Philippines ratified in 2012. “We enjoin the UN SPT to …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options