Michael Jordan changed the face of basketball, and sports, with his superior athletic ability and knack for marketing and endorsements. His contributions on and off the court helped catapult the popularity of basketball to a new level -- one that now garners the attention of the world. Jordan and his trademark aerobatics are today an American icon, and have made him one of the greatest athletes of all time.
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Michael Jeffery Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York on Feb. 17, 1963. He attended high school in Wilmington, North Carolina, and subsequently attended the University of North Carolina, where he helped the Tar Heels win the 1982 NCAA Championship game against Georgetown 63-62 with a 16-foot jump shot. He was awarded The Sporting News' College Player of the Year award as a sophomore and junior. He was also the recipient of the Naismith and Wooden Awards his junior year.
Jordan left college his junior year after being drafted by the NBA's Chicago Bulls as the third overall pick in 1984. Upon returning from his gold-medal performance at the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, Jordan quickly made his presence known on the professional level, winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Jordan went on to lead the Bulls to six NBA championships -- 1991-93 and 1996-98 -- and was named the league's most valuable player five times, in 1988, '91, '92, '96 and '98. He was also voted on to the NBA All-Star team 14 times. Jordan would return to the Olympic Games in 1992, where he again won the gold medal.
Jordan was regarded as one of the best one-on-one defenders to ever play the game, and was a threat from practically anywhere on the court. He was particularly known for his ability to hit medium-range shots, which greatly contributed to his all-time leading 30.1 points per game average. He finished with 32,292 career points. Perhaps the one trademark that catapulted Jordan to legend status were his aerobatic slam dunks that drew awe from fans and admiration from other players. His athletic ability earned him the nickname "Air Jordan." The image of Jordan flying through the air with tongue sticking out has become an iconic symbol for basketball and an important marketing tool for Nike, whom Jordan has had a partnership with for many years.
Globalization of Basketball
Jordan's accomplishments on the court and his affable personal style made him the ideal poster child, not only for the NBA, but for basketball all around the world. His presence greatly impacted attendance at games, no matter if they were in Chicago -- attendance at Chicago Stadium rose 87 percent in 1984-85 -- or on the road, and sparked a global interest in the game. Jordan had a special clause in his contract, known as the "love-of-the-game" clause, which allowed him to play basketball in the off-season to help promote the sport.