By Charles Glover, Jr.
As Michael Jordan turns 51 today, February 18, numerous descriptions come to mind to define the man largely regarded as the greatest basketball player of all time. While that title may be up for debate, there is no debating that when people think of Jordan, they think success. Jordan retired as a player (for the last time) after the 2003 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, but his legacy as a player continuous to loom as the definition of the best of the NBA.
As a player, Jordan was known as a fierce competitor with an almost unparalleled drive to win. Jordan was able to help lead the Chicago Bulls to accomplishments not seen in the NBA in decades. The Bulls won three consecutive championships at two different times in the 90’s, a feat that had not been achieved since the 1960’s in the NBA. Additionally, the Bulls won a record 72 games in the 82-game regular season, which still stands as the all-time best mark in the league. While being led by legendary coach Phil Jackson, Jordan along with All-Star teammates like Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, and Dennis Rodman turned the Bulls into a dynasty that helped the NBA achieve its greatest popularity to date. Jackson would write in his book Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success, “Michael was masterful at controlling the emotional climate of the team with the power of his presence.”
As great as Jordan’s impact has been in the NBA, his advances in marketing and endorsements are also trendsetting. Many commercials featuring him continue to be memorable. He was the face for Gatorade, McDonald’s, Hanes, and Nike, among others, for a very long time. The Jordan brand is the most successful clothing brand associated with athletes. Forbes still describes the Jordan brand as a “marketing juggernaut…that controlled 58% of the U.S. basketball shoe market as of 2012.” Jordan’s sneakers have become so sought after that people have been trampled in different malls and stores upon the release of new,or reissued versions of his sneakers. Jordan’s clothing and accessories also continue to be hot commodities, decades after they debuted on the market in 1985. His Jump-man logo can be seen on everything from book bags and jackets to socks and hats. It is possible to have a casual wardrobe of Jordan gear, while wearing the latest and most trendy styles.
When Jordan retired from the Bulls after the 1998 basketball season, he became a minority owner and President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards in 2000. His was the final voice for all personnel decisions during that period. Jordan’s tenure in this role is remembered by many with his selection of Kwame Brown with the first pick of the 2001 NBA draft. Brown’s unsuccessful career aside, Jordan was able to make some very positive moves for the franchise that enabled the team to shed several large salaries and eventually sign key free agents that revitalized the Wizards. However, nothing invigorated the Wizards more than Jordan’s last return to the NBA in the 2001-02 season. The two seasons Jordan played in Washington D.C. gave the NBA fans who knew him from the 80’s and 90’s a chance to see him face the stars of the new millennium.
When Jordan retired after the 2003 season, he expected to be able to return to his role as part owner of the Wizards. Jordan had to sell his stake as part owner in order to return as a player but was not welcomed back by the Wizards’ majority ownership. While Jordan expressed his disappointment, he remained vigilant and determined in his desire to return to the NBA front office. In 2006, Jordan would get a second chance at NBA ownership while being hired by BET founder Robert L. Johnson as minority owner and president of basketball operations for the Charlotte Bobcats. Johnson had become the first African-American majority owner in U.S. major sports history when he won the bid for the team at the end of 2002. However, by 2010, Johnson was unable to have the success he expected and looked to sell the team.Jordan was able to lead an ownership group that would purchase the Bobcats from Johnson, making Jordan the first former NBA player to become a majority owner.
Jordan and Earvin “Magic” Johnson have been linked in NBA annals as they competed against each other for championships as well as played alongside each other for Team USA in Olympic competition. Both have shared a mutual admiration and respect for each other’s accomplishments. In 2012 Johnson remarked on Twitter, “Michael is the greatest ever…period.” In 2013, Jordan told the makers of the NBA2K14 video game that he would select Johnson to be one of his four teammates in dream scenario. The two also stand out for their success in business after retiring from playing. Johnson was a minority owner for the Los Angeles Lakers and is now majority owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers in Major League Baseball (MLB) and Los Angeles Sparks in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA). Jordan and Johnson continue to show that their drive for excellence extends far beyond the realm of playing basketball.
Jordan has transitioned from a fierce competitor on the basketball court to a driven leader in business. He is still famous for his competitiveness on golf courses and at his basketball camps but he is also working towards achieving more success as an NBA executive. The Bobcats reached the playoffs shortly after Jordan became majority owner in 2010. The team has struggled since that season but is currently in position to make the playoffs this season as they sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The franchise also announced that next season they will be renamed the Charlotte Hornets to start the 2014-15 season, to the excitement of the Charlotte fan base.
Jordan continues to have noticeable changes in his personal life as well. In 2006 he divorced Juanita Vanoy, his wife of 17 years and mother of his children Jeffrey, Marcus and Jasmine. In 2013, Jordan married long-time girlfriend Yvette Prieto. On February 11, 2014, Yvette gave birth to identical twin daughters, Victoria and Ysabel. Happy Birthday MJ and thank you for your impressive contributions to worlds of sports and business..—OnPointPress.net–
Charles Glover, Jr. is a sports aficionado and a management training consultant. Follow me @OpenWindowMES on Twitter.com.