CHICAGO (WGN) – It was 60 years ago Friday that one of the most transformative athletes in the history of professional sports was born, and there are many in Chicago who are celebrating it.
Michael Jordan’s birthday is another chance for fans around the globe to reflect on the achievements of the Bulls’ Hall of Famer and a reminder that his legacy remains strong nearly 20 years after he left the basketball court.
As Jordan celebrates his 60th birthday, many are remembering his lengthy list of accomplishments on the basketball floor, many of which came in Chicago.
That includes six NBA Championships, six NBA Finals MVPs, five regular season MVPs, 14 All-Star selections, ten All-NBA first team selections, and the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history just to name a few.
His number 23 was retired by the Bulls and even the Miami Heat, which as done as a show of respect by that franchise’s team president Pat Riley in 2003. Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009 and is considered by many to be the greatest basketball player of all time.
Along with his play, Jordan has been admired for the way in which he has built his personal brand on the business side. From Nike to Gatorade, the legend has created an over billion dollar empire from his playing days through his time now as owner of the Charlotte Hornets.
Born on February 17, 1963 at Cumberland Hospital in Brooklyn, New York to James and Delores Jordan, he made a name for himself at Laney High School in Wilmington, North Carolina before becoming a star at the collegiate level in nearby Chapel Hill.
After three seasons at the University of North Carolina where he was named a consensus All-American twice and National Player of the Year as a junior, he declared for the NBA Draft after the 1983-1984 season.
Jordan captured a national championship with the Tar Heels in 1982 and helped the United States national team to a gold medal in the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
A struggling Bulls’ team selected Jordan with the third overall pick, and a new era for a franchise and the city itself was underway.
Jordan’s impact was immediate on the Bulls as he was named the NBA’s Rookie of the Year in the 1984-1985 season in helping the teams to the playoffs. Despite a foot injury that cost him most of the next season, he delivered one of the greatest playoff performances in NBA history on April 21, 1986.
At the Boston Garden against the eventual champion Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Jordan scored a playoff-record 63 points in a performance that mezmerized fans that watched across the country on national television.
As the Bulls continued to improve as a team, Jordan continued to develop into one of the game’s greatest players. He took a few major steps during the 1987-1988 season when he was named the NBA’s MVP and Defensive Player of the Year and helped the Bulls to their first playoff series win of his tenure.
During NBA All-Star Weekend at Chicago Stadium in February 1988, Jordan dazzled fans with a memorable Slam Dunk Contest win over Hawks’ star Dominique Wilkins that still remains one of the greatest in the history of the competion.
The next day, on February 7, 1988, he was named the All-Star Game MVP as he scored 40 points in an Eastern Conference victory.
After years of being stopped in the playoffs by the Pistons, Jordan helped the Bulls begin a dynasty in the early 1990s. Finally defeating Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1991, the team bested the Lakers in the NBA Finals in five games to win the franchise’s first NBA title.
Jordan would lead the Bulls to championships in 1992 as the Bulls captured their first home title-clinching win in Game 6 of the Finals against the Blazers at Chicago Stadium. The next year, the Bulls took down the Suns in six games to complete the “Three-Peat” as the guard averaged 41 points per game in that finals.
During that first “Three Peat,” Jordan won the NBA MVP in 1991 and 1992.
On October 6, 1993, Jordan stunned the sports world when he announced his retirement from professional basketball, which came a few months after his father’s murder.
He wouldn’t stay away from professional sports for long as he would join the White Sox organization in the winter of 1994 in his attempt to play baseball. He would play for the Double-A Birmingham Barons during that spring and summer.
Eventually the desire to play baseball returned, and on March 19, 1995 Jordan made his return to the Bulls against the Pacers at Market Square Arena in Indianapolis.
At first he wore the number 45, but during the second round of the playoffs against the Magic he returned to No. 23. Unfortunately for the Bulls, Jordan’s return wasn’t enough as Orlando eliminated the Bulls in that Eastern Conference semifinals series in six games.
The next season Jordan helped start another incredible run for the Bulls as he returned to full form around a stronger team in 1995-1996. That group set a new NBA regular season wins record with 72, which stood until 2016, and won the franchise’s fourth championship, with the guard winning his fourth MVP award.
While he didn’t get that honor the next season, the Bulls were once again the class of the NBA as they won 69 regular season games and captured a fifth NBA championship, defeating the Jazz in six games in the NBA Finals.
The “Last Dance” for Jordan with the Bulls came in the 1997-1998 campaign, when he once again won the regular season MVP award in helping to carry the Bulls to 62 regular season victories.
On June 14, 1998, Jordan finished his career in Chicago in fitting fashion, hitting a game-winning shot in the closing seconds of Game 6 at the Delta Center to give the Bulls a sixth NBA championship and a second “Three Peat.”
It would be the final game that Jordan would play in Chicago as he announced his second retirement in January 1999.
Jordan would once again decide to return to basketball in 2001, joining the Washington Wizards, where he had been serving as president of basketball operations.
For the first time in his career, he faced the Bulls in Chicago on January 19, 2002 at the United Center as fans showered him with cheers throughout the contest. Named an All-Star in 2002 and 2003, Jordan stepped away from the game for good after two seasons in Washington.
Six years after his retirement, Jordan was officially enshired in the Basketball Hall of Fame on September 11, 2009, delivering a tearful speech to those in the crowd and who watched on television.
Since his playing days, Jordan has mainly spent it in Charlotte as first a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats/Hornets before taking a controlling interest in the team in 2010.