Michael Jordan, at the end of his career, was widely recognized as the greatest player in NBA history. His CV speaks for itself. But it’s not just what Jordan achieved, it’s the way he achieved it that has so many people willing to crown him the best for doing it.
But Jordan was not expected to be a massive superstar. He was part of the legendary 1984 draft class, which included Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. And while he had a solid resume while at the University of North Carolina, attention was drawn to Hakeem.
Jordan even missed his 1984 draft night as part of the trials for Team USA’s 1984 Olympic team. Jordan was therefore initially focused on his stint with the US team at Los Angeles games before joining the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan was a star in the making. And those around him had great confidence in him. He was a rare exception when it came to rookies, as he secured his own shoe deal with Nike upon entering the league. At the time, Nike was a running and track shoe company trying to venture into the NBA.
Yesterday, October 26, marked the 37th anniversary of Jordan signing his first Nike contract, valued at $ 500,000 over 5 years. This was a surprise, as rookies rarely got offers of this amount at the time.
And it is also the same day that MJ first entered NBA field, making his debut against the Chicago Bulls. He finished the game with 16 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks and 2 steals.
Jordan’s contract with Nike, while lucrative, had many difficult terms. He had to win Rookie of the Year, or be an All-Star, or be able to sell $ 4 million worth of shoes in his first three seasons. MJ exceeded expectations, accomplishing it all in his first season.
In fact, Jordan’s shoe from his first game was recently auctioned off for $ 1.5 million.
MJ had an incredible first season in the NBA, being named All-Star, All-NBA 2nd Team and becoming Rookie Of The Year. The only player who can compare to Jordan’s rookie year is LeBron James, who accomplished the same and recorded a similar number while being 2 years younger than Jordan when he made his debut.
Jordan was going to have an incredible career playing against some of the best players in history. After his first playoff meeting with Larry Bird, Bird said God played through Michael Jordan as he dropped 63 points to the legendary Celtics team.
Jordan stayed with a team for the entirety of his early years. He played for the Chicago Bulls between 1984 and 1998, with a 2-year gap between 1993 and 1995 which was his first retirement and a brief stint in baseball.
During his career, Jordan won 6 NBA Championships, 6 Finals MVPs, 5 Regular Season MVPs and a Defensive Player of the Year trophy. His accolades are matched by few in league history, and only 2 players – Kobe Bryant and LeBron James – nearly matched the aura and star power he had in the league.