By Alex Raskin Sports News Editor for Dailymail.com 5:00 PM 17 Feb 2023, updated 5:03 PM 17 Feb 2023
The face of basketball is aging, albeit not as fast as the rest of us.
Michael Jordan, who is still one of the most recognizable celebrities in the world, turns 60 on Friday. He’s the owner of a struggling NBA franchise, the Charlotte Hornets, co-owner of NASCAR’s 23XI Racing, and frontrunner of his own hugely popular brand, Nike.
But it’s his legacy on the hardwood that has helped make him a billionaire and the benchmark by which all other basketball players are measured. A six-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls, a two-time gold medalist at the Olympics with Team USA, and an NCAA champion in North Carolina, Jordan was voted the most influential player of the game in a current-league poll, ahead of LeBron James and Kobe Bryant Stars.
And his influence now extends to philanthropy. In recent years, Jordan has built several health clinics in his native North Carolina, donated $100 million to racial equality and social justice efforts, and just this week he made a $10 million gift to the Make-A -Wish Foundation – the largest foundation in the organization’s history.
The remarried grandfather is running out of boxes to review his illustrious life, with two notable exceptions: his fractured relationship with longtime teammate Scottie Pippen and his ongoing struggles to field a competitive NBA team in Charlotte, neither of which will be an easy fix .
Michael Jordan, who is still among the world’s most recognizable celebrities, turned 60 as the owner of a struggling NBA franchise, the Charlotte Hornets, co-owner of NASCAR’s 23XI Racing and the poster child of his own hugely popular Nike brand (From left) Michael Jordan, his then-girlfriend Yvett Prieto, Larsa Pippen and her then-husband Scottie Pippen attend the surprise birthday celebration for Scottie Pippen at the Sunda September 24, 2012 in Chicago. Marcus Jordan and Larsa Pippen are seen in Los Angeles on February 13, 2023
Pippen’s troubles began with ESPN’s “Last Dance” docuseries, which aired in 2020 to great acclaim.
The problem, from Pippen’s point of view, is that Jordan seemed to have been credited with the Bulls’ success in the 1990s, while his teammates were viewed as insignificant players.
“They glorified Michael Jordan while not praising me and my proud teammates nearly enough,” Pippen wrote, 57, in his memoir Unguarded, which was released in 2021. “Michael deserved a lot of the blame. The producers had given him editorial control of the final product. Otherwise the document could not have been published. He was the lead actor and the director.’
Another complication is the romantic relationship between Pippen’s ex-wife, 48-year-old Larsa, and Jordan’s 32-year-old son, Marcus.
Pippen and Larsa were married for nearly 20 years and had four children together before divorcing in 2021.
Last week, Larsa took to Instagram to refer to Marcus as her “eternal Valentine’s Day.”
As with Jordan’s feud with rival Isiah Thomas during their playing days or his recent fling with longtime friend Charles Barkley, the Hall of Famer has avoided speaking publicly on the matter.
Jordan and Pippen were only spotted smiling and hugging at a game in 2016, but it’s unclear if they’ll rekindle a partnership that led to six NBA titles in Chicago.
Jordan of the Chicago Bulls celebrates after Game 6 of the 1992 NBA Finals Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan looks on during a Charlotte Hornets game Charlotte could have a 14 percent chance of winning the NBA Draft Lottery May 16 for the rights up for grabs to draft Victor Wembanyama in June
As a Charlotte owner, Jordan struggled to find executives, coaches and players who would complement him, as Pippen once did in Chicago.
After a frustrating stint as the Washington Wizards’ director of basketball operations and a brief, unforgettable comeback with the team, Jordan bought a minority interest in the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006. By 2010, he would buy the majority stake from media mogul Bob Johnson. and in 2015 he would rename the team the “Hornets,” after the previous NBA franchise that Charlotte was home to.
But aside from the name change, Jordan’s tenure as owner of the Hornets has been far from memorable.
Charlotte has won just three seasons and only two playoff spots since Jordan became majority owner. And while the team has a promising young talent in LaMelo Ball, injuries have already ruined the current season for the Hornets, who go into the All-Star break only 17-43.
If there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, it’s French teenager Victor Wembanyama, a basketball prodigy who happens to be between 7ft 2 and 7ft 5 depending on who you ask.
Given the Hornets’ status as one of the worst teams in the NBA this season, Charlotte could have a 14 percent chance of winning the May 16 NBA draft lottery for the right to draft Wembanyama in June.
The Frenchman with 3-point shooting and blocking shots is widely regarded as the biggest NBA prospect since Kevin Durant, but the odds against Charlotte are still good.
And even with Wembanyama, Jordan has yet to deal with the future of coach Steve Clifford, who is in his second stint with the team, President Mitch Kupchak, as well as that of soon-to-be free agent Kelly Oubre Jr.
These fights represent a dramatic departure for someone who made the business of basketball look so remarkably easy as a player.
Born in Brooklyn in 1963, Jordan soon moved his family to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he grew up with three siblings and parents Deloris and James.
An unheralded high school player through his junior season in high school, Jordan eventually drew the attention of top collegiate coaches like Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, but decided to attend UNC-Chapel Hill in 1981 .
There, young Mike became Michael.
Michael Jordan pictured with father James (near left), mother Deloris (near right) and three of his four siblings including brothers Larry and James Jr. He has two sisters, Deloris and Roslyn Michael Jordan of North Carolina scores the winning goal 1982 NCAA Finals vs. Georgetown Deloris Jordan is now a widow, 78 years old and still lives in North Carolina. She and son Michael are pictured here in 1988
As basketball fans know, Jordan wasn’t the biggest name on the 1981-82 Tar Heels – an accolade that likely belonged to forwards James Worthy or Sam Perkins.
But in the 1982 title game against Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown Hoyas, it was Jordan who hit the go-ahead basketball with 15 seconds left and became an instant national celebrity.
“Well, up until that point, no one knew who I was,” Jordan told Good Morning America in 2020. “Out of college I was just known as Mike Jordan you know and when I hit that shot my full name became Michael Jordan and I think it resonated with a lot of people outside of UNC and I just started accumulating that name… from the successes I’ve had throughout the rest of my career. It wasn’t about Mike. Back then it was more about Michael.’
When the Hoyas gained possession after Jordan’s go-ahead jump, Georgetown guard Fred Brown mistook Worthy for a teammate, passed the ball to him and Jordan claimed his first major title.
Two years later, at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, he won the first of two Olympic gold medals.
Always the star under coach Dean Smith in North Carolina, Jordan’s destiny as one of the greatest players of all time was predicted by Olympic coach Bobby Knight.
“In the categories of competitiveness, skill, skill and then athletic ability, he’s the best athlete, he’s one of the best competitors, he’s one of the most experienced players,” Knight, the legendary Indiana Hoosiers coach, told reporters. “And that, to me, makes him the best basketball player I’ve ever seen play.”
Jordan has yet to play in an NBA game.
In June of that year, the 6-foot-6 Jordan was drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA draft.
Though few can criticize the Houston Rockets for picking future Hall of Famer Hakeem (then “Akeem”) Olajuwon as the overall winner, the Portland Trail Blazers’ second pick Sam Bowie was the one of the most notorious decisions in the NBA remains history.
With Olajuwon’s former University of Houston teammate Clyde Drexler already in Portland, the Blazers wanted more size and decided to pass on Jordan, who would defeat them in the 1992 NBA Finals.
Then-Bulls GM Rod Thorn was only too happy to take on Jordan, who quickly emerged as the biggest star of that year’s draft class.
Over the next decade, Jordan would become sport’s biggest star, earn MVP honors, become the face of Nike, and win three straight NBA titles and another Olympic gold as part of the famous “Dream Team.”
Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf (left) and general manager Jerry Krause (right) in 1997 Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen share a laugh alongside Larry Bird (back left) and Chris Mullin on the famous Dream Team But for all of his success at his first After a decade in the NBA, Jordan’s happy life came to an abrupt end in 1993 when his father James (left) was found at a highway rest stop by two teenage car thieves. before his first spring practice with the Chicago White Sox
His win-at-all-costs mentality crystallized in an anecdote he and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf shared from his sophomore NBA season, when a 22-year-old Jordan was desperate to return despite team doctors despite a broken foot.
“Michael asked, ‘Well, if I play, what percentage will I get injured again?'” Reinsdorf recalled on ESPN’s The Last Dance. “The doctor said 10 percent.”
ESPN’s documentary then cuts back to Jordan.
“And I just lost it,” Jordan replied. ‘I said, ‘Look, there’s a 10 percent chance, but there’s a 90 percent chance I won’t.”’
Reinsdorf’s Bulls were a burgeoning young team in 1985-86, but while they were improving after years of struggling, Chicago still looked up the standings at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Detroit Pistons and eventual NBA champion Boston Celtics .
With a star of Jordan’s caliber, Reinsdorf did not want to risk long-term success on a team that was unlikely to win a title in 1986.
“I spoke to the doctor,” said Reinsdorf. “What happens when the 10 percent kicks in?” And they said, “Well, then his career would be over.”
Jordan didn’t take that as an answer.
“Everyone just thinks about the negative, while I think the glass is half full, everyone thinks it’s half empty,” Jordan said.
The camera cuts back to Reinsdorf at this point.
“I said to Michael, ‘You don’t understand the risk/reward tradeoff,'” Reinsdorf continued. “If you had a terrible headache and I gave you a bottle of pills and nine of the pills would cure you and one of the pills would kill you, would you take a pill?”
Jordan was unmoved.
“I looked at him and said, ‘Depends on how bad the headache is,'” Jordan shot back.
Jordan eventually returned that season, famously scoring 63 points in an overtime double loss in Game 2 of Chicago’s first-round series against Boston.
Afterwards, Celtics star Larry Bird told the Boston Globe that the young phenomenon was really “God disguised as Michael Jordan.”
NBA legends Michael Jordan and Dominique Wilkins speak before becoming judges in the Sprite Slam Dunk contest at NBA All-Star Weekend February 17, 2007 in Las Vegas. LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers and NBA legend Jordan are seen before the Sprite Slam Dunk competition at NBA All-Star Weekend February 17, 2007 in Vegas A scary sight for NBA teams in the late 1990’s: (Left to right) Dennis Rodman, Scottie Pippen, Michael Jordan, Ron Harper and Toni Kukoc, sixth place NBA Man of the Year 1996 Jordan (L) and Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson (R) Most Valuable Player Trophy (L) and Larry O’ Brian Trophy (R) June 14 after winning game six of the NBA Finals with the Utah Jazz Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis, left, and Washington Wizards owner Abe Pollin welcome Michael Jordan as an investor and partner in Lincoln Holding and nominate Jordan as President of Basketball Operations for the Washington Wizards Kuban-A in 2000. He proposed American model Yvette Prieto, whom he married in 2013
But for all his accomplishments in his first decade in the NBA, Jordan’s happy life came to an abrupt end in 1993 when his father, James, was murdered at a highway rest stop by two teenage car thieves.
Following the revelation that Jordan had lost millions playing golf, many suspected his father’s murder was somehow related, but nothing was ever proven and James’ killers pleaded guilty in a deal with prosecutors.
Jordan would retire from basketball, instead opting to play minor league baseball with the Chicago White Sox’s Double-A affiliate in Birmingham. Baseball, Jordan’s first love, had once been part of the strong bond between him and his father, and he spent the 1994 season developing into a competent fielder and improving hitter.
But Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995, finishing the season with the Bulls before losing to the Orlando Magic in the playoffs.
For many NBA fans, this would be the last time Jordan would actually be defeated.
With the additions of Dennis Rodman and Toni Kukoc, the Jordan-led Bulls became one of the greatest teams in NBA history, winning a then-record 72 games in 1995-96 and clinching three straight championships before retiring for a second season in 1998 .
Jordan is pictured on his 30th birthday as he takes a jump shot at Indiana Pacers center Rik Smits
As he has explained, before the 1998 season, Jordan knew it would be his last because management pushed out his coach and mentor, Phil Jackson, whom he didn’t want to be without. (Jordan eventually came out of retirement for a second time to reunite with his first NBA coach Doug Collins at the Washington Wizards)
“It basically started when [Bulls general manager] Jerry Krause told Phil he could go 82-0 and would never get a chance to come back,” Jordan said, referring to the friction between the Bulls coaches and the front office.
“I married myself [Phil] obviously, and if he didn’t become a coach then of course I wouldn’t play. So Phil started the year saying this was the last dance and that’s how we played it.’
Privately, Jordan remains close to his three children from his first marriage to Juanita, from whom he divorced in 2006, resulting in a record $168 million settlement.
In 2011, he proposed to Cuban-American model Yvette Prieto, whom he married in 2013.
More recently, Jordan became a grandfather after his daughter Jasmine gave birth to a son, Rakeem, who is the son of former Syracuse center Rakeem Christmas.
“It’s actually fun because I can actually hold him and play with him and I enjoy watching him,” Jordan told NBC in 2019.
As well as spoiling his own grandson, Jordan donates to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to which he recently donated $10 million as part of his 60th birthday celebrations.
“For the past 34 years it has been an honor to work with Make-A-Wish and help bring smiles and happiness to so many children,” Jordan said in a press release. “To see her strength and resilience at such a difficult time in her life was truly an inspiration.
“I can’t think of a better birthday present than to see others join me in supporting Make-A-Wish so that every child can experience the magic when their wish comes true.”
Although the “Baby Jordan” moniker previously belonged to former Miami Heat guard Harold Miner, it can now be used to describe his first grandchild, daughter Jasmine’s son Rakeem