For more than 50 years, the National Basketball Association (NBA) has seen the greatest players perform week in and week out.

From Kobe Bryant to Larry Bird and LeBron James to Magic Johnson, there is seemingly no end to the array of talent produced by the NBA.

Arguably the greatest of them all though is the most famous basketball player of all time, former Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards shooting guard, Michael 'Air' Jordan.

Jordan began his career in college with North Carolina from 1981-84 and even then his talent was undeniable.

He left North Carolina one year prior to his graduation in order to become eligible for the 1984 NBA draft. Jordan was selected as third overall pick by the Chicago Bulls.

During his first season with the Illinois based team, Jordan averaged more than 28 points per game and quickly became a fan favourite with both home and away fans.

In his first season, he was named the NBA rookie of the year in 1985.

The Bulls finished the campaign with 38 wins and 44 losses before being defeated by the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.

Jordan's second season in the NBA was cut short due to injury meaning he did not feature in more than 60 games.

The Bulls still managed to make the playoffs however. Jordan returned to face a Boston Celtics team which is often considered one of the greatest in NBA history and in game two, he scored a still unbroken record of 63 points in a playoff game. Despite this, Jordan and the Bulls were defeated by The Celtics.

Two years later in 1988, Jordan was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and the Most Valuable Player in the league.

He won his second MVP title in 1991, but more importantly he led the Chicago Bulls to his first NBA championship by defeating the New York Knicks, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Detroit Pistons and the Los Angeles Lakers in the final by four games to one, gathering a fantastic 15-2 win loss record in the playoffs that year. Jordan cried when he was presented with the NBA Finals trophy.

The Bulls retained the NBA championship in 1992 with a 62-17 record in the regular season.

Jordan was named the league's MVP for the second year running. In the summer of that same year, Jordan competed for the USA 1992 Olympic basketball team.

Later described as the 'Dream Team', Jordan took his place alongside the likes of Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Bulls teammate Scottie Pippen, Larry Bird and Earvin 'Magic' Johnson.

The line-up was later stated by journalists to be "one of the greatest sports teams ever assembled".

Team USA steamrolled each opponent en route to the final before winning the gold medal against Croatia, dispatching their opponents with a 117-85 scoreline.

In 1993, Jordan completed a three peat with the Chicago Bulls by leading his team their third consecutive NBA title, however there was a twist to the Bulls victory as Jordan announced his retirement from basketball in October of that year, stating a lack of desire to continuing playing the game which made him famous.

During his time away from the NBA, Jordan played minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons. 

His time in baseball was unsuccessful despite Jordan's father believing he would one day play in the MLB (Major League Baseball).

The Bulls struggled without Jordan, however the superstar announced he was returning to the Ilinois club in March 1995 and a year later led the side to the NBA title once again, alongside Dennis Rodman and Scottie Pippen as the Bulls finished the regular season with a a 72-10 win loss record, the highest win percentage in the history of the NBA in 1996. 

In November of that year, Jordan starred in the feature movie, Space Jam as himself which further elevated his already superstar status.

The Bulls retained the NBA title the following two seasons, equally the club's own record of winning the championship three years in a row. 

Jordan picked up the fifth and final MVP title of his career in 1998 but despite being in arguably the best form of his career, Jordan decided to shock the sporting world again by retiring from basketball for a second time in 1999.

Jordan expressed that after his second retirement he was '99.9%' he would never play another NBA game, however in the summer of 2001, he made his return to the court, this time with a new team, the Washington Wizards.

During his two year stint with the Wizards, the club became one of the most watched team in the NBA and in 2003, Jordan's final year as an active basketball player, he became the first 40 year old to score more than 40 points in a game.

The legendary star played the final match of his career in April, 2003 against the Philadelphia 76ers.

After the game, Jordan received a standing ovation lasting a full three minutes. He won applause from his opponents, his teammates, the officials and the crowd of over 20,000 fans.

Since retiring from basketball, Jordan has remained one of the biggest stars in North America. He has been a spokesman for major brands such as, Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Chevorlet.

In 1999, he was voted the greatest North American athlete of the 20th century by ESPN. Ten years later in 2009, Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

In 2010, Jordan became the majority owner of NBA team, the Charlotte Bobcats, becoming the first former player to own a league franchise.

A statue of Jordan's signature dunk pose is placed outside the United Center in Chicago, Illinois and his number 23 jersey has since been retired.

In his career Jordan won the NBA title six times, was named the NBA MVP five times, he was the leading point scorer in the NBA ten times and has continuously been named the greatest basketball player of all time by various media outlets including ESPN and SLAM magazine.

As Los Angeles Lakers legend Earvin 'Magic' Johnson correctly put it: "There's Michael Jordan and then there's the rest of us."   

 

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Topics:
NBA
NBA Playoffs
Michael Jordan
Washington Wizards
Chicago Bulls
NBA Finals