54 things you should know about Michael Jordan on his 54th birthday

The Greatest of All-Time turns 54 years old on Friday.

Here’s 54 things you should already know about Michael Jordan, the iconic Chicago Bulls superstar.

(Also, never rule out a comeback.)

1. You’ve heard this one, but make sure you get it right: The famous “Michael Jordan got cut” story from his Laney High School days just meant he was cut from the varsity team as a sophomore (where he dominated). He ended up playing junior varsity and then two years on varsity after that.

2. In probably his best comeback ever, he led the Tune Squad over the Monstars to save the world.

3. He is fourth all-time in total NBA points scored with 32,292, trailing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone and Kobe Bryant.

4. His first national moment was hitting the game-winning jump shot with 16 seconds left, lifting North Carolina over Georgetown 63-62 to win the 1982 NCAA Championship in New Orleans. The cross-court pass came from Jimmy Black.

5. He skipped a 1991 visit to the White House to see George H.W. Bush after the Bulls won the title, citing time with his family.

6. He famously grew up in Wilmington, N.C., but actually was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.

7. In addition to No. 45 in his first comeback to basketball, Jordan wore No. 12 in one game at Orlando on Valentine’s Day in 1990. His No. 23 jersey reportedly went missing.

8. Growing up, he was a North Carolina State fan, emulating David Thompson.

9. In his second comeback to basketball, Jordan led the Washington Wizards in scoring in 2001-02 with 22.9 points per game. He was second on the team in scoring (behind Jerry Stackhouse) in 2002-03 with 20.0. 

10. He broke his foot in the third game of his second season in the NBA, missing 64 games. It was the only major injury of his career.

11. Before later winning back-to-back slam dunk titles, he was beaten by Dominique Wilkins in the finals of the 1985 contest.

12. He was the second-leading scorer on the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics, scoring 14.9 points per game. Charles Barkley led the gold medal winning team with 18.0 points per game.

13. He has won six NBA championship rings, which is tied for 10th all-time. Bill Russell of the Boston Celtics won 11.

14. He has the most points in NBA playoff history with 5,987. Second is Abdul-Jabbar with 5,762.

15. He was voted to start in the 1985 All-Star game as a rookie, but was only 2 of 9 from the field for seven points. Rumors have persisted over the years that Detroit’s Isiah Thomas led an effort to “freeze out” the rookie.

16. In his famous 63-point game against Boston in the 1986 playoffs, all but three of his 41 field-goal attempts were contested by a defender. The Bulls lost the game 135-131 in double-overtime on the way to a 3-0 series sweep loss.

17. His father, James Jordan Sr., was killed in 1993 on the way home to Charlotte from a funeral. Daniel Andre Green and Larry Martin Demery were convicted of the killing.

18. He competed in the All-Star Three-Point Shootout in 1990, taking last place with 5 points. Just above him, Mark Price was seventh with 11.

19. He helped the United States to a gold medal at the 1983 Pan American Games in Caracas, Venezuela.

20. As a kid, he hung from a chin-up bar in an attempt to get taller, after seeing the stunt on “The Brady Bunch.”

21. His major at North Carolina was cultural geography.

22. One of the nine players with more NBA championships than him is Robert Horry, who has seven to MJ’s six.

23. He leads the NBA in career scoring average, nudging second place Wilt Chamberlain, 30.12 to 30.06.

24. He played in the 1981 McDonald’s All-American All-Star Game for East, which won 96-85 in Wichita, Kan. The East MVP was Adrian Branch, who went to Maryland and later drafted by the Bulls.

25. His game-winning shot against Georgetown could have been topped but Fred Brown threw the ball away on the Hoyas final possession to UNC’s James Worthy, thinking he was a Georgetown teammate.

26. His Bulls lost a playoff series to the “Bad Boys” Detroit Pistons in three straight seasons: In the second round in 1987-88 and then in the Eastern Conference finals in 88-89 and 89-90.

27. With his first wife, Juanita, he has two sons, Jeffrey and Marcus, and a daughter, Jasmine.

28. With Bobby Knight as coach, he led the 1984 Team USA basketball team to a gold medal, averaging 17.1 points per game to lead the team. USA topped Spain 96-65 to win gold.

29. He averaged a career-high 37.1 points per game in 1986-87, but Magic Johnson won the MVP award that season.

30. With his current (and second) wife Yvette, he has twin daughters, Victoria and Ysabel.

31. He played all 82 games in nine of his 15 NBA seasons.

32. He won five NBA MVP awards, which is tied with Bill Russell for second all-time. Abdul-Jabbar leads the list with six.

33. His freshman year was his only Final Four appearance. UNC was bounced by Georgia in the Elite Eight when he was a sophomore, and then in the Sweet 16 by Indiana when he was a senior.

34. He is 12th all-time in playoff minutes with 7,474, half a quarter behind 11th place Tony Parker at 7,480.

35. He completed his degree from North Carolina in 1986.

36. He was the third pick of the 1984 NBA draft, behind Akeem Olajuwon (Houston) and Sam Bowie (Portland).

37. In 2015, he said he would pick Dean Smith over Phil Jackson if he needed a coach to win one game.

38. He won back-to-back slam dunk championships in 1987 and 1988. He beat Jerome Kersey in the ’87 finals and Dominique Wilkins in the ’88 finals.

39. Playing pitcher and center field, his youth baseball team was one win away from the Little League World Series.

40. Not an unknown, he was ACC Freshman of the Year before hitting the game-winning shot against Georgetown to lift the Tar Heels to the 1982 NCAA championship.

41. Bryon Russell, who attempted to defend him on the last shot of Game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals, has his jersey retired at his alma mater, Long Beach State.

42. A first-team All-American as a sophomore at North Carolina, he added the Wooden and Naismith awards as a junior before leaving one year early for the NBA.

43. He is 10th all-time in playoff assists with 1,022, just behind ninth place Kobe Bryant, who has 1,040.

44. He has two older brothers, Larry and James Jr., an older sister, Deloris, and a younger sister, Roslyn.

45. In 127 games with the Birmingham Barons minor league baseball team in 1994, he hit .202 with 88 hits in 436 at-bats. He hit three home runs and drove in 51 RBIs.

46. He played all 82 games with the Washington Wizards in 2002-03, his final season.

47. He is one of four players to have his jersey retired by the Bulls, joining Bob Love, Jerry Sloan and Scottie Pippen.

48. In his first game back from his first retirement, he scored 19 points in 43 minutes in a 103-96 loss at Indiana in 1995.

49. His shot over Craig Ehlo eliminated the Cleveland Cavaliers from the 1989 Eastern Conference first round. The Bulls were the sixth seed and Cleveland was seeded third.

50. Twenty players who played for the Birmingham Barons in 1994 with him would also play in the majors. Some of those were on short stays in Birmingham for reasons such as injury rehab.

51. On March 18, 1995, he issued a two-word press release to announce his first comeback to basketball: “I’m back.”

52. His statue outside of the United Center is known as The Spirit.

53. He is the only black owner in the NBA.

54. He was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1988.

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