“‘Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.’ — Michael Jordan” (Patel). This quote by Michael Jordan shows what he believes and also presents his ideas about becoming a better person, no matter what it is that you do. Michael Jordan is said to be the greatest basketball player that ever lived and this is not just because of how great he actually was, but his impact has shaped today’s game to what it is all about. Throughout his career he exhibited his grit and determination to win games, but the attitude he always had was what made him different from everyone else. The game of basketball has been influenced by many great players, but none as great as Michael Jordan and his impact is still being shown in the way basketball is played today. “The effect of the successful adventure of the hero is the unlocking and release again of the flow of life into the body of the world” (Campbell 32). Pertaining to the Hero’s Journey, Michael Jordan has overcome some of the toughest of obstacles that someone could face and he earned his own fame due to his determination and his championship attitude.
“Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York City, New York” (Ott). While he was young, he and his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, Michael’s Ordinary World, where his mother Deloris was a banker and his father James was a General Electric plant supervisor. Even when Michael was young, he showed just how talented he was and his parents played a stupendous role in molding him into a champion. While attending Laney High School in 1978, Michael was 5’9” which made perfect sense as to why a 6’7” player took the last spot on the roster (Ott). Even though Michael did not make the varsity squad, he was determined to be the best he could be. “This requires a deeper wisdom than the other, and results in a pattern not of action but of significant representation” (Campbell 296). This was Michael’s Call to Adventure and this pushed him to make a change. “…Coach Herring showed he had Jordan’s best interests at heart by personally running him through drills every day as a junior. The hard work – and a fortuitous growth spurt – turning the gangly teenager into the Laney varsity alpha dog” (Ott). Michael Jordan learned hard work and dedication early and this obstacle proves to be just a stepping stone for his unforeseen and remarkable basketball career.
It may seem like Michael Jordan always had everything figured out, but that was not always the case. Just like everyone else, Michael found himself struggling and fighting for success and Dean Smith was someone Michael often had there to support him. For Michael this was Meeting Dean Smith was Michael’s coach at the University of North Carolina yet he was more than just a coach to Jordan. In the summer of 1980, Michael was invited to a basketball camp by Coach Dean Smith at the University of North Carolina and this was where the legend of Michael Jordan really took a foothold (Ott). After the first day of the camp, assistant coach Roy Williams told his fellow assistant coach Eddie Fogler, ‘I think I’ve just seen the best 6’4′ high school player I’ve ever seen.’ (Ott). Michael’s senior year was successful for him while he averaged a triple-double, but his team just missed claiming the divisional title (Ott). Michael did not receive any special treatment at UNC and he liked that (Ott). “‘[Smith] was the perfect guy for me,’ Jordan later said. ‘He kept me humble, but he challenged me.’”(Ott). “As it turned out, they were perfect for each other: When Jordan coolly sank a go-ahead jump shot with 15 seconds left in the 1982 NCAA title game against Georgetown University, he gave Coach Smith his first NCAA championship. And with that first major, televised triumph, Jordan was officially on the map as a young American sports star, ready for the next steps in a career that would carry him to unprecedented heights of success and fame” (Ott). Michael began to create a name for himself in the basketball world and Coach Dean Smith was his guidance through his new stardom.
“After winning the Naismith and the Wooden College Player of the Year awards in 1984, Jordan left North Carolina one year before his scheduled graduation to enter the 1984 NBA Draft” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). Michael’s transition into the NBA proved to be a game changer and evolved him into the alpha dog of the league. In Michael’s debut NBA game, “He would go on to play a total of 29 minutes and score 18 points in a victory for the Bulls” (Harney). “The rookie version of Michael Jordan was very deferential to veterans despite all of the media buzz surrounding his jump to the NBA… Jordan would even to as far as to highlight later in his career in his book how important he felt past stars and veterans were to his development when he wrote, ‘Without Julius Erving, David Thompson, Walter Davis, and Elgin Baylor, there would never have been a Michael Jordan. I evolved from them’” (Harney). “He quickly became a fan favorite even in opposing arenas, and appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the heading ‘A Star is Born’ just over a month into his professional career” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). “Other veterans in the league were not early Michael Jordan fans either. During the All-Star game, Jordan just wanted to fit in given all of the publicity he had been getting all season… After the game was played, a big story came out about All Star players on both teams conspiring to embarrass Jordan during the game by denying him the ball and letting friends score to make him look bad on defense” (Harney). “Michael Jordan was selected as both an All-Star Starter and as the NBA Rookie of the Year during his first year in the NBA. During this season, he led the Chicago Bulls in scoring, rebounds, assists, and steals while setting a franchise record for points scored in a season. His numbers for the season were: 28.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 5.9 assists per game, and 2.39 steals per game. Jordan was actually human from three his rookie year with only a 17.3% average from beyond the arc. He would later make his outside shooting a point of emphasis and would finish his NBA career with a 32.7% three point average” (Harney). After a successful rookie season, Michael’s second season was not as fortuitous yet still successful. “Jordan burst into the big time with a fabulous first season, earning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award in 1984-85 after averaging 28.2 points per game. An injured foot sidelined him for 64 games in his second campaign, but he came back late in the year to score an NBA playoff-record 63 points in a first-round game against the Boston Celtics” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). This spark from Michael Jordan after his minor setback proved he was meant to be in the NBA and he did not stop there. “Jordan led the league in scoring again in the 1987–88 season, averaging 35.0 ppg on 53.5% shooting and won his first league MVP award” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). Not only did Michael get all of these accolades, he also became a leader for his team and piloted them straight to success. “‘The Shot’ is the name given to a game-winning basket made by Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls in the fifth and final game of the first round of the 1989 NBA Playoffs against the Cleveland Cavaliers, on May 7, 1989, on Cleveland’s home floor in Richfield, Ohio. The buzzer-beater gave Chicago the best-of-five series, 3–2. It was both a game and series winner. The Shot is considered one of Jordan’s greatest clutch moments, and the game itself is a classic” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). Only 4 days later Michael showed his true championship grit and escorted the Bulls to an NBA Championship over the Los Angeles Lakers. “The Bulls would defeat the Lakers in 4 games to 1. This would ultimately turn out to be Magic Johnson’s last NBA Finals appearance, who was without James Worthy and Byron Scott, the Laker’s #2 and #3 scorers, in the final game” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). This was Michael Jordan’s first of the six NBA Championships that he would go on to achieve and this even meant so much to him that after the game he wept while holding the trophy.
Michael found who he really was and who he was meant to be through basketball. His love of the game drove him to earn everything that he accomplished. Michael’s parents were his biggest supporters and pushed him from a young age to be his best. “James Raymond Jordan, Sr. (July 31, 1936 – July 23, 1993) was the father of the basketball superstar Michael Jordan and Army Command Sergeant Major James R. Jordan, Jr., and the grandfather of Illinois Fighting Illini guard Jeffrey Jordan” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). “On October 6, 1993, Jordan announced his retirement, citing a loss of desire to play the game. Jordan later stated that the murder of his father earlier in the year shaped his decision”… “Jordan was close to his father; as a child he had imitated his father’s proclivity to stick out his tongue while absorbed in work. He later adopted it as his own signature, displaying it each time he drove to the basket” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). When Michael lost his father it obviously hurt him deeply as it would anyone else, but Michael decided to end his basketball career early because of it. “My father used to say that it’s never too late to do anything you wanted to do. And he said you never know what you can accomplish until you try, said Jordan” (Berkrow). After Jordan’s retirement from basketball in 1993, he entered the Minor League Baseball system. “Jordan then further surprised the sports world by signing a minor league baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox”… “Jordan has stated this decision was made to pursue the dream of his late father, who had always envisioned his son as a major league baseball player” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). Michael played baseball in 1994 and “Michael Jordan decided to return to basketball in 1995, after a short stint as a baseball player. Although he failed to lead the Bulls to the Finals in that year, he returned to pre-retirement from the next year and led the Chicago Bulls to one of the most memorable seasons ever” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). This time in Michael’s life was his Revelation or the time where he began to see his true potential.
After winning his fourth NBA Title Michael Jordan’s career looked like it was peaking, but looking back now, it had just begun. Michael had gained so much fame and respect that he was asked to shoot a basketball movie, where he was the star actor. The movie he starred in was called “Space Jam” and it was released in 1996. Michael began to set his life out in many areas and develop a culture around who he is and what he is about. For the next two years Michael would lead the Chicago Bulls to two more NBA Championships and both over the Utah Jazz. “He already had led the Chicago Bulls to four championships, winning Finals MVP honors each time. He owned nine NBA scoring titles, four MVP awards, two Olympic gold medals and a host of additional honors and records, yet the 1997 NBA Finals would provide a platform for him to add to his amazing story”(“Michael Jordan Timeline”). Jordan winning the title for the fifth time was extraordinary, yet in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals Michael Jordan showed the world once again, why he was the greatest of all time. “It represents June 11, 1997 — Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, known as the “Flu Game” — when Jordan summoned something within him that the league had never seen” (Dodson). “‘The big story here tonight — the story concerning Michael Jordan’s physical condition,’ said play-by-play commentator Marv Albert on the broadcast that night before the game. ‘This is Jordan arriving two hours ago. He is suffering from flulike symptoms.’”… “With the series tied 2-2, there was no chance Jordan would miss Game 5, even when illness broke him down heading into the road contest in Salt Lake City. In the beginning of the game, Jordan appeared weak and out of place, allowing the Jazz to build a 16-point lead in the first quarter” (Dodson). “As ill as Jordan was, however, it didn’t keep him from balling out. In Chicago’s 90-88 win, the ailing Jordan recorded an unbelievable 38 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block, including a 3-pointer with less than a minute left that gave the Bulls a lead they did not relinquish” (Dodson). ”’I almost played myself into passing out,’ Jordan said after the game. ‘I came in and I was almost dehydrated, and it was all just to win a basketball game. I couldn’t breathe. My energy level was really low. My mouth was really dry. They started giving me Gatorade, and I thought about IV.’” (Dodson). Not only was the 1997 NBA Finals historic, but in 1998 the Bulls and the Jazz met for the second year in a row for another showdown. In this series, the Bulls led by Michael Jordan took the title once again. “The battlefield is symbolic of the field of life, where every creature lives on the death of another” (Campbell 205).“Jordan drove inside the 3-point line, crossed over Russell (perhaps giving the push off), and hit a 20-foot jump shot to give the Bulls an 87-86 lead with 5.2 seconds left. After a time-out, Stockton’s three-point attempt hit the rim and bounced away, giving the Bulls their sixth NBA title in 8 years. Jordan, who scored 45 points, and whose game-winning shot has been immortalized around the world, was named the Finals MVP” (“Michael Jordan Timeline”). In a span of 10 seconds, Michael had made history once again.
Michael’s Transformation may have begun after winning his sixth NBA Championship, but it is more notably seen when he retires from the NBA for his second time in 1999 and yet he could not stay away from basketball. “For when a heart insists on its destiny, resisting the general blandishment, then the agony is great; so too the danger. Forces, however, will have been set in motion beyond the reckoning of the senses. Sequences of events from the corners of the world will draw gradually together, and miracles of coincidence bring the inevitable to pass” (Campbell 196). “Jordan had joined the Wizards as president of basketball operations on January 19, 2000. About six months before his return, he began a rigorous training routine in anticipation of a comeback” (NBA.com Staff). Michael gave the world three more seasons to top off his fifteen season career. A career riddled with injury, illness, obstacles and loss, but also jam-packed with accomplishments, victory, celebration and fulfillment. Players gave a new reverence to the greatest basketball player of all time as he retired for the third and final time. “And on April 16, 2003, as Jordan left for the bench one last time in his NBA career in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers, the crowd, his teammates, opponents and officials all partook in a three-minute standing ovation as the world said goodbye to the game’s greatest player. In 2009, during his Basketball Hall of Fame Induction speech, Jordan left us with one last thought on his career. ‘One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50,’ Jordan said. ‘Don’t laugh.’’ (NBA.com Staff). “On the other hand, like most of the rest of us, one may invent a false, finally unjustified, image of oneself as an exceptional phenomenon in the world, not guilty as others are, but justified in one’s inevitable sinning because one represents the good” (Campbell 205). Michael’s Return is something of a fairy tale, but his impact on the game of basketball and the lives of many will last forever.