Hey guys, the following story of mine ran in the premiere issue of Suzuki Canada's Way of Life which dropped last fall. (it's as timeless as the Aaron Yates Q&A I just put on Bleacher Report so I thought I'd post this one too)
Five years ago shortly after retiring from the hardcourt for the third and final time, Jordan formed his own AMA Superbike Championship series team.
When most sports fans first find out about Michael Jordan's foray into motor sports they automatically assume it must just be some business venture he's lending his name to, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
MJ grew up in Wilmington, NC, riding dirt bikes and following NASCAR. As anyone schooled in the principles of quantum physics, or for that matter any Battlestar Galactica fan worth their dradis, will tell you, space and time are teeming with infinite constellations of alternate universes where things may have turned out a tad differently.
In one world, No. 23 took more checkered flags than Dale Earnhardt and in his 50s still gives young guns Ben Roethlisberger and Justin Timberlake a run for their lunch money. His clothing line Bumpman raised a cool billion dollars in its IPO last year.
In yet another world his airness discovers his inborn talent for swinging five-irons in high school and turns pro. He first draws attention for his mammoth drives and lady killing post-birdy tongue waggle. After six straight green jackets at Augusta, MJ grows tired of whooping the competition, doffs his clubs, and picks up a racket.
In a Beijing minute he becomes a major thorn in Pete Sampras' unibrow and after winning a couple of grand slams, convinces tennis' powers that be to change the nickname of the sport's major tournaments to the more marketable (and less confusing to baseball fans), T-Jams.
One Thing Leads to Another
Sometimes all it takes is one chance meeting or a small serendipitous twist of fate to set you on a new path you never thought you'd take. MJ had started riding for fun on the streets of the windy city with a handful of buddies in the summertime.
Jordan's ride-along entourage soon mushroomed to a few dozen and eventually an aspiring AMA road racer was added to the mix sowing and the seed for a racing team.
"Once I got a taste of it, I was hooked," said Jordan of his introduction to the sport in a rare presser with series scribes last year. I'm glad that I've gotten into this because I truly, truly enjoy the sport."
"These guys—the dangerous channels that they take, the split-second decisions—that's talent. I sit and watch the races, and I'm starting to be able to calculate some of the things that are happening in a race, some of the mistakes that are being made."
As the owner of the Jordan Suzuki team, MJ brings the same dedication to winning he epitomized in his illustrious career on the hardcourt. He attends as many races as he can, motivates his drivers in the paddock, and loves to get a firsthand feel for the bikes.
"I get on the track and I ride. I fall. I crash. I do all that stuff. To me, I'm a daredevil to some degree. I'm not afraid of a challenge. I'm not afraid to step into something that I don't know much about, but I can learn. And once I learn it, I want to win. I want to compete at it. This drives my competitive juices."
Just as it takes time for an expansion team to shake out their sea legs, new racing teams take time to get up to speed. Five years into the road racing game, Jordan Suzuki is becoming less and less of a stranger on the podium.
In 2007, top rider Aaron Yates finished fourth in the AMA Superbike points race and was third in Superstock. This year Yates continues to prove that this satellite team can hang tough with their well-oiled factory Suzuki cousins.