There are few NBA stars that possess the ability to have there first names be recognizable above any other name in their sport.
Today's game boasts interesting names such as Kobe and LeBron, but before they were even old enough to lace up sneakers, one man separated basketball from sports.
Michael was/remains the most recognizable name in not just sports, but in popular entertainment. His "air-ness" may share his name with the King of Pop and their achievements may be similar on a global stage, but Michael Jordan's ability to combine his achievements as an athlete and his ability to bolster his public image, with his successes in the business world, undoubtedly separates him from the other Michael.
Jordan entered a league dominated by Magic Johnson, Doctor J., Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Moses Malone. Among those titans of basketball, Jordan managed to captivate the sporting world, while playing for an untalented Chicago Bulls team.
Jordan's career seemed to reach new levels each season, but his team was not always recognized as the second (behind Bill Russell's Boston Celtics) greatest dynasty in basketball history.
Though MJ led his Bulls to the eighth seed in the playoffs during his first few seasons, a feat that is underappreciated on Chicago teams that were untalented and underachieving, his early career was marred by injuries and controversies caused by jealous opponents.
The NBA's most jealous superstar, Isiah Thomas, unsurprisingly led the charge in 1984. Michael Jordan was voted as a starter, by the fans, to the All-Star Game in his rookie season. Isiah Thomas, feeling the attention Jordan was receiving was unjust, led a player revolt during the All-Star Game. In a move most forgotten for unsportsmanlike behavior, Thomas refused to pass Jordan the ball throughout the entire game.
Jordan went on to win Rookie of the Year honors and his battles with Thomas had only just begun.
His next two seasons were busted by foot and knee problems.
In 1986, Jordan returned from knee surgery in time to face the Boston Celtics in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Though the Bulls were swept by Bird's Celtics, Jordan managed to set an unbroken playoff record of 63 points in Game Two.
In 1987, Jordan averaged an astonishing 37 PPG, but was once again swept by the Celtics.
It wasn't until 1988, perhaps Jordan's most successful season individually, when the Bulls emerged from the first round of the playoffs. That season, Jordan averaged 35 PPG and shot 52 percent from the field. He won his first of five NBA Most Valuable Player awards and the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
It's rare to have a player succeed on the offensive and defensive ends of the court in such a dominant fashion.
In 1988, the first of four epic postseason battles, Thomas and his Detroit Pistons eliminated the Chicago Bulls in five games.
The Pistons and Bulls would meet again in 1989 and the Pistons' now famous "Jordan Rules" defense facilitated in once again eliminating the Bulls.
In 1990 the Bulls emerging talent surrounding Jordan again fell to the Pistons as the "Jordan Rules" was now a famous and effective method for slowing down Jordan and stopping the Bulls.
It wasn't until 1991 that Jordan and his now ultra-talented squad finally beat the Detroit Pistons. The Bulls were able to finally get revenge and swept the Pistons led by Jordan opting for the assist over the shot, made difficult by the Pistons "Jordan Rules".
Isiah Thomas, in typical unsportsmanlike fashion, walked off of the court before the final buzzer without congratulating his opponent.
After defeating the Pistons in 1991, Jordan led his Bulls to its first NBA Championship.
The Bulls would go on to win six titles in seven years.
Michael Jordan, a man who achieved personal stats unmatched by any player in NBA history, won six NBA titles, five NBA MVP awards, six Finals MVP awards, Rookie of the Year honors, Defensive Player of the Year honors, 14 All-Star appearance, 10 All-NBA First Team appearances, nine-time Defensive First Team honors, three All-Star Game MVP awards, two Slam Dunk Contest crowns, and now he will be inducted into the Basketball Hall-of-Fame.
Jordan, nearly single-handedly, made famous such globally branded products as Nike and Gatorade.
On the day of Jordan's first retirement, the NY Stock Exchange actually took a dip because of Jordan's effect on global business.
No other professional athlete can boast such a claim.
I consider myself to be somewhat of an astute NBA historian and yet I had to research all of Jordan's accolades Online as to not forget any.
Above all of his personal and team achievements, perhaps Jordan's most admirable contribution to professional sports was his ability to face defeat, adversity, world fame, and tremendous success with grace, maturity, sportsmanship, and humility.
His brilliance on the basketball court is missed, but his presence is still felt by the players that follow him. Players such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James emulate Jordan in their on court highlights.
We can often be found, jaw dropped, after an amazing move made by today's players while thinking and sometimes shouting, "That was a Jordan move!"
Today's players may be able to resemble Jordan in their play, but they certainly cannot reach the levels Michael achieved, as he always carrying himself with class both on and off of the court.
Revisiting Michael Jordan's persona only reiterates the fact that today's players have a long way to go.
This article can also be seen at North Station Sports.