Michael Jordan, by the end of his career, was widely acknowledged as the greatest player in the history of the NBA. His resume speaks for itself. But it wasn't just what Jordan achieved, it was how he achieved it that has so many people ready to coronate him the best to ever do it.
But Jordan was never expected to be a massive superstar. He was in the legendary 1984 draft class, which included Hakeem Olajuwon and Charles Barkley. And while he had a solid resume during his time at the University of North Carolina, the attention was on Hakeem.
Jordan even missed his draft night in 1984, as he was part of trials conducted for the Team USA's 1984 Olympic Team. So Jordan was initially focused on his stint with Team USA at the Los Angeles games before he would join the Chicago Bulls.
Jordan was a star in the making. And those around him had a lot of confidence in him. He was a rare exception when it comes to rookies, as he got his own shoe deal with Nike as he entered the league. At the time, Nike was a running and track shoe company who were trying to venture into the NBA.
Yesterday, the 26th of October, marked the 37 year anniversary of Jordan signing his first Nike contract, worth $500,000 over 5 years. This was a surprise because rookies rarely got deals of this amount at the time.
And it was also the same day that MJ stepped on an NBA court for the first time, making his debut against the Chicago Bulls. He ended the game with 16 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 2 steals.
Jordan's contract with Nike, while lucrative, had a lot of steep conditions. He had to win rookie of the year, or be an All-Star, or be able to sell $4 million worth of shoes in his first three seasons. MJ surpassed expectations, accomplishing all these within his first season.
MJ went on to have an incredible first season in the NBA, being named an All-Star, All-NBA Second Team and becoming Rookie Of The Year. The only player who can compare to Jordan's rookie year is LeBron James, who accomplished the same and put up similar number while being 2 years young than Jordan when he made his debut.
Jordan would go on to have an incredible career and play against some of the best players in history. After his first playoff encounter with Larry Bird, Bird said that god was playing through Michael Jordan, as he dropped 63 points on the legendary Celtics squad.
Jordan stayed with one team for the entirety of his prime years. He played for the Chicago Bulls between 1984 to 1998, with a 2-year gap between 1993 and 1995 which served as his first retirement and brief stint in baseball.
During his career, Jordan won 6 NBA championships, 6 Finals MVPs, 5 regular-season MVPs, and a Defensive Player Of The Year trophy. His accolades are matched by few in the history of the league, and only 2 players - Kobe Bryant and LeBron James - have come close to matching the aura and star power he had in the league.