The NBA has been looking for the next Michael Jordan ever since Jordan entered the league.
From his high-flying act, clutch shots, and the shoes (it's gotta be the shoes!), it's easy to see why the NBA wanted to find another star that could match Jordan's charisma.
It was engraved in everyone's mind. You couldn't get away from it. I mean, the Gatorade commercial you'd see half a dozen times a day was saying, “If I could be like Mike.”
We've seen plenty of “the next Jordan” come through the league. Some have worked out, like Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.
Others have had promising spurts, but the flame died too quickly: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway, Grant Hill, Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter.
These players may have not lived up to Michael Jordan's shadow, but they held their own and had respectable careers.
What if I told you there was another “next Jordan” named Harold Miner.
If you're a hardcore basketball nut, you might know him. If you're a casual fan, you probably have no idea who I'm talking about.
If you're the latter in this situation, no worries. I'll give you a history lesson on the player who was dubbed “Baby Jordan”, in high school.
Miner attended Inglewood High School, where he gained comparisons to Michael Jordan by the time he was a junior.
Miner averaged 27 points per game as a junior, but it was more of the way he scored that drew comparisons to the NBA's G.O.A.T.
Like Jordan, Miner flew through the air. His high-flying slam dunks wowed local crowds, and this quickly earned him the comparisons.
In his senior year of high school, Miner's play was pretty much the same as the year before. 28 points per game and more acrobatic slam dunks.
Miner gained attention from plenty of top colleges, but he chose to stay close to home by selecting USC.
“Baby Jordan” continued to wow crowds in his college career. As a junior, Miner averaged 26.3 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
Miner would be named college basketball player of the year by Sports Illustrated. He beat out top college players like Christian Laettner, Alonzo Mourning, and Shaquille O'Neal.
Miner's USC Trojans earned the second seed in the Midwest region. They would ultimately be upset in the second round by Georgia Tech on a last-second shot by James Forrest.
After his junior season, Miner decided to take his talents to the NBA. He would be selected 12th in the 1992 draft by the Miami Heat.
There was high hope for Miner, the next Jordan, aka “Baby Jordan”. On December 30, 1992, Miner would get his first shot at, Michael Jordan.
The game wouldn't favor “Baby Jordan”. The Chicago Bulls defeated the Miami Heat, 105-100. Jordan scored 39 on 9-18 shooting.
Miner on the other hand scored 10 on 5-14 shooting. The “elder Jordan” definitely got the best of “Baby Jordan” in this game. This includes a big block Jordan had on Miner.
This play pretty much summed up Miner's career. Like Jordan blocking him in the game, the “Baby Jordan” label that was put on him, seemed to block him during his career.
Everyone had extremely high hopes for Miner, and the pressure was something that Miner couldn't handle well. On top of the pressure, a nagging knee injury also plagued him.
After three seasons as a member of the Miami Heat, averaging 9.6 points per game, Miner was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavaliers never wanted to keep Miner, as they traded him to the Toronto Raptors for center Victor Alexander. The trade would be rescinded four days later when Alexander failed his physical.
Miner ended up playing 19 games for the Cavaliers, averaging a dismal 3.2 points per game.
The Cavaliers would quickly waive Miner, which ultimately ended his career. The following season he tried out for the Raptors but was cut in the preseason.
Like many players who suffer the same fate, Miner briefly considered a career overseas, but quickly shut that idea down.
Miner also decided not to try out for another NBA team, and he retired from the game, only playing 200 games.
In a strange twist of fate, Miner's last NBA game just so happened to be against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls won the game, 102-76. Now, while Jordan didn't have his normal dominant game, only scoring 14. Miner would be held scoreless in only 5 minutes of play.
Miner's head coach at USC, George Raveling, had this to say about Miner:
“I always felt the worst thing to happen to Harold was the 'Baby Jordan' tag.”
Since retiring from the NBA, Miner has kept out of the public spotlight. He would later marry, move to Las Vegas, and become a stay-at-home father.
Many people wondered what happened to the former NBA player who fell out of the public spotlight.
There have been rumors that Miner either joined the witness protection program or was working at a fast-food restaurant in Los Angeles, or even that he was a cop with the LAPD.
In actuality, he just wanted a normal life, and you can't fault him for that.
Miner did show back up in the public spotlight when in 2011 he showed up to the Pac-10 tournament and was inducted into the conference’s Hall of Honor.
Miner also made an appearance in 2012, when his Number 23 jersey was retired by USC.
Even though his NBA career didn't live up to the hype, he did have some shining moments. These moments came in the NBA Slam Dunk Contest.
Miner participated in two slam dunk contests (93, 95). He would win both contests, proving he was one of the best dunkers in the game.
Unfortunately, his success in the Slam Dunk Contests couldn't follow him into his playing career.
But if this proves anything, it's extremely hard and stressful to live up to the hype of being the next Michael Jordan.
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