Dedicated to all the fighters,
“One day, you might look up and see me playing the game at 50. Don’t laugh. Never say never, because, limits like fears, are often just an illusion.”
I’ve retired twice in my life. Gave up a million times and I always strive to rise back up. Let me tell you a little bit of my background story. I was born to two lovely parents, James and Deloris Jordan on the 17th of February 1963, in Brooklyn, New York. My father worked as a General Electric plant supervisor, and my mom worked at a bank. Dad taught me to work hard and not to be tempted by street life; there were plenty of kids who were on drugs and vandalism. Mom was more in to grooming me and taught me to sew, clean, and do laundry. I loved sports but didn’t make it to my high school basketball team as a sophomore. I kept practicing and made the team the next year. After high school I accepted a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina, and I was lucky to be coached by head coach Dean Smith.
In my first season at North Carolina I was named Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Rookie of the Year for 1982. Our team won the ACC championship, and I made the clutch jump shot that beat Georgetown University for the championship of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). I was able to lead the ACC in scoring as a sophomore and as a junior. The Sporting News named me college player of the year for both years. I left North Carolina after junior year and the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association (NBA) chose me as the third pick of the 1984 draft! Yup, that’s right the not so good sophomore; at least that’s what I though. Before joining the Bulls, I was a member of the summer 1984 United States Olympic basketball team that won the gold medal in Los Angeles, California.
The thing is when I was chosen for the Chicago bulls, we were a losing team. To my shock and pleasing it seemed that I was quite a pro and was able to turn that legacy around. In my first season I was named to the All-Star team and was later honored as the league’s Rookie of the Year. In the 1985-86 season I had a broken foot, it sidelined me for 64 games but I returned to score 49 points against the Boston Celtics in the first game of the playoffs and 63 in the second game—an NBA playoff record. The 1986–87 seasons were again one of my individual successes, and I started in the All-Star game after receiving a record 1.5 million votes. I was graced by god’s faith and hard work as first player since Wilt Chamberlain (1936–1999) to score 3,000 points in a single season. I concentrated on improving my other basketball skills, and in 1988 was named Defensive Player of the Year. I was also named the league’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) and became the first player to lead the league in both scoring and steals. I was named MVP in that year’s All-Star game again.
The management added Scottie Pippen, Bill Cartwright, Horace Grant, and John Paxson around me, and I think it was a very strong team. We won the 1991 NBA title by defeating the Los Angeles Lakers. The next year, the Bulls repeated as NBA champions by beating the Portland Trail Blazers. In 1992 I also played on the “Dream Team,” which participated in the Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain. The Olympic Committee had voted to lift the ban on professional athletes participating in the games. Our team easily won the gold medal, winning eight games by an average margin of 43.7 points.
Then, my dad was murdered. My whole world crashed. I became depressed and you know what I did. I QUIT. It didn’t matter what I did when my dad wasn’t with me. It was a time when I had to regain my strength, because I knew my life was basketball. Sometimes in life we are given hard choices, painful memories to make us strong and whatever the choices and pain we go through we become strong. We gain experience and we become more of who we want to be; a better version of our self.
I started playing again. It was a question in everyone’s head, “Could he do it again?” By then I had had won three straight NBA titles, three regular season MVP awards, three playoff MVP titles, seven consecutive scoring titles, and was a member of the All-Star team that I was in every year in the league. In just nine seasons I became the Bulls all-time leading scorer. I guess I had basketball in me and with many failed attempts I rose back to glory. It takes a lot of faith, courage, consistence to get where you want to get.
Life is tough for everyone. And everyone is battling their own fights. We are being given many hurdles to cross because we are meant for something bigger and better. Without knowing to you, you would have achieved more than what you want when you face life bravely and courageously. This is a game to play wisely and it will bring you down. Get back right up. Succeeding is not possible in a jiffy, but not trying is not excusable.
During these years I retired again. Then my wife wanted a divorce. As I said, life gives you ups and downs. We have to have control and be strong. It’s easy to say than do. But when you do it will all fall in to place. I started playing for Wizards when I was thirty eight, I knew I wasn’t in my roaring twenties but as I started off, who knows I might still be playing when I’m fifty.