Happy Birthday Michael Jordan: Relive the NBA Icon’s Best Moments

by Emily Morgan

Today, we’re here to celebrate the man, the myth, the legend: the one and only Michael Jordan. 

The new owner of 23XI racing turns 58 today, and as a way to celebrate him, we’re looking back at a few of his most memorable moments. 

Even though his last game as a player in the NBA was 18 years ago, Jordan has maintained his spotlight through activism, philanthropy, and partnerships. 

The legacy left intact on the NBA by Jordan is undeniable. He set the bar (or should we saw hoop) ridiculously high for the following generations of NBA superstars. The likes of LeBron James and the late Kobe Bryant both took a page out of MJ’s playbook and many others look to his blueprint to create their own legacy. 

Jordan has had no shortage of accolades in his career. The success he achieved, winning the NBA Championship six times with Chicago Bulls and being the league MVP five-times, has inspired players through generations to only hope to have a slice of that type of success in their lifetime. 

In honor of No. 23’s birthday, we thought now would be a great time to relive his most iconic moments. 

Michale Jordan: Forever A Tar Heel 

Even before he slipped on his red and black Chicago Bulls jersey, Jordan played at the University of North Carolina. During the 1982 NCAA National Championship Game, Jordan and the Tar Heels trailed 62-61 with 32 seconds remaining, and the final shot went to one person: Michael Jordan.

The sequence resulted in memorable moments that would put him in the schools’ Hall of Fame. Not only did he help UNC take their second-ever national championship as a freshman, but he also finished the title game with 16 points, nine rebounds, two steals, two assists, and one clutch jumper that will live in Tar Heels history until the end of time. 

“That was the birth of Michael Jordan,” said Jordan in 2016 in an interview with Craig Sager. “Before then I was Mike Jordan. All of a sudden, I make that shot and I’m Michael Jordan. For me, it started my career.”

Michael Jordan’s 63-point game vs. the 1986 Celtics

Taking the court at the Boston Garden in 1986, Michael Jordan scored the most points in a playoff game against one of the teams regarded by many as the best, the Boston Celtics.

Jordan’s 63-point record, which no one has ever come close to matching, remains more than three decades later.

To this day, that game has left an indelible impression on Jordan and all those who witnessed it. Larry Bird famously went as far as to say it wasn’t MJ who dropped that 63 points on Boston but “God disguised as Michael Jordan.”

MJ: The Slam Dunk King

In 1987, Jordan won the Slam Dunk contest after finishing second in 1985 to Dominque Wilkens. Jordan put his own spin on Dr. Julius Erving’s free throw launch and it ended up working in his favor. In 1988, Jordan beat Wilkens and received a perfect 50 in the contest.

MJ was part of this event three times but won only in his final two appearances back in 1987 and 1988. However, his 1988 showdown with Dominique Wilkins is considered one of the most outstanding face-offs in the contest’s history. 

This win made him the first player to win the contest twice in a row and established that he was one of the greatest dunkers the NBA had ever witnessed. 

The Flu Game

On June 11, 1997, during Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz, Jordan pulled out something inside him that the league had never seen during what would become known as the “flu game.” 

Jordan, who was suffering flu-like symptoms, was determined not to miss Game 5, and headed into Salt Lake City’s road contest with the series tied 2-2. 

Jordan played weak at the beginning of the game, allowing the Jazz to have a 16-point lead in the first quarter.

Then Jordan began playing like his usual self, scoring 17 points in the second quarter alone despite his illness. While on the bench, the crowd could see him with ice packs on his head while chugging fluids. However, nothing could keep him from balling out.

In Chicago’s 90-88 win, Jordan recorded an unbelievable 38 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three steals and one block, including a 3-pointer with less than a minute left that gave the Bulls the lead. 

Michael Jordan’s Legacy Off The Court

Now that he’s finished his NBA playing career, Michael Jordan continues to pay it forward. Jordan has donated some $30 million over the last five years to activist projects, including $5 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, at least $3 million to hurricane relief, millions to Make-A-Wish, and millions to Chicago-area-charities.

“My purpose for doing it is because I see a certain need,” he said in an interview. “I feel a certain warmth about it. If I feel like I’m making a difference, that’s all that matters to me.”

Jordan also helped support two health clinics in his home state of North Carolina.

“I’ll be able to give back to the community that’s supported me over the years when I was playing the game of basketball to now where I’m a part of this community,” he said at the event’s groundbreaking.

This week, Jordan also announced that he would be donating $10 million to open two more medical clinics in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Slated to open in 2022, the clinics will serve both the uninsured or underinsured residents of the area, according to a news release from Novant Health. 

“Everyone should have access to quality health care, no matter where they live, or whether or not they have insurance”, Jordan said in a statement.

 “Wilmington holds a special place in my heart and it’s truly gratifying to be able to give back to the community that supported me throughout my life.”