To many, the world's greatest basketball player, Michael Jordan (1963-) was born on this day in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina, the fourth of five children.
"You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them," he once said. "Always be positive, respect others, enjoy life."
With agility, dexterity and creative play, the 6'6" Jordan led the University of North Carolina to the 1982 NCAA championship. He signed with the Chicago Bulls in 1984 and the team won six NBA titles.
"Once I get the ball, you're at my mercy," explained Jordan. "There's nothing you can say or do about it. I own the ball. I own the game, I own the guy guarding me. I can actually play him like a puppet."
Nicknamed "Air" for his amazing razzle-dazzle play, he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles. "When does jumping become flying?" asked the five-time MVP who won 10 scoring titles and averaged an unbelievable 31.5 points per game.
Upon his retirement in 1998, he said, "I donít have a problem with getting older. Iím getting wiser."
A hard man to hold down, Jordan returned to the NBA in 2001 for a two-year stint with the Washington Wizards. When he finally said goodbye as a player in 2003, Jordan had played in 1,072 games and had scored 32,292 points.
"I never, never took the game for granted. I was very true to the game, and the game was very true to me. It was just that simple," Jordan said.
In tribute, biographer David Halberstan wrote that Jordan "not only defines the game, he defines an era." And L.A. Laker superstar Magic Johnson said it even better, "There's Michael, then there's all the rest of us."