The number 23 has taken on a special meaning thanks to Michael Jordan. It’s hard to look at any player who wears the No. 23 these days and not think that said player isn’t paying homage to Jordan. NBA players and fans alike cherish the ability to don 23, whether it’s on the professional hardwood or in their local rec league, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. While No. 23 isn’t reserved for the game’s greatest players like No. 10 is in international soccer, choosing to wear the number shows a certain respect, not only for the game, but for Jordan in particular.
Michael Jordan, turned 55 on last Saturday. And in honor of No. 23, here are 23 things you might not know about His Airness (original article, by Micah Adams):
1. Since he’s now 55, it’s only fitting to start by remembering the Double Nickel. It’s common knowledge that Jordan’s 55-point game at Madison Square Garden in 1995 came in just his fifth game back from his first retirement. But did you know that 42 of the 55 points came when guarded by John Starks?
2. For his career, Jordan was 9-of-18 shooting in the playoffs on potential game-tying or go-ahead shots in the final 24 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime. He was a perfect 3-of-3 on such shots in games when his team faced elimination and 4-of-7 when his team had an opportunity to clinch.
3. Going strictly by seeding, Jordan was never upset in the playoffs. Against teams seeded the same or lower, Jordan’s teams had a perfect 24-0 series record.
4. In the 11 seasons he played at least 20 games with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan finished in the top five of MVP voting 10 times. The exception? His rookie season when he finished sixth.
5. Jordan’s salary in 1995-96 was $3.85 million, which ranked 25th in the NBA that season. Players with higher salaries that season included Benoit Benjamin, Brian Shaw, Danny Ferry and Dale Davis.
6. Over an 11-game stretch in the spring of 1989, Jordan had 10 triple-doubles. Not once over the other 1,061 games of his career did he record back-to-back triple-doubles.
7. Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon are the only players in NBA history to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season.
8. Jordan was named first-team All-Defense nine times. That’s tied with Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett for the most in NBA history.
9. Jordan played in 35 NBA Finals games. He was his team’s outright leading scorer in 32 of them, with Scottie Pippen (twice) and Toni Kukoc (once) the only others to lead the Bulls in scoring.
10. In the 1993 NBA Finals, Jordan scored 38.4 percent of the Bulls’ total points. That’s the largest percentage of team points any player has been responsible for in a single NBA Finals.
11. Jordan is the only player to win an NBA title, NCAA title and multiple Olympic gold medals. NBA professionals were allowed to play in the 1992 Barcelona Games and Jordan was a key part of the US “Dream Team”. He was the team’s second highest scorer with 14.9 points per game and made a tournament-high 37 steals. When the US defeated Croatia 117-85 in the final, Jordan earned his second Olympic gold medal.
12. Jordan had four straight 40-point games during the 1993 NBA Finals. No other player in league history has scored 40 or more points in more than two consecutive Finals games.
13. Jordan is the only player to lead the NBA in both points per game and steals per game in the same season three separate times. Allen Iverson (twice) and Stephen Curry are the only other players to do it even once since steals became official statistics in the 1973-74 season.
14. Jordan wore No. 12 for one game. On Feb. 14, 1990, Jordan scored 49 points wearing No. 12 in a loss to the Magic. The only player in NBA history to score more points in a single game while wearing No. 12 is Hall of Famer George Yardley.
15. In his final season with the Washington Wizards, Michael Jordan dunked 21 times. In his final season with the Lakers, Kobe Bryant dunked five times.
16. By the end of his tenure with the Bulls, Jordan had developed into the game’s best midrange scorer. His final two seasons in Chicago, Jordan made 997 midrange shots, over 250 more than any other player.
17. There were five seasons in which Jordan led the NBA in both player efficiency rating (PER) and usage percentage. At the time of Jordan’s second retirement, David Robinson was the only other player that had done it even once since individual turnovers became official in 1977-78. Four others — Tracy McGrady, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook — have done it since, with James Harden knocking on the door this season.
18. Jordan averaged 11.4 assists per game in the 1991 NBA Finals and led the Bulls outright in assists in all five games. The only player to win Finals MVP while averaging more assists per game is Magic Johnson in 1987.
19. Michael Jordan shot 49.7 percent from the floor for his career. He had 10 seasons in which he shot better than 47 percent from the floor, something Kobe Bryant never did.
20. Michael Jordan’s shot over Bryon Russell in Game 6 of the 1998 Finals was a 17-footer from the top of the key. During the regular season in 1997-98, Jordan shot 33 percent on shots from 16 to 18 feet at the top of the key, which was below the league average of 37 percent. He missed 22 shots from that spot in the regular season, which trailed only Horace Grant and Rik Smits.
21. On Nov. 6, 1990, Jordan had 33 points and 12 assists in a two-point loss to Larry Bird’s Celtics. It was the Bulls’ third straight loss. It was also the last time that Jordan lost three straight games in a single season as a member of the Bulls. He played exactly 500 more regular-season games with Chicago.
22. Jordan’s title teams did not blow leads. In the six seasons they won the title, they were 42-0 in the playoffs and 210-5 in the regular season when leading by 10 or more entering the fourth quarter.
23. Including the regular season and playoffs, Jordan had five 60-point games. However, his teams were just 2-3 in those games. Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players with multiple 60-point games in losses. His final 60-point game came in January 1993 against the Magic, who beat the Bulls thanks to 29 points and 24 rebounds by rookie Shaquille O’Neal.
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