The NBA community knows Michael Jordan as a proud person and a tough competitor. However, the Chicago Bulls legend had a support system too. We’re referring to his father, James Jordan.
Here’s looking at how Jordan Sr. affected Michael, and how he was brutally taken away from his son’s life.
How Jordan Sr. was the greatest Michael Jordan supporter
It was 1993, and Jordan was taking the basketball world by storm. The legend had won three back-to-back championships with the Chicago Bulls and an Olympic gold medal with the Dream Team.
Jordan’s fame was reaching newer heights everyday, as he had his good luck charm with him. James Jordan, MJ’s father, was with him every step of the way from college to the throne that was the Bulls dynasty.
Shortly before his father’s death, MJ was facing accusations of having a gambling problem. His father, ever his advocate, sternly denied anything of the sort.
“What he has is a competition problem,” James told the Chicago Tribune. “He was born with that. And if he didn’t have a competition problem, you guys wouldn’t be writing about him.”
Everyone in the community during the 80s and the 90s knew Jordan Sr. as he would attend Michael’s games consistently.
In a 2018 Instagram post, the NBA legend described his father as one of his “biggest inspirations.”
The James Jordan murder
Unfortunately, Michael Jordan lost his father in a tragic incident. Neither was it of old age nor was it because of any disease. It was, sadly, because he was brutally murdered.
James Jordan suddenly went missing for several weeks in the summer of 1993.
Two callow men, who had criminal records, were charged with murder. Larry Martin Demery and Daniel Andre Green are the suspects in question. Demery was 17 at the time of arrest and Green was 18.
According to authorities, the two killed James Jordan in the early hours of July 23. He was napping along a North Carolina highway, as he was returning home from a funeral.
Apparently, the two crooks spotted the red Lexus SC400 James was in (MJ had recently purchased the car for his father). They proceeded to shoot the man in his sleep and robbed the car. They took the two championship rings that Jordan had given his father.
The authorities found his body on August 3 in a swamp in McColl, South Carolina. It was in a very decomposed state, and the police could not identify him immediately. Dental records helped determine that it was in fact James Jordan.
Demery pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, among other charges in 1995. He agreed to testify against Green. Most of the state’s case rested on Demery’s statement. Green was convicted of first-degree murder as well. The court gave both life sentences.
ESPN’s Michael Jordan centric docuseries ‘The Last Dance’ will launch the episode related to Jordan Sr. next.
What happened to MJ after the murder?
Jordan’s spirit looked like it was broken even though he refused to accept it. Just two months after the incident, he retired from the NBA for the first time. His decision caused a gigantic wave of shock in the sports community.
“I have nothing more to prove in basketball,” Jordan revealed, “I have no more challenges that I felt I could get motivated for. It doesn’t have anything to do with my father’s passing, or media pressure, or anything other than that I had achieved everything in basketball I could.”
He also highlighted that his father’s passing made him realize the value of family. “It made me realize how short life is, how quickly things can end, how innocently,” Jordan said at the news conference when he announced his retirement.
” I thought that there are times in one’s life when you have to put games aside. I wanted to give more time to my family. I’ve been very selfish about centering things on my basketball career. Now it’s time to be unselfish with them.”
Jordan went on to try professional baseball with the Birmingham Barons, a minor league team affiliated with the Chicago White Sox.
Michael Jordan returns to the NBA
He returned to the NBA late in the 1994-95 season. The Bulls went on to win the 1996 season where MJ averaged 30.4 points and made All-NBA 1st Team, All-Defense 1st Team. He won MVP of the All-Star game and ended it with a 4th MVP and Finals MVP award.
The 1996 NBA finals was an emotional day for MJ. It was Father’s Day and it was also the first championship he had won without his father by his side.
After this comeback, he retired two more times, in 1998 and 2003. He won two more championships with the Bulls after 1996 to complete the threepeat.