LOS ANGELES, September 11 – Michael Jordan, a global icon who revolutionized basketball as well as sports marketing, will take his place among the game's greats Friday with his induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
Jordan heads a stellar class of 2009 inductees, which also includes his 1992 Olympic Dream Team colleague and San Antonio Spurs standout David Robinson, Utah Jazz stalwart and ’92 Dream Teamer John Stockton and longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
When they gather for enshrinement in Springfield, Massachusetts, Jordan, as usual, will be the undisputed superstar of the bunch.
With his amazing aerial moves, intense leadership and the adaptability to change his game and use teammates when age took a toll, Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six National Basketball Association titles from 1991 to 1998, abdicating the throne in 1994 and 1995 when he made a stunning retirement at the age of 30 for an unsuccessful bid at playing baseball.
His first departure on October 6, 1993, return on March 19, 1995, and latest retirement in January of 1999 all commanded worldwide attention.
In addition to his starring role with the original 1992 US Olympic gold medal "Dream Team", Jordan became a popular pitchman for products worldwide.
Shoes bearing his nickname, "Air", helped Jordan make more than 100 million dollars a year from endorsements and salaries above 30 million dollars. Children all over the world sported replicas of his jersey number 23 as they tried to be like Mike.
His mega-endorsement deals paved the way for such super sports salesmen as golf star Tiger Woods, just as his on-court skills inspired later NBA stars such as Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.
Jordan led the NBA in scoring for seven consecutive seasons from 1987 to 1993 and again from 1996 to 1998. He was a five-time NBA season Most Valuable Player and a six-time finals MVP.
He didn’t win as many NBA titles as Hall of Famer Bill Russell, who has 11. He didn’t score as many points in his career as Kareem-Abdul Jabbar or Karl Malone.
But Jordan’s fierce competitiveness made him the quintessential clutch player, his career a seemingly non-stop highlight reel that needed no translation as it was beamed around the planet.
"He’s the guy that always comes through in the clutch," said Phil Jackson, Jordan’s coach at Chicago. "He’s a winner and he’s proven it so many times over and over again."
After Jordan’s first retirement, in October of 1993, he took up baseball, the sport his late father had always wanted him to play.
When a baseball labor feud threatened to envelope Jordan in 1995, he returned to the Bulls, issuing a simple statement: "I’m back."
With Jordan — wearing a new number 45 — struggling in the wake of his layoff, the Bulls lost in the NBA quarter-finals that season.
He went back to number 23 and back to work in the off-season and the Bulls followed with the best season in NBA history posting a 72-10 win-loss record.
In his second NBA stint, Jordan didn’t miss a single game, often playing more minutes than he did in his younger days.
After retiring again in 1999, Jordan became president of the Washington Wizards. He made an undistinguished return as a player for the Wizards before retiring again, and became a part-owner of the Charlotte Bobcats in 2006.