Today Michael Jordan, the greatest individual basketball player of all time, is celebrating his 50th birthday. He’s now technically, officially an old man.
It seems strange to me to live in a world where Michael Jordan is in his fifties. In my mind he’s still that guy that could dunk the ball from the free-throw line. He probably always will be, no matter how old and dusty he becomes.
I never got to see Jordan play basketball, even when he played for the somewhat local Washington Wizards, but I did get to see him play baseball. I was down south in 1994 and was able to go to Birmingham, Alabama, and see him play double-A baseball for the Birmingham Barons. It was a strange sight to see him play baseball in the hot Alabama sun, mostly because he was so bad at it. I couldn’t get over how awful his batting stance and swing was. As fluid and graceful he was on the basketball court, he was jerky and awkward in the batter’s box. He actually got two hits in the game, but was picked off at first base, not because he was trying to steal second, but because he wasn’t paying attention and simply stepped off.
The whole thing was weird to see.
Michael Jordan is now the majority owner and chairman of the Charlotte Bobcats, which if I remember correctly, is still technically an NBA team. In 2012, his line of basketball shoes and clothing at Nike sold $2.5 billion at the retail level, the most ever since Nike signed him in 1984. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played basketball since 2003.