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16 Feb 2007
Olympic News , BARKLEY, Charles

The Player who Inspired Dreams

Michael Jordan is undoubtedly the basketball player who slammed in the most baskets worldwide. With an average score of 30.1 points per match in the NBA (the US championship), he is considered as the best player of all time. The Olympic Games were the chance for him to use his talents for his country. Here is a profile of the most illustrious player on the Dream Team, who will celebrate his 44th birthday tomorrow.

Amateur or professional: you can always count on Jordan
Armed with the title of American College Champion 1982 (with the North Carolina Tar Heels), Michael Jordan participated as an amateur at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984. The US team was on top form and notched up victories at an impressive rate. All its opponents were beaten by an average of 32 points, and even a maximum of 58 against France. In the final, the USA won easily against the Spanish, 96 to 65. Michael Jordan finished the Games with an average of 17 points per match and a success rate of 55 per cent. Along with future stars of the NBA such as Patrick Ewing and Sam Perkins, the young basketball player, 21, stepped up to the top level of the podium: first Games, first gold medal.

Some months later, Michael Jordan was selected as the third pick by the Chicago Bulls for the NBA 1984-1985 season. Thus he went from the status of amateur to professional, and so could not take part in the Seoul Olympic Games. But for the Games of the XXV Olympiad in 1992 in Barcelona, the International Olympic Committee authorised the participation of professionals. Jordan would not miss this appointment, and took along some friends …

The Barcelona Games marked the advent of US basketball. The team selected, made up of the biggest players in the NBA, have become real legends: Charles Barkley, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, John Stockton and all the others. No need to be a genius to guess who would pocket the gold. What’s more, this prediction was confirmed pretty quickly. The Americans crushed all their opponents with an average 44-point lead: something never before seen! With an average of 14.9 points and 5 interceptions per match, Michael Jordan was the maestro of this team. At the end of eight matches, the USA won the Olympic title and were baptised The Dream Team. For Jordan, the tally was good: two gold medals at two editions of the Olympic Games.

What’s red and flies?
The Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan are almost inseparable. As the NBA seasons and his extraordinary exploits stacked up, the red Bulls 23 vest became mythical. The best rookie in 1985, six-times NBA champion, ten-times best NBA scorer, five-times best NBA player, selected 13 times for the All-Star Game and twice winner of the Slam Dunk Contest: no need to comment!

“His Airness” and “Air Jordan” are Michael Jordan’s most famous nicknames, both having the main characteristic of the basketball player in common: flight. Indeed, Jordan is known not only for his achievements, but also for the way in which he achieves them. Altius could be his motto! With a vertical leap of about 1.10m, he could stay in the air for several seconds, to the detriment of his opponents who always landed too quickly. Everyone still remembers the Slam Dunk Contest of 1988, where Jordan jumped from the baseline over several metres to finally slam the ball in the basket - all in a blaze of camera flashes.

Michael Jordan retired from basketball in 2003, but his influence is still present on the feet of young people the world over.

Michael JORDAN
(United States)
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