Before Michael Jordan Was a Mega Star, He Was a Pretty Good April Fools’ Prankster
Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player ever. He might even be the best athlete ever. Jordan simply dominated with his athletic skills on the basketball court. Of the court, Jordan, back in the early part of his playing days and even beyond, showed he had a sense of humor and the ability to keep a straight face. On two occasions, Jordan fooled folks with some pretty good acting on April Fools’ Day.
Michael Jordan’s NBA career
There aren’t many who rival Michael Jordan when it comes to playing basketball. In 15 seasons, Jordan was an NBA All-Star 14 times. Jordan was both a prolific scorer and a tenacious defender. Six times, he led the NBA in scoring and nine times he was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team.
Jordan was named the league’s Most Valuable Player five times and he led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships. In all six of those NBA Finals, he was named the MVP. For his career, Jordan averaged 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 5.3 assists per game.
At one point, Jordan even gave up basketball to give professional baseball a shot. He played in the minor leagues in the Chicago White Sox organization, never made the big leagues, and went back to the NBA. In his first full season back on the basketball court, he averaged 30.4 points per game and played in all 82 regular-season games.
Jordan’s prank while in the NBA
Back in 1987, Michael Jordan had just completed his third season and averaged 37.1 points per game, leading the league. In the previous season, Jordan played in just 18 games as he battled a foot injury that kept him out of 64 games. On April 1, 1987, Jordan teamed up with Chicago radio host Pat Benkowski of WKQX-FM to pull a fast one on Chicago basketball fans.
“Right now, with the injuries I have, I feel mentally and physically strained,” Jordan said on the air. “My body is tired, and I’m just ready to quit playing basketball. This is my third year in the NBA, and I feel I have enough financial security that I can leave. I’m ready to start my golf game.”
He then went on to discuss his injuries from the previous year, making his prank more believable. “I went through a lot of nicks and knacks of injuries, and any one of them could’ve been a career-ending injury. It woke me up and let me know I should start doing things not as physical.”
Jordan ended by saying he has spoken to his teammates and they had accepted his decision. Benkowski had approached Jordan with the prank idea a few days earlier. The radio station was flooded with calls throughout the day.
Jordan’s high school prank
When he was a senior at Laney High School in 1981, Jordan told the school newspaper he had failed four classes and would have to stay back. He said he wouldn’t be attending North Carolina in the fall.
“It’s not that I have to stay here another year that’s upsetting, but Dean Smith wanted me this fall,” Jordan said. “Now I have to spend a whole year not playing basketball at all because I can’t play here as a senior for two years. I really didn’t think my teachers would fail me, I thought I had it made.”
Jordan said he would spend his free time working on his academics and asked if anyone who was interested in tutoring him to get in touch with him.