Michael Jordan was very close with his father, James Jordan. James constantly gave his son advice, and it helped the Chicago Bulls legend stay out of trouble and become one of the greatest players in NBA history.
Whenever Jordan needed someone to talk to, his father was always there for him. During the 1992 Eastern Conference semifinals, the Bulls battled the feisty New York Knicks, and Jordan asked his father how to win Game 7 at home after losing Game 6 at Madison Square Garden.
The guidance Jordan received from his father worked, as not only did the Bulls defeat the Knicks in Game 7, but MJ went off.
Michael Jordan scored 42 points in Game 7
The Bulls got blown out by the Knicks in Game 6 by a final score of 100-86. Jordan scored 21 points, but he shot only 9-of-25 from the field and had seven turnovers. The All-Star shooting guard was searching for answers on how to beat New York and turned to his father for help.
“The New York series was one of those fatherly advice type of series,” Jordan said in Michael Jordan Air Time. “So I kind of asked him, ‘What should I do? How should I attack? Should I feed off my teammates, or should I go out and be the leader and let them follow my lead?’ And like most fathers, he said, ‘Take the lead. If they don’t follow you, they don’t follow you, but you have to take the lead.’ I was ready to go to blows with them. I felt that I had to talk trash to the bully so we all can gain confidence. That’s just a part of the role that I have on the team is to lead. So that fatherly advice kind of worked in hand for me that day.”
After talking to his father, Jordan scored 42 points in Game 7 to lead the Bulls to a 110-81 win. His Airness shot 51.7% from the floor and also recorded three blocks and two steals. James Jordan played a significant role in his son’s life, which is why Superman called him his “rock” in ESPN’s The Last Dance docuseries.
Michael Jordan on his father: “He constantly gave me advice”
The sports world might have never been introduced to Jordan if his father didn’t set him straight in high school. In The Last Dance, Black Jesus spoke about the time when his father threatened to stop letting him play sports since he was getting in trouble a lot.
“He was my rock,” Jordan said about his father. “We were very close. “He constantly gave me advice. I remember in ninth grade, I got suspended three times in one year, and my father pulled me aside that summer and said, ‘Look, you don’t look like you’re headed in the right direction. You wanna go about doing all this mischievous stuff. You can forget sports.’ That’s all I needed to hear. From that point on, it was like tunnel vision, and I never got in trouble from that point on.”
James Jordan watched his son win three championships, three Finals MVPs, three regular-season MVPs, one Defensive Player of the Year Award, and seven scoring titles in the NBA. Unfortunately, he didn’t get to witness his son’s second stint with the Bulls due to a vicious and sad crime.
MJ’s father was tragically murdered in 1993
Jordan’s father was shot in the summer of 1993 by two men who found him sleeping in his Lexus in North Carolina. James Jordan was taking a nap in his car since he was tired from driving while on a road trip by himself.
Jordan retired from the NBA in October 1993. He no longer had the motivation to play basketball and was mentally and physically exhausted from winning three straight championships and losing his father.
To honor his father, who was a massive baseball fan, Jordan played minor league baseball in 1994. He batted .202 for the Birmingham Barons and drove in 51 runs.
In March 1995, Jordan returned to the Bulls. He won three more titles in 1996, 1997, and 1998. The 1996 championship was extra special since it took place on Father’s Day. Jordan cried in the locker room and said, “This is for daddy.”