Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan was fortunate to have both of his parents around growing up. Although his father was murdered in the summer of 1993, Jordan had his dad for 30 years and learned plenty of important lessons from him.
During his iconic NBA career, Jordan never got in trouble with the law and always seemed to make sound decisions. The six-time champion believes having his father around helped him with his decision-making skills, something he wished other players had at their disposal.
Michael Jordan: Having your father around is vital
In April 1998, Jordan told ESPN that he believed young players in the NBA were acting out, both on and off the court, due to their fathers not being around. Two-parent homes weren’t common back in the day, and Jordan was upset that other players didn’t get the guidance he received from his mom and dad.
“I know people are concerned about the behavior of some young players, but it starts at home,” Jordan said. “I’ve always said that. I wish some of the other guys in the league could have had fathers at home, just to see what it’s like, just to see how much better people they could be. Some of the background for the decisions, the evaluations, the choices you have to make, come from when you were at home growing up. Two-parent homes aren’t as prevalent anymore. Single-parent, either way, you’re missing the opposite influence of the missing parent. I had both parents. It helped my decision-making immensely. Especially now that I am a father, making choices like a father, talking to my kids. Like my father did with me.”
Jordan’s parents taught him right from wrong at an early age, which is why the Bulls icon never did anything illegal. Several players struggle to deal with fame and money and make bad decisions because their fathers either weren’t around or weren’t good role models.
Fortunately for Jordan, his father was always there for him, and the two were extremely close.
Michael Jordan on his dad: “He was my rock”
In Episode 7 of The Last Dance docuseries, Jordan talked about his father and how much he loved him. The five-time MVP told a fascinating story about his dad setting him straight at a young age when he was getting in trouble at school.
“He was my rock. We were very close,” Jordan said. “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.”
Jordan was devastated when his father was murdered in 1993, so much so that he retired from the NBA and pursued a baseball career since his dad loved the sport. However, His Airness returned to the Bulls in 1995, and after coming up short in the 1995 playoffs, the superstar shooting guard came back with a vengeance in 1995-96 and honored his dad on Father’s Day in 1996.
MJ won his fourth title on Father’s Day in 1996
Not only did Jordan lead the Bulls to 72 wins during the 1995-96 regular season, but he also won his fourth championship and fourth Finals MVP on Father’s Day. Chicago defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in Game 6 of the 1996 Finals on June 16. As expected, Jordan was emotional after winning a ring on Father’s Day.
“Well, I can’t even put it in words,” Jordan said after Game 6. “On Father’s Day, what it means to me. I know he’s watching. To my wife and to my kids, to my mother, my brothers, and sisters, this is for daddy.”
Jordan’s parents watched their son become arguably the greatest player in NBA history. They also saw him be a model citizen and carry out the core values they taught him as a kid.