Michael Jordan didn’t become the intense competitor he was by watching his dad or mom work. He developed his competitive nature and love for basketball because of the confrontations he had with his older brother, Larry.
Before Jordan became arguably the greatest player in NBA history, he used to get destroyed by his brother in pick-up games. Those battles, while they were challenging at first, ignited every fire within the Chicago Bulls legend.
Michael Jordan: Man, my older brother Larry used to kill me
Jordan told SLAM Magazine in 1996 that his brother used to beat him all the time in basketball and verbally let him know about it while they were growing up in Wilmington, North Carolina. The losses fueled MJ to work harder.
“Man, my older brother Larry used to kill me,” Jordan said. “He was older and bigger than me. He would beat me, talk to me and not let me forget about it. What that did for me was make me work that much harder to beat him. He had no idea that I was going to end up taller than him. I look at my games with him as a great experience when I was young, because I developed my love for the game and it made me work harder to get better.”
In The Last Dance docuseries, Jordan said he always felt like he was fighting his brother for his father’s attention. The setbacks he endured against Larry motivated him to be as good, if not better, than his brother, and it’s safe to say he accomplished his goal.
Michael Jordan was a star in high school and college
Jordan played his high school basketball at Emsley A. Laney in Wilmington, North Carolina. He didn’t make the varsity team as a sophomore and thought about quitting basketball entirely. However, his mother convinced him to keep playing and work as hard as he could in the summer.
Jordan’s improvement from his sophomore year to his junior year was tremendous, and a lot of it had to do with his size. He was about 5’10” as a sophomore and came back around 6’3” as a junior. After having a special junior and senior season, Jordan was recruited by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and played three seasons at UNC.
In 101 games at North Carolina, Jordan averaged 17.7 points. He helped the Tar Heels win the 1982 National Championship over Georgetown by hitting the game-winning jumper with 15.0 seconds left in regulation.
After his junior season, Jordan declared for the NBA and was selected by the Bulls with the third overall pick in the 1984 draft. The rest, as they say, is history.
MJ is arguably the GOAT
Jordan played the first 930 games of his NBA career with the Bulls. During that stretch, he won five regular-season MVPs, one Rookie of the Year Award, one Defensive Player of the Year Award, 10 scoring titles, six championships, and six Finals MVPs. Chicago went 6-0 in the Finals during the Jordan era.
Black Jesus came out of retirement for a second time in 2001 to play for the Washington Wizards. He averaged 21.2 points in 142 games with them but missed the playoffs both years. Jordan officially retired from the NBA in 2003 and left the game as the all-time leader in points per game (30.1) and player efficiency rating (27.9).
In 2009, Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He thanked his family for their support, including Larry, who pushed him to be great at an early age.