Everyone knows Michael Jordan the basketball player. He even became a baseball player after briefly stepping away from the Chicago Bulls. But what about his career as an English teacher? While he may not have been certified, His Airness helped take someone’s English skills to new heights. In typical Michael Jordan fashion, he couldn’t resist putting money on the line.
Michael Jordan retired at the height of his powers
After nine NBA seasons, nobody questioned Michael Jordan’s status as the greatest basketball player in the world. By the time he finished his age-29 season, he had led the NBA in scoring in seven consecutive seasons. The Bulls superstar took home three NBA MVP trophies, including back-to-back honors to start the ’90s.
Jordan’s individual accomplishments resulted in tremendous success for the Bulls. With Scottie Pippen by his side, MJ led Chicago to three straight NBA titles. It appeared nothing could stop the Bulls from dominating the league for the rest of the decade.
However, everything changed after the murder of Michael Jordan’s father. Losing his dad led Jordan to abruptly retire from basketball before the 1993-94 season began. Instead of stewing in sadness, he tried his hand at another sport entirely.
His Airness took his talents from the court to the outfield
Despite retiring at the height of his powers, Michael Jordan still wanted to prove everyone wrong. Instead of dunking basketballs in front of millions of TV viewers, he relocated to Alabama to swing a bat in front of much smaller crowds. While his 6-foot-6 frame didn’t exactly lend itself to baseball, he worked tirelessly to hone his craft.
Jordan reportedly made the decision to switch sports as a tribute to his father. As a 31-year-old rookie in the minor leagues, he definitely experienced quite a change of scenery. Though he hadn’t played baseball for over a decade, the NBA superstar somehow had a 13-game hitting streak. Jordan’s stint with the Birmingham Broncos included 51 runs batted in and a .202 batting average. And while he did get caught 18 times, His Airness successfully stole 30 bases in 127 games.
Jordan taught a teammate English with an incentive system
Baseball proved to be quite a challenge even for an elite athlete like Michael Jordan. Yet, the biggest impact from his brief baseball career didn’t come on the basepaths. And it didn’t occur in the batter’s box or the outfield. Rather, as has been the case throughout the course of his life, Jordan helped someone better themselves. This time, he shed the label of multi-sport athlete in favor of Mr. Jordan, the English teacher.
According to The Athletic, Broncos prospect Rogelio Nuñez got a crazy offer from the NBA legend. Jordan challenged his teammate to spell “Mickey Mantle” for $1,000, but the Dominican native didn’t know where to begin. He barely knew English at all. That led to a creative and helpful proposition from Jordan.
“Everybody was like, ‘Come on, Nuñez!’” he said. “But I didn’t know how to start it. So Jordan said, ‘OK, from now on, every word that you spell to me, I’ll give you $100.’ I said, ‘It’s hard for me.’ He said, ‘We’re going to ease into it. I’ll give you a letter the day before. The starting letter. And it has to be about baseball.’ And that’s how it worked.”
Nuñez bought an English book and worked tirelessly to prepare himself for the challenge ahead. Ultimately, it paid off in more ways than one. Not only did the Dominican native learn English but he also claimed to have made about $2,500. It turns out that Michael Jordan may have been a better English teacher than a baseball player. Good thing he returned to basketball and won three more titles with the Bulls.