Skip to main content

When Michael Jordan was playing basketball, there were a lot of givens. He would always play to win. He would always be one of the most exciting players on the court. Jordan would also have his tongue sticking out as he was driving to the hoop. His tongue hanging out would become as iconic as his flashy dunks. He would later attribute his tongue hanging out to his late father.

Michael Jordan’s HOF career

Michael Jordan will go down in NBA history as one of the top, if not the top, players ever. Jordan was one of the most exciting and dominant players ever. Drafted third overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 1984 NBA draft, Jordan made an immediate impact with both the team and the league, winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award.

Jordan went on to win six NBA championships and was a 14-time NBA All-Star. He went on to win the scoring title for six seasons and he finished his illustrious NBA career with 32,292 points. As offensive-minded as people think Jordan was, he was almost as good on the defensive side of the ball. He was a five-time steals champion and made the NBA All-Defensive Team nine times. He was the Defensive Player of the Year in the 1987-88 season.

Jordan was so good that the Detroit Pistons tried numerous ways to stop him, and that included beating him up physically if it was necessary. “We knew Michael Jordan was the best player, and we tried to use it as a rallying cry to come together,” Thomas said. “We had to do everything from a physicality standpoint to stop him.”

Hard work and dedication fueled Jordan’s success

Michael Jordan wanted to win. He would do anything it took to accomplish his goal of winning and that meant working harder than anyone in the game. Jordan was tenacious and had an intense work ethic right from Day 1. His desire to get better and his desire to win never went unnoticed to his coaches, opponents, or teammates.

James Worthy, who played with Jordan at the University of North Carolina and went on to have a very successful NBA career with the Lakers, saw Jordan’s desire before he hit the pros. “After about 2.5 hours of hard practice, I’m walking off the floor, like, drenched (in) sweat, tired,” said Worthy. “And, here comes Michael pushing me back on the floor, wanting to play a little one-on-one, wanting to see where his game was.”

Jordan said he succeeded because he failed. It was his failure that drove him to get better. “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career,” Jordan said. “I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Michael Jordan credits his father with giving him that dedication

Outside of being able to jump out of the building and hit his classic fadeaway jumpers, Michael Jordan was also known for something else – his tongue. Whenever Jordan drove to the basket or whenever he was focusing on something, his tongue would be hanging out of his mouth. Jordan said that became a habit he couldn’t break.

Jordan said he developed the habit by watching his late father when he as a kid. Whenever he had to focus or concentrate on something in the game, the tongue would come out. He once addressed the tongue issue when he was a guest on the Arsenio Hall Show.

“Well, it’s an unconscious habit that I picked up from my father,” Jordan said. “Being a little kid and you’re watching your father work, he used to stick his tongue out, and I took it up and made it a habit. And now I can’t stop, I tried to stop, I tried playing with a mouthpiece in my mouth — just didn’t work, it didn’t feel natural.”