Michael Jordan‘s name carries weight all across the world among several generations. You don’t have to watch a second of NBA coverage to know the Chicago Bulls legend completely changed the course of basketball, on and off the court.
But he’s not the only Michael Jordan to become a professional athlete. Men with the same moniker have also made it to the NHL and NFL with varying degrees of success.
Michael Jordan’s NBA career
Jordan wasn’t just a once-in-a-generation talent; he was a one-man culture setter for the game and widened the scope for how celebrities can impact the lives of fans.
The pre-MJ NBA was a different place. The fledgling league was saved by the stardom of Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. A prevalent thought was that all great teams prioritized interior scoring. A legendary career highlighted by six championships and five MVP awards ushered in a new era of perimeter-based basketball.
But winning alone isn’t enough to make someone a global icon. The way Jordan dominated is what made him so beloved. Decades after his peak, videos of his greatest plays still amaze thanks to his unreal athleticism.
His Airness also played with an ultracool, confident, and intense charisma that made the Jordan experience unlike anything else in sports. He was a real-life superhero (who sometimes punched his teammates in the face).
Jordan’s personality also made him the perfect pitchman for many products. Fans most famously love his partnership with Nike and signature line of Air Jordan shoes. His fortune is now in the billions, and he owns several businesses, including the Charlotte Hornets.
Michael Jordan’s baseball career wasn’t great, but it was better than many remember
Jordan’s stint in the minor leagues is mostly viewed as a joke, but that perception is undeserved. His stats are mostly in line with the performances of most minor leaguers playing that season.
Jordan gradually improved as he got more accustomed to the game. He never lived up to his basketball career. But he had a real chance of making it to the MLB if he stuck with it for more than a year. It’s also important to note that Jordan didn’t switch sports out of vanity. He did it because he needed an emotional escape from his life at the time.
The heights of his celebrity left him feeling claustrophobic and exhausted after winning three straight titles. The murder of his father James Raymond Jordan Sr. pushed him to retire from the NBA to spend time with his family. Jordan chose to play baseball to honor his father, who was a huge fan of the sport and always wanted to see his son on the diamond.
A different ‘Michael’ Jordan spent time in the NHL
A few players have been referred to as the “Michael Jordan of Hockey” over the years, but only one person can truly claim that title.
The Carolina Hurricanes drafted Michal Jordan in the fourth round (105th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft. After spending time in developmental leagues, the Zlin, Czech Republic, native made his NHL debut in February 2013. It took Michal a year to score his first professional goal, hitting the back of the net against the Ottawa Senators.
Michal returned to the AHL at the start of the 2014-15 season, becoming the captain of the Charlotte Checkers. In 2016, he left the States to join the KHL and has played there ever since, first with AK Bars Kazan for a year and the following three with Amur Khabarovsk in Russia.
Michal has also represented the Czech Republic in numerous international tournaments including the 2018 Olympics and Ice Hockey World Championships.
Michael Jordan’s NFL career is off to a solid start
The Michael Jordan who made it to the NFL has more in common with his ice rink counterpart than the NBA GOAT.
Michael was a four-star guard prospect in Canton, Michigan, before attending Ohio State. He immediately made good on his talent at the collegiate level. Michael was the first true freshman to start on the Buckeye O-line in 23 years. He started every game for them between 2016 and 2018. After a junior year where he joined the second-team all-Big Ten Conference, Michael declared for the NFL draft.
He was selected in the fourth round (136th pick) by the Cincinnati Bengals, starting nine games as a rookie. He started 10 games the next year but was cut by the team before the start of last season. The Carolina Panthers quickly picked up Michael. He started 10 games for them in 2021.
It must be weird for these players to live with the same name as the NBA’s all-time best player. But credit to them for pursuing their dream in spite of the pressure and jokes that come with being named Michael Jordan.