One of the most iconic basketball players of all time, Michael Jordan waved goodbye to the NBA for good in 2003. But the star certainly hasn’t been twiddling his thumbs since leaving the court. He’s pursued various charitable and business endeavors, for example. And Jordan has been kept even busier by a new addition to his family.
Michael Jordan played his last game in the National Basketball Association in 2003 with the Washington Wizards. Sadly, though, it wasn’t exactly a triumphant send-off. His team was defeated 107-87 at the First Union Center by the Philadelphia 76ers. “It’s tough to play a game when it’s not quite as much emphasis on the game other than to see how Michael Jordan ends his career,” the star later admitted to The New York Times.
Of course, this wasn’t the only time that Jordan had retired from the sport that launched him to fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams. He first announced he was quitting basketball in 1993 following the tragic murder of his father. Jordan subsequently enjoyed a brief spell with minor league baseball team the Birmingham Barons in a bid to fulfill his late dad’s greatest ambition.
Jordan’s baseball career never really took off, however. And in 1995 he returned to the NBA, where he boosted his reputation as a sporting genius even further with the Chicago Bulls. Once his contract ended three years later, though, he announced his retirement for the second time. But the lure of the basketball court again proved to be too strong, and in 2001 he signed with the Washington Wizards.
The ensuing two-year stint with the Wizards didn’t bring Jordan the success he was used to, however. Nonetheless, he’d already established himself as a basketball great with his play in the previous two decades. Indeed, Jordan first caught attention way back in the mid-1980s when he signed with the Chicago Bulls from his university team, the North Carolina Tar Heels.
Blessed with an ability to leap higher than any of his fellow NBA stars, the shooting guard soon acquired the nickname of Air Jordan. Although he became a firm fan favorite due to his prolific scoring rate, Jordan was also regarded by many as one of the game’s finest defensive players. However, he had to wait until the early 1990s to pick up his first major championship.
And after finally lifting the NBA title with the Chicago Bulls in 1991, Jordan couldn’t stop winning trophies. He helped the franchise defend their championship for the following two years, in fact. In addition, after returning to the Bulls following his brief detour into the baseball world, he guided them to yet another astonishing “three-peat.”
Alongside his six NBA titles, Jordan also earned many individual accolades over the course of his glittering career. Indeed, the star broke the all-time records for scoring titles and NBA Finals MVP Awards. And as of early 2020, he still holds the records for the biggest career scoring average in both the playoffs and the regular season.
Jordan was also hailed by ESPN as North America’s greatest 20th century athlete in 1999. In addition, he finished runner-up to Babe Ruth in a similar poll held by the Associated Press. The star has twice been inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, firstly as an individual in 2009 and then six years later as a member of the U.S. 1992 Olympic team.
Famously, Jordan pursued various other endeavors while establishing himself as a basketball great. His brand of Air Jordan sneakers for Nike is just as popular today as it was on its 1984 launch. And he also enjoyed box-office success as the star of 1996 live-action/animation hybrid Space Jam.
Unsurprisingly, then, Jordan didn’t just sit back counting his millions of dollars following his final NBA retirement. In fact, he initially wanted to stay on with the Washington Wizards as director of basketball operations. But concerns about the inconsistent results of his earlier front-office tenure led franchise chief Abe Pollin to have other ideas – and he subsequently dismissed the basketball legend.
Jordan then switched his focus to other areas. He became a regular on the charity celebrity golf tournament circuit, grew into a keen motorcyclist and further developed his Jordan Brand apparel company. In addition, Jordan even founded his own team, Michael Jordan Motorsports, which participated in the MotoAmerica Superbike contest up to 2013.
But Jordan couldn’t keep away from the NBA for too long. In 2006 he invested in one of its franchises, the Charlotte Bobcats, and was given the post of managing member of basketball operations as a result. Only Robert L. Johnson, the principal owner, now had a bigger stake in the Bobcats than Jordan.
Moreover, Jordan had ambitions to become the majority owner himself, and in 2010 his group MJ Basketball Holdings agreed a deal with the Bobcats to make this happen. Following endorsement from the NBA Board of Governors, Jordan became the only ex-NBA player ever to hold such a position. It meant he was the sole African-American to be an NBA franchise’s majority owner at the time, too.
Jordan soon courted controversy in his new role, however, when he fronted a group of approximately a dozen majority owners who had one goal in mind. They believed that the share of NBA players’ basketball-related earnings should be capped at 50 percent – at the very most. FoxSports.com’s Jason Whitlock subsequently described Jordan as a “sellout,” claiming that the star was simply expecting “current players to pay for his incompetence” as an owner.
Moreover, things didn’t get much better for Jordan on the court over the course of the 2011-12 campaign. Indeed, the Charlotte Bobcats’ winning percentage of .106 was officially the lowest since the NBA began. Despite selling part of the franchise to Daniel Sundheim and Gabe Plotkin in 2019, though, Jordan remains the majority owner.
Away from the basketball court, Jordan has become a notable philanthropist. Alongside his first wife Juanita, he donated $5 million in 2006 to Hales Franciscan High School in Chicago. The star has also brought in a similar amount as a chief wish ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And he’s given money to the likes of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity as well.
Jordan continued to display his generous streak in 2017 when he donated a whopping $7 million to two family clinics North Carolina. Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Florence a year later, the sporting hero also pledged $2 million to the same state’s relief efforts. Of course, these seven-figure sums still barely left a dent in Jordan’s bank account.
Indeed, in the summer of 2010 Forbes ranked Jordan at No.20 on their list of the world’s most powerful celebrities. The magazine claimed that the star had raked in more than $50 million in the previous 12 months alone. And four years later Jordan was declared the first ever NBA star to be worth one billion dollars.
What’s more, Jordan has only continued to become richer. His net worth, as of February 2020, is reported to be close to $2 billion. This figure places him fourth on the list of the wealthiest African-Americans behind businessmen David Steward and Robert F. Smith, and talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey.
The NBA great has shared his colossal wealth with several loved ones over the years. Jordan first walked down the aisle in 1989 with Juanita Vanoy. The pair later welcomed three kids into the world: Jeffrey, Marcus and Jasmine. And the two boys would go on to follow in their father’s footsteps.
Indeed, in 2007 Jeffrey made his debut on the college basketball circuit. He spent three years with the University of Illinois team before moving to the University of Central Florida. This was the same school attended by his brother Marcus, who also went on to enjoy three seasons of collegiate basketball.
Sadly, though, by this point their parents had gone their separate ways. Jordan and his wife Juanita had first filed for divorce in 2002. However, they initially managed to patch up their differences and spent a further four years together. Juanita later received the celebrity world’s biggest ever divorce settlement in 2006: a whopping $168 million.
But despite losing a chunk of his significant fortune, Jordan wasn’t deterred from saying “I do” for a second time. In 2011 he asked Yvette Prieto, an American-Cuban model he’d dated for several years, for her hand in marriage. Two years later the pair wed at a ceremony in the Florida town of Palm Beach.
What’s more, in 2014 Jordan became a father for the fourth time when his wife gave birth to identical twin girls Ysabel and Victoria. And five years later, at the age of 55, he was a granddad. In 2019 his oldest daughter and her boyfriend Rakeem Christmas, himself a basketball professional, welcomed a son into the world.
Jasmine Jordan, a graduate of Syracuse University, and her partner Christmas revealed the news with several super-sweet Instagram posts. Firstly, the former uploaded a picture in which a baby boy’s hand can be seen tightly grabbing her finger. Jasmine captioned the photo, “Just in time. I love you son” and concluded with the hashtag #1stMothersDay.
Rakeem decided to be a little more creative with his Instagram post. The basketball star uploaded a Family Guy-inspired image of himself, his wife and his newborn son posing in a basketball top emblazoned with Syracuse 25. “I don’t know what I did to deserve you and our awesome kid, Happy 1st Mothers Day!” was his message to Jasmine.
Jasmine and Rakeem had revealed their engagement almost a year before the birth of their first child. The former has also called herself and her partner “Mr. and Mr. Christmas… seriously” in her Instagram posts. However, it isn’t yet certain whether they’ve actually walked down the aisle together.
Heartwarmingly, Michael Jordan couldn’t stop gushing about being a grandfather for the first time. In October 2019 he gave an interview to NBC’s Today in which he described the joy of spending time with the tot, named Rakeem Michael Christmas. “It’s fun, because I can actually hold him and play with him, and I’m having fun watching him,” Jordan said.
And what does Jordan think of his grandson’s distinctive name? “It’s actually beautiful,” he told Today’s Craig Melvin. His daughter Jasmine had previously hinted that she would be honoring the former Chicago Bulls star in her first-born’s name after sharing baby shower photos on Instagram that featured the initials RMC.
And the birth of Rakeem Jr. appears to have inspired his grandfather to further embrace his generous side. Speaking about his charitable efforts, Jordan said, “My purpose for doing it is because I see a certain need. I feel a certain warmth about it. If I feel like I’m making a difference, that’s all that matters to me.”
Jordan also admitted that he’s become more aware of the world’s wider issues since leaving the NBA. “When I was playing, my vision and my tunnel vision was my craft. I was a professional basketball player and I tried to do the best I could,” he said. “Now I have more time to understand things around me, understand causes, understand issues and problems and commit my voice, my financial support, too.”
Rakeem Jr. also received a shout-out when Jordan gave a speech at an October 2019 event in Charlotte. Speaking about the two health clinics he helped to fund in the area, the star told the crowd, “I stand here before you as a proud parent, son, obviously a member of this community. My mother, my brothers, my daughter, my grandson, we all represent the name Michael Jordan.”
In fact, the NBA icon struggled to hold back the tears as he explained how much his family and community means to him. “You see my name,” he added. “But yet you see a lot of people behind me and the commitment, especially from my mom, about caring for other people and being a part of a community that matters.”
“I think the partnership goes a long way in providing needs to this community here, [to] less than fortunate people,” Jordan told the crowd. “The money doesn’t matter, the name really doesn’t matter. It’s the commitment that I partnered up with unbelievable partners to see a need within this community.”
And just a few months later, Jordan made headlines for another heartfelt speech. Sadly, on this occasion it was a tribute to the close friend who’d just lost tragically his life. Jordan described Kobe Bryant as a “like a brother” after the basketball icon died alongside his daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter accident.
“I am in shock over the tragic news of Kobe’s and Gianna’s passing,” Jordan revealed in an official statement made just a day after the incident that shocked the world. “Words can’t describe the pain I’m feeling. We used to talk often, and I will miss those conversations very much.”
An emotional Jordan then went on to further sing the late basketball star’s praises, adding, “He was a fierce competitor. One of the greats of the game and a creative force. Kobe was also an amazing dad who loved his family deeply and took great pride in his daughter’s love for the game of basketball.”
That same week Jordan traveled to Paris with the Charlotte Bobcats for an NBA game against the Milwaukee Bucks. And he openly admitted in an interview with The Athletic that he’s unsure whether he’d make the same impact in the sport if he was just starting out today. “I think you’ve got a lot of different descriptions of how I would play against these guys,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I would make my adjustments.”
“I think the game would still be played with a sense of passion,” Jordan continued. “I don’t think the passion in the game of basketball has changed. I think the talent’s changed. I think the versatility has changed. Now, would I have had as much success? We’ll never know. I’ll let you guys speculate on that. But I think my passion for the game would’ve been the same. I love the game of basketball.”