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October 11, 2015

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Jordan reflects on career during China trip

AFTER 11 years, Michael Jordan, the NBA legend and king of basketball, visited China for the second time. As owner of the Charlotte Hornets, Jordan shared some unrevealed stories and thoughts in an exclusive interview.

China trip and Jeremy Lin

Jordan visited China only once in 2004, which caused a national craze. “Ah, 11 years ago,” Jordan, talking about the visit in 2004, said what impressed him most was the Chinese fans. “You know the fans, the way they were passionate about game of basketball. Obviously they remember me playing, I enjoyed spending the time there,” Jordan recalled, “it gives me an opportunity after 11 years going back. It’s kind of reconnecting with the fans based over there. Jordan Brand fans, Michael Jordan fans, so I’m looking forward to it.”

On October 11 and 14, Hornets and Clippers will play the NBA Global China Games 2015 in Shenzhen and Shanghai.

Jordan said that this year’s China Tour mainly includes two parts: one was to let the fans know better about the Hornets through the game, the other was to promote the Jordan brand, introducing what the brand really means to the fans.

As for Hornets’ prospects for the new season, Jordan showed his sober optimism. “They should be okay. We changed a lot of personnel. Everybody is excited I’m very excited but I don’t want to get overexcited.”

Jordan made specific mention of Jeremy Lin, who joined in the Hornets from the LA Lakers this summer. Jordan saw it a successful deal, “We just got Jeremy Lin, who I think is going to be our biggest acquisition. His penetration, his shooting capability, his point guard savvy, he can really pass the basketball, his energy about the game of basketball something,” Jordan said.

Imperfect basketball career

Six NBA championships, six NBA Finals MVP awards, 10-time NBA scoring champions, which is convincing enough to use “great” to describe Jordan’s achievements. Jordan led his team, Chicago Bulls, won two “three-peat” during the period of 1990-1993 and 1995-1998, creating an invincible “Bulls Dynasty” together with Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.

Jerry Sloan, the former respected head coach of Utah Jazz, once said that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird created an era which made NBA outstanding, and that as for Jordan, he raised NBA to a higher level.

However, Jordan’s career as a player is not perfect. Jordan retired with 6 championships after his last remarkable shooting in the summer of 1998 against Jazz in the Finals Game 6. He came back again in 2001, wearing No. 23 of the Washington Wizards.

Although the Wizards did not enter the playoff during that two years, Jordan had a 22.9 points per game in the first year and 20.0 points per game in the second year, ranking No.1 and No.2 respectively. Jordan, at his 40, played in all 82 games in his last season, making him the one and only in the Wizards. Like a superior king who is reluctant to abdicate the throne, the king of basketball scored 20 or more points 42 times, 30 or more points nine times, and 40 or more points three times.

As a retired player, Jordan said that he did not achieve what he intended to achieve in the Wizard time. “That was one of the disappointing things I mean. Initially I wanted to turn it into a winning program, we had different goals and we started off within. Some of the goals we met, some of the goals I did not get the chance to achieve,” Jordan said.

Although receiving some criticism, Jordan did not feel regretful about his comeback to join the Wizards. “I would never change anything that happened in my life because it’s a learning course and it’s a learning experience for me. So as much as I probably did not achieved all my goals in Washington, I have learnt from some of the things I did. Pro and con. And it helps me become a better owner and a better person.”

Jordan’s success derives from his desire to excel and unparalleled confidence, which, as he said, was an inborn instinct accompanying his growth.

“No point did I doubt my skills. As a basketball player, there are things I feel like I had to improve on, but in terms of confidence about me playing the basketball I never doubt that at all,” Jordan told Xinhua, even if when he entered NBA as a rookie in 1984, “Rookie? I always felt like I could play, I just need to learn, I considered myself the lowest on the totem pole but I know I have to work my way up, but I didn’t lack confidence at all. I lacked the experience.”

After two retirements and comebacks, in 2003, the greatest basketball player ended his basketball career. 12 years passed, the 52-year-old Jordan told Xinhua that his desire to excel never left. Although no longer dominant in the basketball court as before, Jordan found a new way to release competitive nature — golf.

“My competitive is just there. I wish I could still play but I can’t, you know physically. But I found other ways channel my competitive nature. I love playing golf, which is obviously something that you never really conquered, you know, one day you can have one day you can’t,” said Jordan .

“In business I can have competitiveness, things that I do, off the court I’m still competitive,” Jordan said. After leaving the court, Jordan also achieved huge success as a businessman. According to Forbes, Jordan earned US$100 million from Nike and other partners last year by Forbes’ count, more than any other retired or current athletes.

The Jordan brand, which is designed and produced for Michael Jordan, has become the fad indicator in the industry of sports products. Jordan said that he himself has always been involved in the products design. “Anything that have my name on it I’ll always have the proof of rights, design in terms of how it’s going to be utilized, how it’s going to be received. That’s something I totally value when we talked about the whole Jordan Persona. I want to be able to have input on everything utilized my name and my likeness.” Jordan said, “This is not something I’m just doing now, it’s something I’ve been doing for sometimes and I enjoyed doing it and I’ll continue doing it as long as I’m able to.”

His 2014 haul is also more than the US$94 million Jordan made in cumulative playing salary during 15 years playing for the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards. In 2010, he purchased a majority stake of Charlotte Bobcats (now is known as Charlotte Hornets), becoming the first former player ever to become the majority owner of an NBA team. It also made him the league’s only African-American majority owner. Now, with a net worth of a US$1 billion, Jordan joins in the Forbes billionaire club.

Jordan said that it was the game of basketball that gave him a chance to do a lot of different things and meet a lot of different people, affecting and inspiring them. “The game allowed me to touch a lot of people I probably would never be able to touch if I don’t play the game of basketball.”

Jordan said he hoped people looked at him from a lot of different aspects. “When you see Michael Jordan you are going to see him in the sense that he is very versatile. He adapted, he looked at challenges, he looked at things can make himself better and he worked hard at it. So I would like people when they look at Michael Jordan is an all-around, good person, good competitor, good businessman, good basketball player, all the above.”


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