SALT LAKE CITY — It has been 20 years since Michael Jordan last played in an All-Star Game, but his presence still hangs over the All-Star weekend in a city he tortured during his playing career. Right down to the kicks many players will wear on the court this weekend.
“I love Michael Jordan, but I wasn’t really born when he was playing,” Raptors star Scottie Barnes said, summing up the thoughts of a lot of the NBA’s younger generation. “But you just see the things that you see online. He was incredible, he was a killer on the court, he had the mental aspect. He had all the aspects of the game that you needed. He was he’s a legend.”
Happy Birthday, MJ 🐐 pic.twitter.com/XgOOoW2TZw
— Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) February 17, 2023
Bulls players, who play in the shadow of Jordan — almost literally, his statue is outside the United Center — understand his impact and told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago what he has meant to them.
“For me in my books, I always have MJ as the best player ever because without him, there’s nobody coming after him. He inspired us,” Zach LaVine said.
“I’ve said a couple times, he’s almost like a mythological creature. He almost didn’t exist. Some of his stats, you go back and look at his highlights, it’s like, ‘I don’t know if this guy was real.'”
“He gave so many generations something to chase after,” current Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan said. “I remember sticking out the tongue, doing the Jordan dunk, wanting to buy Jordans. Just everything about him culturally, the sport revolved around him, especially over the last 30 years.”
To celebrate his birthday, Jordan donated a historic $10 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which he has worked with closely since he was a player.
NBA Twitter was filled with tributes to Jordan as well.
Happy 60th birthday, Michael Jordan! 🇺🇸 #USABfamily pic.twitter.com/x7W4CLbezO
— USA Basketball (@usabasketball) February 17, 2023
Happy Birthday Michael Jordan 🐐.
Here’s his game winning shot vs Georgetown to bring UNC the championship. pic.twitter.com/ayzbdNZsCz
— College Basketball Report (@CBKReport) February 17, 2023
join us in wishing a happy birthday to Michael Jordan 🎉 pic.twitter.com/yTuAYOjist
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) February 17, 2023
Join us in wishing HAPPY BIRTHDAY to our Chairman, Michael Jordan! 🎉👏 pic.twitter.com/4yYWflLb3l
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) February 17, 2023
Michael Jordan turns 60 today.
Here he is cutting his Air Jordan IV cake on his 26th birthday in 1989.
The Air Jordan IV’s retail for $125, or $300 in today’s dollars. pic.twitter.com/sDblDgSIN0
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 17, 2023