Happy 55th birthday Michael Jordan! Arguably the best basketball player to ever step onto the court, what hasn't he done in his sports career at this point? Hall of Famer, six-time NBA champion, two-time olympic gold medalist, team owner, brand ambassador—the list never ends.
Trying to compile all of his greatness into a five-part list isn't easy, but we'll do our best. In celebration of his birthday, let's take a look at five reasons why he is sport's biggest certified G.O.A.T.
5. Olympic Career
Jordan has played on two olympic teams: the 1984 olympic squad as an amateur and 1992 unit where he was famously a part of the "Dream Team." Both easily won gold and to this day, MJ, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin remain the only men's basketball players to win olympic gold medals as both an amateur and professional.
4. 'The Final Shot'
It was Jordan's final shot as a Chicago Bull and it was one of his clutchest ones. Game 6 against the Utah Jazz in the 1998 NBA Championship game, Jordan capped off a 45-point night by crossing up defender Byron Russell and sinking a game-winning two-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to earn his sixth and final title. The commentary adds to the drama, and although we would see Jordan again when he came out of retirement three years later to play for the Wizards, that moment was the culmination of his clutchness that made No. 23 such a spectacle to watch throughout his career.
3. Post-Career Influence
Stepping away from the game, Jordan left a legacy that even today's greats like LeBron James try to emulate. His jumpman logo is an icon in the sports fashion world, he is an owner of the Charlotte Hornets and of course, a Hall of Famer. Recently retired legend Kobe Bryant once said in an interview with B/R's Howard Beck that what made him so great is that he copied Jordan "damn near 100 percent of the technique, damn near 100 percent."
2. Perfect Finals Record
Although most would say his toughest battles came in the Eastern Conference leading up to the finals, Jordan's six-for-six record in championship games is still miraculous. In all of those series, the teams he led never saw a game seven, and he was a unanimous MVP for all six. He also never scored less than 20 points in any of those finals games. Take away the clutch moments and you have a guy who did exactly what he was expected to do and more. The moment was never too big for him.
1. The Flu Game
Then there comes the intangibles that don't show up on a state sheet. It's the will, the passion and the drive that made MJ such a memorable player and person. He had that "it" factor that no matter what the circumstance, you just knew he was going to be the one to come up big even with the odds stacked against him. In the 1997 Finals against the Jazz, His Airness dropped 38 points in 44 minutes to lead the bulls to a 90-88 win and 3-2 series lead all while suffering from an illness that would land most of us in a hospital bed hooked up to an IV. It's one of the best moments in his career and defined him as a true champion.