Michael Jordan, also known as His Airness, turns 53 today. Not only did he change the face of basketball, but he also influenced what every kid has rocked on their feet since his rise to greatness over 20 years ago. His talent and perseverance have inspired many after him to reach for the stars as well, which has only made the game of basketball that much more entertaining.
We celebrate his birthday with 23 facts that only the most hardcore MJ fans would ever know.
1. The Miami Heat retired his number out of respect, even though he never played on the team.
2. Growing up, he always preferred adidas to Nike.
3. In 1997, Jordan told InStyle that he gets a manicure every 10 days and a pedicure once a month.
4. His $168M divorce is the second most expensive in sports history.
5. During a game of golf, MJ clowned President Bill Clinton by saying, “You’re going to play from the little girls tees?”
6. He majored in Cultural Geography while at UNC.
7. He ate the same meal before every game: a 23-ounce steak, a baked potato, and a ginger ale.
8. During the 1997 NBA Playoffs, Jordan walked into Washington’s locker room with a lit cigar and asked Wizards players, “Who’s going to check me tonight?”
9. He picked up his trademark “tongue out” habit from his dad, who had a similar quirk while doing mechanical work.
10. Jordan once ran up a $1.25M gambling debt in a single day of golf.
11. Out of respect for Nike, Jordan placed an American flag over the Reebok logo on his ’92 Olympic warmup suit.
12. He never actually had the flu during the “Flu Game.” His sickness came from a bad takeout pizza.
13. In 1989, MJ had a short-lived local TV show called Michael Jordan Airwaves.
14. He originally hated his first signature sneakers, calling them “devil shoes.”
15. Contrary to popular belief, he was never actually cut from his high school basketball team.
16. His original shoe deal with Nike was only worth $2.5M over five years.
17. He was the first athlete in history to become a billionaire.
18. When his sneakers were first produced in 1984, they were exclusively for Jordan. They weren’t released to the masses until 1985.
19. Jordan wrote a love letter to his high school sweetheart that you can read here.
20. Michael Jordan donated his first year salary with the Washington Wizards to the recovery effort and victims’ families of 9/11.
21. Michael Jordan’s best friend is the limo driver who picked him up when he arrived for the first time in Chicago.
22. He was wearing New Balance sneakers in the original Jumpman photo.
23. Jordan has an Omega Psi Phi tattoo on his chest, which represents the fraternity he joined while at UNC.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter