Michael Jordan is the name back on sports fans’ lips following the release – and universal success – of hit Netflix series The Last Dance.
The show details the rise of Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during the early 90s, culminating in an electrifying ‘last dance’ season as the team approached the end of their glory days together.
Not only was Jordan a success on the court, but he became a global phenomenon off it with surging Air Jordan shoe sales and his iconic Number 23 seared into NBA fans’ minds – but why did he wear 23 and why did he switch numbers?
Why did Michael Jordan wear number 23?
Jordan took up the number 23 jersey from an early age dating back to his time at Laney High School. His older brother Larry was already on the team with the number 45, so Jordan simply halved the number to reach 23 – with the help of a little rounding up.
He continued to don the 23 for the University of North Carolina where he made a name for himself and ultimately earned a shot at the NBA in 1984.
He joined the Bulls and kept his shirt number for nine years, though he was forced to wear number 12 for a game after his traditional jersey went missing prior to a game.
Why did Michael Jordan switch to number 45?
Jordan retired from the NBA in October 1993 following the murder of his father several months earlier. He stated that he had lost the desire to play the game and couldn’t continue. He went on to play Minor League Baseball for a spell.
The Bulls retired the number 23 shirt in honour of Jordan in 1994, but he pulled another shock move. “I’m back” declared Jordan as he returned for the final stretch of the 1994/95 season. He wore the number 45 during that season, his brother Larry’s old number.
However, following a couple of uncharacteristic errors, a famous Magic Johnson quote: “No. 45 doesn’t explode like No. 23 used to” inspired Jordan to return to his old number 23, and silenced the critics with a dazzling end to his career.