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Michael Jordan leaps from the free-throw line for a perfect-score dunk in the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.  MJ turned 51 today. (Walter Iooss Jr./SI)

GALLERY: SI’s 100 Best Michael Jordan Photos

Michael Jordan leaps from the free-throw line for a perfect-score dunk in the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest.  MJ turned 51 today. (Walter Iooss Jr./SI)
GALLERY: SI’s 100 Best Michael Jordan Photos

On Feb. 7 1994, four months after shocking the sports world by retiring from basketball on the heels of three consecutive NBA Championships, Michael Jordan took it even further by signing a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox.  After 18 months and a .202 career batting average, Jordan retired from baseball and returned to the Chicago Bulls, where he won three more championships. (John Iacono/SI)

GALLERY: Michael Jordan: Ballplayer

On Feb. 7 1994, four months after shocking the sports world by retiring from basketball on the heels of three consecutive NBA Championships, Michael Jordan took it even further by signing a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox.  After 18 months and a .202 career batting average, Jordan retired from baseball and returned to the Chicago Bulls, where he won three more championships. (John Iacono/SI)
GALLERY: Michael Jordan: Ballplayer

Michael Jordan hits a fallaway jump shot to pass Wilt Chamberlain for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring as the Washington Wizards played the New Orleans Hornets on Jan. 22, 2003.  The basket, which gave Jordan 14 points with a minute left in first half, put Jordan’s career scoring at 31,420 points in his 1,032nd regular season game. (Andrew J. Cohoon/AP)

GALLERY: NBA’s All-Time Scoring Leaders

Michael Jordan hits a fallaway jump shot to pass Wilt Chamberlain for third on the NBA’s all-time scoring as the Washington Wizards played the New Orleans Hornets on Jan. 22, 2003.  The basket, which gave Jordan 14 points with a minute left in first half, put Jordan’s career scoring at 31,420 points in his 1,032nd regular season game. (Andrew J. Cohoon/AP)
GALLERY: NBA’s All-Time Scoring Leaders

Michael Jordan guards Len Bias during a Jan. 1984 game between Maryland and North Carolina.  Len Bias, who died two days after being selected No. 2 overall in the 1986 NBA Draft, would’ve celebrated his 50th birthday today (Nov. 18). (Manny Millan/SI)

Michael Jordan guards Len Bias during a Jan. 1984 game between Maryland and North Carolina.  Len Bias, who died two days after being selected No. 2 overall in the 1986 NBA Draft, would’ve celebrated his 50th birthday today (Nov. 18). (Manny Millan/SI)

Michael Jordan plays a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game on UNC campus in Chapel Hill in Nov. 1983. (Lane Stewart/SI)

GALLERY: Michael Jordan: The College Years

Michael Jordan plays a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game on UNC campus in Chapel Hill in Nov. 1983. (Lane Stewart/SI)
GALLERY: Michael Jordan: The College Years

closeup portrait of Michael Jordan’s right hand. (Walter Iooss Jr./SI)

A closeup portrait of Michael Jordan’s right hand. (Walter Iooss Jr./SI)

The 1990 Three-Point Shootout contestants gather before the contest. The participants include Reggie Miller, Jon Sundvold, Mark Price, Craig Hodges, Larry Bird, Bobby Hansen, Craig Ehlo and Michael Jordan.  Hodges would go on to win his second of three titles. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)

GALLERY: Classic NBA All-Star Photos

The 1990 Three-Point Shootout contestants gather before the contest. The participants include Reggie Miller, Jon Sundvold, Mark Price, Craig Hodges, Larry Bird, Bobby Hansen, Craig Ehlo and Michael Jordan.  Hodges would go on to win his second of three titles. (Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images)
GALLERY: Classic NBA All-Star Photos

Bulls rookie Michael Jordan drives to the hoop during a 1984 game between Chicago and Indiana. (Manny Millan/SI)

Bulls rookie Michael Jordan drives to the hoop during a 1984 game between Chicago and Indiana. (Manny Millan/SI)

North Carolina guard Michael Jordan glides in for a dunk during a 1983 SI photo shoot. (Manny Millan/SI)

GALLERY: Michael Jordan - The College Years

North Carolina guard Michael Jordan glides in for a dunk during a 1983 SI photo shoot. (Manny Millan/SI)GALLERY: Michael Jordan - The College Years

Michael Jordan rises up for a buzzer-beater to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 playoffs. Jordan hit a jumper with six seconds remaining to give the Bulls a lead, only for the Cavaliers to take it right back with a layup by Craig Ehlo with three seconds left. Jordan, double-teamed on the inbounds play, got just enough separation to receive the ball and get the shot off over Ehlo to win the first-round series in five games. (Manny Millan/SI)

GALLERY: SI’s 100 Best Michael Jordan Photos

Michael Jordan rises up for a buzzer-beater to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 playoffs. Jordan hit a jumper with six seconds remaining to give the Bulls a lead, only for the Cavaliers to take it right back with a layup by Craig Ehlo with three seconds left. Jordan, double-teamed on the inbounds play, got just enough separation to receive the ball and get the shot off over Ehlo to win the first-round series in five games. (Manny Millan/SI)
GALLERY: SI’s 100 Best Michael Jordan Photos

Michael Jordan rejects the New Jersey Nets’ Chris Gatling at the rim in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference playoffs first-round series in 1998. With Jordan scoring 32 or more points in each game, the Bulls made quick work of the Nets, eliminating them in three games. (John Biever/SI)

GALLERY: SI’s 100 Best Michael Jordan Photos

Michael Jordan rejects the New Jersey Nets’ Chris Gatling at the rim in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference playoffs first-round series in 1998. With Jordan scoring 32 or more points in each game, the Bulls made quick work of the Nets, eliminating them in three games. (John Biever/SI)
GALLERY: SI’s 100 Best Michael Jordan Photos

The Air Jordan I released by Nike in 1984. The shoe was banned by commissioner Stern for “non-regulation colors,” but Jordan nevertheless rocked the shoe during his Rookie of the Year campaign.

GALLERY: Air Jordans Through The Years

The Air Jordan I released by Nike in 1984. The shoe was banned by commissioner Stern for “non-regulation colors,” but Jordan nevertheless rocked the shoe during his Rookie of the Year campaign.
GALLERY: Air Jordans Through The Years

Michael Jordan glides in for a layup during the 2003 All-Star Game. Jordan, who started the game when Vince Carter gave up his starting spot, hit a baseline jumper with 4.8 second remaining in overtime to put the East up 138-136. Jermaine O’Neal ruined the fitting ending however, fouling Kobe Bryant on a three-pointer with one second left. When Bryant hit two of his three free throws, the game went to a second overtime for the first time in All-Star history. Kevin Garnett hit three jumpers in the post in the second bonus period and claimed the MVP honors as the West won 155-145. (Bob Rosato/SI)

GALLERY: Memorable All-Star Game Moments

Michael Jordan glides in for a layup during the 2003 All-Star Game. Jordan, who started the game when Vince Carter gave up his starting spot, hit a baseline jumper with 4.8 second remaining in overtime to put the East up 138-136. Jermaine O’Neal ruined the fitting ending however, fouling Kobe Bryant on a three-pointer with one second left. When Bryant hit two of his three free throws, the game went to a second overtime for the first time in All-Star history. Kevin Garnett hit three jumpers in the post in the second bonus period and claimed the MVP honors as the West won 155-145. (Bob Rosato/SI)
GALLERY: Memorable All-Star Game Moments

SI photographer Walter Iooss Jr. captures a pensive Michael Jordan during a SI photo shoot. (Walter Iooss Jr./SI)

SI photographer Walter Iooss Jr. captures a pensive Michael Jordan during a SI photo shoot. (Walter Iooss Jr./SI)

Michael Jordan drives to the hoop during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. (John Biever/SI)

GALLERY: Classic Photos of Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan drives to the hoop during his rookie season with the Chicago Bulls. (John Biever/SI)
GALLERY: Classic Photos of Michael Jordan