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One-on-One with Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan sits down for an exclusive interview with Marvin R. Shanken, Editor and Publisher of Cigar Aficionado.
Marvin R. Shanken
From the Print Edition:
Michael Jordan, July/August 2005

As Cigar Aficionado magazine approaches 20 years in print, we are taking a look back at some of the most memorable stories we have published over the years. In this step back into our vaults, we go to 2005 when editor and publisher Marvin Shanken sat down with Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest basketball player of all time.

Michael Jordan may be the greatest basketball player in history. He led the Chicago Bulls to six National Basketball Association championships, twice doing it in three consecutive years. His season scoring average of 30.1 points per game is the highest in the league's history. And he won five Most Valuable Player awards, as well as making the all-league defensive team in nine of his 15 seasons. But Michael Jordan has become much more than a basketball player. Today, he is a sport icon, one of the best-known athletes in the world. His fame has transcended his sport and transformed him into a marketing mega-power. His Brand Jordan with Nike is approaching a $500-million-a-year business worldwide.

But now, two years after leaving the NBA and his final stint as a player with the Washington Wizards, Jordan has decided to speak out, not just about basketball, but his business goals, his personal pleasures and, most of all, his private life. He sat down in his Chicago-area home for a one-on-one interview with Cigar Aficionado editor and publisher Marvin R. Shanken to discuss his life, his achievements, his passions and dreams.

Marvin shanken, michael jordan, side
Marvin R. Shanken: What brought you more pleasure, playing for the North Carolina Tar Heels or the Chicago Bulls?
Michael Jordan: That's a good question. I would say it was for the Tar Heels. No one knew me until then. That's when the notoriety and everything began with Michael Jordan. By the time I got to Chicago, I was drafted three, so everybody knew I was at least decent.

But at North Carolina, when they recruited me and asked me to attend the university, it was an opportunity to prove myself. Up to that point, everybody had heard that this kid is pretty good, but we don't know how good. He came from a small town. He wasn't preseason All-American. He wasn't in the Top 100 High School kids. He didn't attend AAU games, and he was not a ranked player in the nation.

The University of North Carolina really gave me the foundation that it took to become a basketball player. Up to then, I hadn't been spoiled by the media spotlight. I was still raw. As a result, I had an appetite to prove to everybody that I was a decent basketball player, or a good enough basketball player to be at North Carolina. That was by far the purest experience for me, and the most satisfying.

MRS: Did you ever regret missing your senior year?
JORDAN: Yeah, because I had a great time in college. It was the first time I'd been away from home. I'd met new people and made new friends. It was an exciting time. It was just fun.

MRS: What was the rush to jump out early?
JORDAN: It was Coach [Dean] Smith's call. I relied so much on his knowledge. The NBA was an area where I wasn't too knowledgeable. My parents weren't knowledgeable about it, either. And it was a great opportunity. Coach Smith felt that it would be the best opportunity for me to make it in professional basketball. Once he researched the situation to find out where I would go in the draft, then I started weighing the pros and cons.

MRS: Wasn't that pretty unselfish of him, because it meant he would lose you the next season?
JORDAN: That was totally unselfish. It's the kind of person that he was. He could have said, "You should stay for your senior year. We have a great team with some great new recruits." Kenny Smith and Brad Daugherty were coming on. Our team was going to be really good. But he felt like for me, personally, going to the NBA was the best thing, and it was the best opportunity.

MRS: How exciting was it, going back this year, and watching North Carolina win the NCAA championship again?
JORDAN: I only went to one game in almost 21 years. One game at Notre Dame that I drove down for from Chicago in my second or third season with the Bulls. Other than that, I'd never been to a Carolina basketball game. To go there and see the tradition and see that everything was still the same was great. The camaraderie. The sport. The former players. The executives. Everything was the same. It was good for me to go back, and it was good for my kids to see. That's one of the reasons I went, was for my kids.


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Comments   1 comment(s)

Ron Comrie — Lakewood Ranch, Florida, United States,  —  December 26, 2012 1:49pm ET

Can you please tell me the name/style of the Movado watch Michael Jordan is wearing on the cover photo? Thanks.


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