Post Date: 02/15/2013

Michael Jordan mysteries

Shaquille O'Neal (really) tries to defend No. 45, Michael Jordan, in 1995. (Getty Images)As Michael Jordan turns 50, we’ll all be remembering the great moments of his career in the coming days. You know most of the good stories about Jordan’s life: no, he wasn’t really cut from his varsity basketball team; yes, he really did keep Isiah Thomas off the Dream Team. Here, however, are ten more you might not know:

1. What was Jordan’s childhood nickname?

Growing up, Jordan was called “black cat” by other kids. Tinker Hatfield, the designer of the Air Jordan III, completely unaware of the nickname, patterned the shoe after a black panther’s paw. The third generation of Air Jordans kicked the brand into a higher gear, paving the way for the brand’s continued iconic status, and the Jordan XIII would actually bear the "Black Cat" nickname.

2. Why did Jordan briefly wear #45?

Few athletes get to see their numbers retired by their team, and even fewer return to play once that jersey’s been hoisted to the rafters. When Jordan returned to the NBA in the 1994-95 season (with a two-word release: “I’m back”) he wore #45, the number he’d worn as a member of the Birmingham Barons, rather than his trademark #23. Jordan had originally worn #23 in high school because it was roughly half of 45, the number his older brother Larry wore, and he’d later worn the 45 his senior year of baseball. By the 1995-96 season, Jordan had switched back to #23.

[Related: Top 50 Michael Jordan moments: Nos. 36-23, including 'The Dream Team']

3. Did Jordan wear any other number during his NBA career?
For one game, Jordan wore #12. The story is this: on Valentine’s Day 1990, someone stole Jordan’s #23 jersey out of the Bulls’ locker room in Orlando. Jordan tried on a kid’s replica jersey, but it didn’t fit. Instead, he wore a nameless #12 jersey.

4. What name did Jordan use while in hotels on the road?
Players rarely use their own names in hotels; you don’t want to get a call from a home-team fan at 4am the night before a game. Jordan would use the name “Leroy Smith,” who was a childhood friend. Not coincidentally, Smith was the player who got the last varsity roster spot denied Jordan in high school. As he would do so often in his life, he used pain as motivation.

5. What did Jordan do in his first at-bat as a professional baseball player?
Jordan’s 1994 departure to play baseball still ranks as one of the strangest turns in sports history. The most famous athlete on the planet playing minor-league baseball? It made absolutely no sense. What made perfect sense, though, was that Jordan would have trouble switching to another sport. In his first at-bat for the Birmingham Barons, Jordan flew out; he would go 0-3 that game. He’d finish the season with a .202 average and three home runs over 127 games.

6. Are there really incorrectly-numbered Jordan statues all over the world?
Indeed there are, a tidbit Ball Don’t Lie brought to light several years ago. For some reason, there are various statues all around the world sporting a Bulls jersey but an incorrect "32" number. (Unlike 45 and 12, Jordan never wore this one.) There’s one that's shown up on Jimmy Kimmel’s show, another in Dubai, another in Scotland, and in Texas, these bizarre versions:

Uh ... hook 'em Jordan?

Why do these misnumbered Jordan statues even exist? That’s a separate question, and one which we don’t know, so we didn’t ask it above.

7. Did Jordan really have a “love of the game” clause in his contract?
He did. Most athletes are forbidden from pursuing any activities which could potentially injure them, and that includes recreational basketball games. But Jordan overrode that by getting a clause in his contract allowing him to play anyone, anywhere, anytime. More recently, Kevin Durant has been following in Jordan’s Air Jordans, but most basketball players can’t get anywhere near a rec game without violating their contract.

[More: Top 50 Michael Jordan moments: Nos. 50-37, including Nike 'marriage']

8. What’s Jordan's golf handicap?
Like most of his other non-basketball endeavors, Jordan is better than you’d expect but not as good as he thinks he is. He plays to a handicap of 4, which puts him among the better players at your local course but still light-years from even the worst professional golfers. Thankfully for all of us, Jordan didn’t ever try to follow in the embarrassing footsteps of Jerry Rice and play in a professional golf tournament. But he remains a presence in the golf world, most notably as vice-captain on Fred Couples’ 2009 Presidents Cup international-competition team.

Yes, this happened.9. What was Jordan’s pregame meal of choice?
It would horrify 21st-century nutritionists, but Jordan’s pregame meal was a steak cooked medium, a baked potato, a green salad and water or ginger ale. Seemed to work well enough.

10. Was Jordan really on an '80s hip-hop song?

This one is truly terrifying: Jordan appearing on “Everybody Use Your Imagination,” a song by the justifiably-forgotten ‘80s hip-hop girl group Hot Butterfly. (You can hear it here.) Put it this way: Hot Butterfly was the Harold Miner to Salt-n-Pepa’s Michael Jordan. On the 1987 song, MJ does a spoken-word intro and outro, and the four ladies of Hot Butterfly sport Jordan-branded gear. We'd ask how something featuring the imprimatur of the world's best-known athlete could vanish without a trace, but we think you can figure it out for yourself.

Happy birthday, MJ. Hope you still consider us your pals after that Hot Butterfly thing.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

Post Date: 02/07/2013

The Air Jordan III Retro ’88 Sneakers Will Be Available Soon

Submitted by on February 6, 2013

The time has finally come! After two months full of rumors, unofficial photos, and a whole lot of hype, the Air Jordan III Retro ’88 sneakers will finally be available later today. That’s right. The same sneakers that Michael Jordan wore during the 1988 NBA Slam Dunk Contest when he soared from the free-throw line to beat Dominique Wilkins will now be available once again to help the Jordan Brand celebrate the 25-year anniversary of MJ’s classic dunk. And, as we told you last month, they’ll be available in their original form with the large “NIKE AIR” branding on the heel of the sneaker.

To help get you amped for the release of the AJ III Retro ’88, Jordan finally put out an official image of the sneaker earlier this week to show you what you’ll be getting when you order a pair. The AJ III Retro ’88 features the iconic elephant print on both the heel of the sneaker and the toe cap, a mostly-white upper, red lining inside the tongue of the sneaker and a red Air Jordan logo on the front of it, and, again, that “NIKE AIR” branding that everyone has been talking about in recent weeks. That branding has been replaced by the Air Jordan logo on other AJ III retro sneakers, so it’s exciting to see it back again.

As we’ve also told you, this AJ III Retro ’88 will cost you a pretty penny, if you’re lucky enough to land a pair. It’ll retail for $200 and will be available in extremely-limited quantities so, once way or another, you’re going to end up paying an arm and a leg for it. But, if you’re interested in trying your luck, the AJ III Retro ’88 will be available today at 4:51 p.m. through both the Nike Store and Eastbay. Will you be logging in to try and order a pair for yourself? Or, is the $200 price tag that comes along with these just too much for you to pay for a pair of sneakers?

Post Date: 02/01/2013

The Adidas Basketball 2013 “All-Star” Collection Sneakers Will Be Available Tomorrow

Submitted by on January 31, 2013 – 10:44

Recently, we gave you a sneak peak at the Nike Basketball “All-Star” Collection, featuring the sneakers that LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Durant will be wearing during this year’s NBA All-Star Game. But, it’s important to remember that the Nike LeBron X, Nike Kobe 8, and Nike KD V aren’t the only hot sneakers that will be dropping in time for the All-Star Game. In fact, Adidas is the company that will actually be making the All-Star uniforms this year, so it’s only right that they put out some new sneaks as well. And, that’s exactly what they’re planning to do with the Adidas Basketball 2013 “All-Star” Collection that hits stores tomorrow.

Although their marquee player Derrick Rose won’t be playing in the All-Star Game this year because of his knee injury, Adidas is still going to go ahead and push their other popular sneakers to the forefront during All-Star Weekend. So, they’ve created a special makeup of the Adidas D Howard Light that Dwight Howard will wear during the big game. And, they didn’t stop there. Adidas has also created All-Star versions of the Adidas adiZero Crazy Light 2 and the Adidas Crazy Fast. All three sneakers are available in both green and red and feature a unique camouflage pattern on the upper part of the sneakers.

If you’re interested in copping a pair of these, you won’t have to wait until NBA All-Star Weekend tips off on Friday, February 15 to get your hands on a pair. Instead, Adidas is making these available through all Adidas retailers on February 1. So, what do you think about what Adidas has done here? Do you like this “All-Star” Collection more than the one that Nike released? Or, will you be holding out until mid-February when you can get your hands on other special “All-Star” sneakers? Check out the collection below, and then let us know in the comments section.