Michael Jordan on the Cover of This Week’s Sports Illustrated

MJCoverYears after he last took the court, Michael Jordan is still a major presence in sports culture. To celebrate the iconic superstar’s 50th birthday, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has placed Jordan on its February 18th cover for a record 50th time. In this week’s issue, Senior writer Phil Taylor (@SI_PhilTaylor) looks at Jordan’s lasting effect on basketball, and sports in general, and examines his recent stint as a basketball executive for the Charlotte Bobcats.

“Depending on your generation, realizing that His Airness is now eligible for senior discounts is like the first time you heard the Rolling Stones on an oldies station or saw Winona Ryder playing someone’s mom,” Taylor writes. (PAGE 36)

Jordan, who built his own brand and spoiled us with his heroic performances, now spends his days at his $12.4 million mansion in Jupiter, Fla., or his $3.2 million condo in downtown Charlotte. Taylor notes that Jordan still golfs and runs steakhouses, all while floundering as an executive for the Bobcats (Their .106 winning percentage last season was the worst in NBA History). However, players, and the general public, still want to be like Mike. Taylor says:

“How many times have we heard someone’s mastery by describing him as ‘the Michael Jordan’ of their field?” (PAGE 39)

As time goes on, should we look at Jordan in the same light as he appears more vulnerable? Taylor writes, “no one aspires to be the Michael Jordan of team owners.” (PAGE 40)

As with all media requests from Sports Illustrated since the beginning of his basketball hiatus, Jordan refused to be interviewed by the magazine. With the cloud of mystery, it’s almost impossible to know if the competitive fire is still within Jordan like it used to be. Taylor concludes:

“Happy birthday, Michael. As you blow out your candles, our wish for you is that something inside still burns. (PAGE 42)”

(In addition to Taylor’s feature essay, some of SI’s most esteemed writers wrote about their Jordan memories. S.L. Price, Alexander Wolff (@alexanderwolff) and Jack McCallum (@McCallum12) offer their experiences covering MJ, from his days at North Carolina until late into his career.)

Also in the issue: All 50 MJ covers; 50 reasons we’ll never forget him; and the perfect 50 dunk that sealed his legend.


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