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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Jordan: A career in four acts
By Alex Trickett

Michael Jordan at his peak for the Chicago Bulls
Michael Jordan moved to the Chicago Bulls from University

Michael Jordan's basketball career breaks neatly into four parts, split by a brief spell playing baseball for the Birmingham Barons.

He is most famous for his dazzling exploits at the Chicago Bulls, with whom he won six NBA titles.

But the Jordan story starts a little further back in North Carolina...

Act one: University of North Carolina, 1981-84

A 6ft 6in high-school graduate from Wilmington, Jordan is recruited by nearby college UNC, where good - not great - things are expected of him.

Games: 101
Points: 1,788
Average 17.7
Rebounds/game: 5.0
Asissts/game: 1.8
MVP: '84
NCAA title: '82

He joins soon-to-be NBA stars James Worthy and Sam Perkins in the Tar Heels team and makes an immediate mark by sinking the championship-winning jump-shot against Georgetown at the end of his first year.

Although UNC fail to repeat that feat in his next two seasons, Jordan's scoring average leaps from 13.5 to 20 points per game.

His stock soars accordingly and, when he signs up for the NBA a year early, he is snapped up third in the draft behind the legendary Hakeem Olajuwan and Sam Bowie.

Act two: Chicago Bulls, 1984-93

The Chicago Bulls inherit a shooting guard, the like of whom has never been seen before in the NBA.

Games: 667
Points: 21,541
Average 32.3
Rebounds/game: 6.3
Asissts/game: 5.9
MVP: '88, '91, '92
NBA title: '91, '92, '93

With a scoring rate to rival Jerry West, explosive moves reminiscent of Dr J, and one of the best defensive games around, Jordan settles in quickly.

His slam-dunk from the free-throw line wows Americans from every walk of life, and he notches 37 points per game in 1986.

But, surprisingly, it takes his "Airness" seven years to land an NBA title.

When he does so in 1991, with help from Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, it signals the start of a Bulls dynasty.

Interval: Birmingham Barons, 1994-95

Upset by his father's murder, Jordan quits basketball for the first time, opting to make a go of a baseball career instead.

His record with the minor league Barons is not good, however.

It takes him 354 games to hit a home run and he finishes with a lowly .202 batting average.

Act three: Chicago Bulls, 1994-98

His "Airness" is welcomed back to the Bulls set-up like royalty, but things do not go to plan immediately as Chicago crash out of the play-offs to Shaquille O'Neal's Orlando.

Games: 263
Points: 7,736
Average 29.4
Rebounds/game: 6.1
Asissts/game: 4.1
MVP: '96, '98
NBA title: '96, '97, '98

Any concern is premature.

The next year Jordan, his old pal Pippen and new signing Dennis Rodman hit top gear and the Bulls canter into the play-offs winning a whopping 88% of their games.

They scoop the title and retain it twice more thanks to heroic displays by their number 23.

In 1997, Jordan plays through the pain barrier, almost collapsing on court to set up his fifth NBA championship.

He is back the following season, stripping Utah's Karl Malone and drilling a title-winning jump-shot, before retiring for the second time.

Act four: Washington Wizards, 2001-03

Washington Wizards part-owner Jordan keeps the world's media guessing for months before selling his shares in order to relaunch his playing career.

Games: 111 (to 12 Feb)
Points: 2,333
Average 21.0
Rebounds/game: 5.6
Asissts/game: 4.6

Worshipped at every NBA venue, Jordan makes up for diminished numbers by inspiring his young team-mates to some good win streaks.

His Wizards miss out on the play-offs in 2002, but he continues to pile on the personal milestones, bursting through the 30,000-point barrier.

Jordan's final All-Star game takes place in Atlanta and he fittingly dunks himself into the record books again, surpassing Kareem Abdul-Jabar's aggregate total with 262 points.

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