Outside the Lines... Still a Big Fan of Michael Jordan

By Jeff Holt

Published in The Burg July 15, 2021


Getting a vacation in the newspaper business is extremely tough. Especially, at a small newspaper.

In fact, I've always said that you need to go at least five states away for it to feel like a "true" vacation.

Luckily, I did just that last week with a trip to North Carolina. It started out with a visit to see my nephew who graduated from Duke University, and then we ended up in Wilmington - the hometown of basketball legend Michael Jordan.

The big highlight for me was getting to see the display of Jordan and visit with the locals who worked at the Cape Fear Museum of History and Science. Remember, down south, his last name is often pronounced Joaden (not Jordan).

"He comes back (to Wilmington) quietly and doesn't make a lot of noise about it," said Ike Winton, in his 19th year of working at the museum. "When he's here, he almost always makes a stop by the high school (Laney High School) and makes some type of donation or does something for the school."

Added Winton, "He almost always goes out with some of his old high school friends and plays golf. He doesn't make a big splash about it. If you are not in his inner circle, you probably would not even know he was even here. His very first paycheck was here (on display) when he was bussing tables down here (in Wilmington). It was right around $100 - somewhat different than his paycheck is nowadays."

Kate Baillon, who also works at the Cape Fear Museum in Wilmington, also took some time to talk about the impact that Jordan has made in the community.

"He (Jordan) came here after Hurricane Florence (in 2018) and set up in the parking lot," Baillon said. "He just gave away food and household goods. He didn't say anything about it."

It's that part of "giving back" and remembering where he came from that impresses me even more as I get older.

* * * * * * * *

The Best: Some of the basketball historians can say that Oscar Robertson is the greatest basketball player of all time because he averaged a triple double. Some of the recent NBA fans can say LeBron James.

I'll still take Jordan.

The Shot: Growing up, I'll always remember watching Jordan as a freshman at the University of North Carolina for Coach Dean Smith and hitting that baseline jumper in the final seconds of the 1982 National Championship game. I still love watching the video of that game-winning shot.

The die-hard fans of Jordan also remember that big shot he made in 1989 against the Cleveland Cavaliers ... the famous jumper from the free-throw line. You could go on and on.

MJ and education: Basketball aside, I just respect Jordan as a person.

After his junior year at the University of North Carolina (in 1984), Jordan left to play in the NBA. He promised his mother he would return to college one day and earn his degree. He kept his promise. And in 1986, while healing from a broken bone in his foot, he returned to UNC and got a degree in Geography.

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