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Early years

michael-jordan-north-carolina-collegeJordan was born in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Deloris (née Peoples), who worked in banking, James R. Jordan, Sr., an equipment supervisor. His family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, when he was a toddler. Jordan attended Emsley A. Laney High School in Wilmington, where he anchored his athletic career by playing baseball, football, and basketball. He tried out for the varsity basketball team during his sophomore year, but at 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m), he was deemed too short to play at that level and was cut from the team. The following summer, however, he grew four inches (10 cm) and trained rigorously. Upon earning a spot on the varsity roster, Jordan averaged about 25 points per game over his final two seasons of high school play. As a senior, he was selected to the McDonald’s All-American Team after averaging a triple-double: 29.2 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 10.1 assists.

In 1981, Jordan earned a basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina, where he majored in cultural geography. As a freshman in coach Dean Smith’s team-oriented system, he was named ACC Freshman of the Year after he averaged 13.4 points per game (ppg) on 53.4% shooting (field goal percentage). He made the game-winning jump shot in the 1982 NCAA Championship game against Georgetown, which was led by future NBA rival Patrick Ewing. Jordan later described this shot as the major turning point in his basketball career. During his three seasons at North Carolina, he averaged 17.7 ppg on 54.0% shooting, and added 5.0 rebounds per game (rpg). After winning the Naismith and the Wooden College Player of the Year awards in 1984, Jordan left North Carolina one year before his scheduled graduation to enter the 1984 NBA Draft. The Chicago Bulls selected Jordan with the third overall pick, after Hakeem Olajuwon (Houston Rockets) and Sam Bowie (Portland Trail Blazers). Jordan returned to North Carolina to complete his degree in 1986.

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