Chapter 2: Love and basketball
When it came to basketball, older brother Larry was the more talented one of the family and Michael’s biggest opponent. Larry, being taller and stronger, would beat the smaller Michael in all their 1-on-1 games, frustrating Michael to no end. But the losing only sparked Michael incredible competitiveness, and prompted Michael to work extra hard to beat Larry.
The JV player
When Michael was 15, he grew to 5’10”, 2 inches taller than Larry. After the hard work he put in, he was now able to defeat Larry. He also joined the JV team at Laney high school. Larry was still a big influence on Michael’s at that point. Larry wore number 45 for the Laney high school Buccaneers, and since Michael wanted Larry’s number but couldn’t have it, he divided the number by 2, rounded up, and got his number 23.
I want to be tall
Contrary to popular belief, Michael was never cut from his high school team. That was a piece of fiction meant to make a good story, similar to the PEZ story about Ebay. Michael was already a member of the JV team when the varsity team needed more players for the upcoming playoffs. Michael tried out along with his best friend Leroy Smith. Michael felt confident that he would be chosen.
Although Michael was very skilled, the varsity team was looking for size and maturity and selected Leroy (6’4″) over Jordan (5’10”). Michael was shocked. It was a major disappointment and a turning point in Michael’s career. He vowed to never let such a thing happen again and completely committed himself to becoming the best basketball player he can be.
After the disappointment at the tryouts, Michael pleaded with his parents to be tall. His parents saw how desperately Michael wanted to be tall and told him to be tall in his thinking, and that the tallness was inside him. Luckily for Michael, he didn’t need to rely on just thinking. He grew 5 inches between his sophomore and junior year, becoming the only one over 6 feet in his family, and started the next season standing tall at 6’2″. As Michael outgrew Larry, Michael began to dominate Larry in their 1-on-1 basketball games. And those skills honed on the practice courts quickly translated into great performances for the varsity team.
Here is a video about Michael playing at Laney high school and his path to the University of North Carolina. The video is well researched and has great information on Jordan’s high school career.