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Chapter 7: 1983 Pan American Games


Last chapter: Birth of Air Jordan

The 1983 Pan American games was the first international competition Jordan participated in, a fact that is not widely known. A quick look at the other sites about Jordan, including NBA.com, found no mentions at all about these games.

The games were held from August 15 to August 27, 1983 in Caracas, Venezuela. Jordan competed in these games as a junior at UNC, the year he also won NCAA player of the year honors. The team was coached by Kansas State’s Jack Hartman, and featured future NBA standouts Mark Price, Wayman Tisdale, and Sam Perkins. Jordan finished the competition averaging 17.3 points per game.

Here is the video of the Gold Medal match between the U.S. team and the Brazilian team. The first half of the game is not shown, and both teams begin the second half with the game tied. Based on the commentary Jordan did not have a good first half but his play in the second half guaranteed a victory for the U.S.

Jordan did not have much of a chance to display his athletic ability as much playing against the zone defense of Brazil. But he did show off his creative abilities with the ball. This Gold Medal would be the first of many the Michael helps win for the United States.

Next chapter: 1984 NBA draft


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