Monday, September 21, 2009

Air Michelle

1963 - Michelle Jordan is born in Brooklyn New York.

late 1960s - Michelle and her family move to Wilmington, North Carolina.

late 1970s-early 1980s - Michelle devotes all of her time to basketball, as it is the only high-profile varsity sport for girls offered at Laney High School in Wilmington. During her sophomore year she tries out for the girls' basketball team and makes the team with no problems. Michelle begins tallying up several 40 point games with the Laney High School junior varsity...before her growth spurt. She would average about 25 points a game in her senior year of high school.

1981-1982 - Michelle decides to attend the best program for women's basketball in her state - North Carolina State, coached by Kay Yow. She helps the Wolfpack to the Final Four as a freshman in the first year of the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

1984 - Jordan plays for the first United States women's basketball team to earn a gold medal.

1984-1985 - Having no reason to leave school early, Michelle manages to lead North Carolina State to a second NCAA Final Four appearance in her senior year. A close loss to Old Dominion in the semi-finals ends Michelle's basketball career.

1985 - An offer is made to Jordan after graduation to become the first woman to play for the Harlem Globetrotters. She declines and heads overseas.

1985-1996 - Without a professional league, Jordan spends most of her career in Spain and France, playing for an alphabet's worth of European teams. Her play is essentially unrecognized in the United States. Many of the greatest years of Michelle's career are played in small European gymnasiums.

1996 - While playing for Gran Canaria in the Liga Feminina in Spain, Jordan looks forward to playing in the American Basketball League. She is contacted by the NBA front office and told to wait for the arrival of the new WNBA. Jordan makes it clear to the ABL that she will not be participating.

1997 - Michelle Jordan is allocated to the Cleveland Rockers as part of the 16-player initial allocation draft of the WNBA.

1997 - In her first season in the WNBA, the 34-year old Jordan manages to lead Cleveland to an 18-10 record and a tie with Houston in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, Cleveland falls to Phoenix in the one-game WNBA semifinal. Cynthia Cooper wins the WNBA Most Valuable Player award; Jordan finishes second.

1998 - Cleveland finishes at 22-8 in the Eastern Conference after Jordan states that this is her final year at the beginning of the season. The goal is clear for Cleveland - get "Mama Jordan" a ring. This time, Cleveland makes short work of Phoenix, winning the semi-final 2-0 to face a Houston Comets team that finished 27-3.

In one of the great series of WNBA history, a last-second buzzer beater by Mama Jordan keeps Cleveland from getting swept and sets up a Game 3 in Houston. Jordan scores 29 points but it isn't enough as Houston takes it second straight WNBA Championship in the "Game of the Century". Jordan finishes fifth in MVP voting.

1999-2000 - Jordan takes a job in the front office at Charlotte but finds the actual behind-the-scenes work uninteresting. Charlotte's coaches and staff quickly learn that Jordan is more interested in going to the Cherokee Indian casino and playing slots that in any other work.

Before Jordan can be fired, Jordan decides to come out of retirement and signs as a free agent with the Washington Mystics.

2001 - It becomes painfully obvious to Washington that the 38-year old Jordan is not the player she used to be. Assigned to theoretically mentor younger players like Chamique Holdsclaw, Jordan is dismissive of Holdsclaw's obvious talent, making for an unhappy locker room. Jordan "leads" Washington to a 10-22 record in the Eastern Conference, good for sixth place. Claiming that injuries are bothering her, Jordan promises that next year will be better.

2002 - Jordan manages to provide spectators a few glimpses of the old Michelle Jordan, but not enough. Still, Washington finishes 17-15. However, Jordan does not pass the ball in Game Two of the Eastern Coference semi-finals - trying to do it all herself - and Washington loses to Charlotte. Supposedly, harsh words in the locker room are exchanged between Holdsclaw, Jordan and first-year Mystics coach Marianne Stanley. The Mystics come out listless in Game 3 and are eliminated by Charlotte.

late 2002 - Michelle Jordan retires for the second and last time. She is quickly disabused of any hope of working for the front office of the Mystics. She would later state that she felt "betrayed" by the Mystics.

2003 - Jordan picks up a job in the front office of the Sacramento Monarchs. When it becomes clear that Jordan's work habits have not improved, John Whisenant requests that Jordan be fired at the end of the season. The Monarchs job would be the final time Jordan works for a WNBA team.

2006 - Jordan keeps busy with promoting basketball instructional tapes and selling vitamins. In 2006, she is named by President Donna Orender as a "Goodwill Ambassador" of the WNBA. The job gives Jordan occasional opportunities to travel and provides a small stipend.

2009 - Michelle Jordan is named to the Basketball Hall of Fame. More attention is paid to the speeches of John Stockton and David Robinson, and ESPN inexplicably excludes Jordan from a induction photo. (She is later photoshopped back in.)

Only people who have been following women's basketball for a long time know who Michelle Jordan is. Most WNBA fans have not seen Jordan play. The Chicago Sun-Times includes a blurb about Jordan missing in the photo: "Jordan WHO?"


ATLDreamFan17 said...

I love these tidbits of info. Thanks Pet

Rebecca said...

This strange hodge-podge of Andrea Stinson, Lynette Woodard, Tamera Young, Michelle Edwards, Jennifer Gillom, Stacey Dales (or was the "betrayed by the Mystics" thing Mique?), and original flavor Michael Jordan makes my head hurt, but maybe that's because I'm laughing too hard. (Or being bitter. One of those.)

pt said...

Rebecca, you'll have to tell us your favorite "Air Michelle" moment, then. :D

ATLDreamFan17 said...

I took this at face value after glancing it over and made a comment. Upon a second look it makes sense. Thanks to Rebecca for pointing out all the references. Ill be sure to read between the lines next time :)