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What Jersey Number did Michael Jordan Wear?

Everyone has been watching The Last Dance and admiring Michael Jordan’s ability as one of greatest players to ever play basketball. The Last Dance follows Michael Jordan’s career with the Chicago Bulls, his baseball sbatical and then his second three-peat with the Chicago Bulls culminating in the NBA finals win of 1998. But what people might not of noticed is what jersey Michael Jordan wore during his basketball career. As Jordan wore more than the iconic number 23 jersey.

What jersey number did Michael Jordan wear? Michael Jordan primarily wore the number 23 jersey however, he also wore the number 12 for one game, the number 9 for the USA and the number 45 when he initally came back from retirement in 1995.

The below table highlights the jersey numbers Michael Jordan wore, the teams he wore them for and the dates that Michael Jordan wore these jersey numbers.

Michael Jordan NumberNBA TeamDates Worn
23Chicago Bulls26 October 1986 –
6 October 1993
12Chicago Bulls14 February 1990
45Chicago Bulls19 March 1995 – 7 May 1995
23Chicago Bulls10 May 1995 – 14 June 1998
23Washington Wizards30 October 2001 – 16 April 2003

We look through Michael Jordan’s career and see the jersey numbers that Michael Jordan wore, whether it was representing an NBA team, his country at the Olympics or his stint in baseball. We also explain one of the most important questions, why did Michael Jordan wear 23? So many top level athletes have followed in his footsteps, including Lebron James and David Beckham, we know why they chose 23… it’s the Michael Jordan number. But why did he choose it?

Why why was Michael Jordan number 23?

Michael Jordan chose to have number 23 as his jersey number when he played for Laney High School in North Carolina. It is believed that he choose the number because it was half the number of his brother Larry who wore 45. Jordan was fiercely competitive with Larry particularly when it came to basketball.

What number did Michael Jordan wear with at college in North Carolina?

Michael Jordan continued to wear the number 23 jersey at North Carolina. He he won an NCAA championship whilst wearing number 23 jersey. We know from Jordans later career that he was very brand aware from an early stage. It could well be that he chose to keep number 23 so people would be able to link it to him and his personal brand. Hey, 23! That’s the Michael Jordan Number!

What Jersey number did Michael Jordan Wear in the Olympics?

Michael Jordan first represented the United States at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. Due to the numbering of basketball jerseys for the Olympic games, Jordan was unable to wear his normal 23 jersey. The numbering of the Team USA jerseys went from 4-15, Jordan opted to wear the number 9 jersey. Team USA dominated the competition and Michael Jordan left with an Olympic gold medal.

Michael Jordan returned to the Olympics in 1992 as part of the USA Dream Team. Previously, only amateur players had taken part in the Olympics. However, the Dream Team was crammed full of NBA talent. Jordan wore the number 9 jersey again for the United States and won another gold medal.

What Jersey Number did Michael Jordan wear for Chicago Bulls (1984-1993)

Michael Jordan wore number 23 with the Chicago Bulls. The last person to wear the number 23 jersey prior to Jordan’s arrival at the Bulls was Ollie Mack in the 1980-81 season. The number 23 became symbolic with Jordan as a player. The number 23 was so iconic that it actually led to Michael Jordan having to wear a different jersey for just one game.

What number did Jordan wear when his jersey was stolen?

On Valentines Day in 1990, the Chicago Bulls were playing at the Orlando Magic. When Jordan arrived at the game his number 23 jersey was missing from his locker. Jordan’s jersey had clearly been stolen however, there was no replacement 23. In fact the only jersey that Chicago had for Jordan to wear was the number 12. As you can see from the picture above, 12 was Michael Jordan’s Number for this one special game.

When Jordan retired to play baseball the Chicago Bulls retired his number 23 jersey.

What Jersey Number did Michael Jordan Wear for the Birmingham Barons?

When Jordan left basketball for baseball he saw it as a new beginning and didn’t want his baseball career to be associated with the number 23. Therefore, Jordan decided to wear the number 45 to signify this new chapter. This was the same number he had worn to play Baseball in high school and the same number his brother had worn as a basketball player all those years ago.

What Jersey Number did Michael Jordan wear for the Chicago Bulls (1995-1998)

Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995 with the simple message, ‘I’m back’. However, unlike his baseball career Jordan did not choose a new number. Nor did he return his to 23 number as previously mentioned, the Chicago Bulls had retired the number.

Jordan wore the number 45 for 22 games, on his 23rd game Jordan reverted to the number 23. The change in jersey number was costly for the Chicago Bulls as they had to pay a fine for every game that Michael Jordan did not wear the number 45. This cost the Chicago Bulls an estimated $100,000 until the end of the season.

Why did Jordan switch back to number 23?

Jordan switched back to the number 23, despite league rules forbidding it for the most Michael Jordan reason ever. In his 22nd game back, a loss in the opening game of their 2nd round matchup vs the Orlando Magic. Jordan had a poor game (by his standards) to the delight of his oponent Nick Anderson. Anderson who had stripped the ball from Jordan in the closing moments to help seal the game let loose to the media afterwards claiming that number 45 wasn’t the same as number 23.

Jordan, being Jordan, showed up to the next game in his retired 23 Jersey and dropped 38 points as he led the Bulls to the win in Florida. Anderson thought he had Michael Jordan’s number. He did not.

What Jersey Number did Michael Jordan wear for the Washington Wizards

Following the attacks on the 11th September 2001, Michael Jordan returned to the NBA and played for the Washington Wizards. Jordan donated his salary to the relief effort for victims of the attacks. Jordan continued to wear the number 23 jersey. When it was announced he would retire again, the Miami Heat retired the number 23 jersey, even though Jordan had never played for them.

What were Jordan’s wins by Jersey number?

Michael Jordan dominated the NBA for over a decade. He wore 3 different numbers. Below we show how he faired in each one.

Michael Jordan NumberJordan’s Win Percentage
2365.26
4576.47
120

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