The basketball world rightly associates No. 23 with Michael Jordan. No. 45 also played a short role during his 1994-95 comeback season as well—as detailed recently on ESPN’s The Last Dance.
But do you know The Goat once donned No. 12 on Valentine’s Day 1990?
The Orlando Magic hosted the up-and-coming Bulls that evening. Both teams provided a rousing 135-129 Magic overtime win, a perfect love letter to basketball fans.
However, someone had a funny way of professing his or her love for MJ by stealing his customary No. 23 jersey.
The team and arena security staff frantically searched in vain to find the culprit. The Bulls then resorted to using a spare red road uniform with a black 12 and no name adorning the back.
The arena’s announcer introduced “No. 12, Michael Jordan!” to surprised fans.
Would this break from routine effect MJ, who famously wore his old North Carolina baby blue shorts under his game attire? No way!
Air Jordan ran the break, drove the lane, dunked with authority, and swished his signature turnaround fadeaway jumper to a game-high 49 points on 21-for-43 shooting. He added seven rebounds, two assists, and a block.
“I don’t give a damn about the way that I played,” Jordan told the St. Petersburg Times following the loss.
MJ loved basketball so much that he poured his heart out to win every performance. Regardless of an odd throwaway reserve jersey that’s gotta be worth more today than the regular old No. 23 that somebody stole that night.
Bob Bajek is an award-winning investigative journalist and TBW staff writer who has extensive experience in news and sportswriting for various outlets including Bleacher Report, The Chicago Tribune and Pro Football Weekly. He firmly believes Drake spread the Gospel of Steph before his official coming… and fans need to forgive the Warriors after providing free tacos for four NBA Finals.