Which player was Michael Jordan's second violin

NBA - Michael Jordan in College for North Carolina: One Bang and Many Disappointments

Before Michael Jordan took the NBA by storm, the GOAT made headlines in college for North Carolina. As a freshman, a litter made him known across the country, but after that it left some disappointments under the guidance of coaching icon Dean Smith. It starts with part one of the Jordan Week on SPOX.

Michael Jordan's star didn't just rise in the NBA, but a few years earlier. While the league was slowly gaining popularity thanks to Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, college basketball was still king. The 1982 championship game between North Carolina and Georgetown achieved a Nielsen rating of 21.5 (around 17 million viewers); only six college games achieved better TV ratings.

Also present: Jordan, who was just 19 years old, who only played third violin behind Senior James Worthy and sophomore center Sam Perkins. Georgetown was also excellently cast, including the later Knicks legend Patrick Ewing and guard Eric "Sleepy" Floyd, who was one of the best players in the country.

Jordan with game winner in the 1982 championship game

Worthy, who played his last game for UNC, stood out with 26 points, but the big moment of the game was reserved for the youngster. 57 seconds before the end, the Hoyas took the lead with 62:61, a few seconds later coaching legend Dean Smith took the time out.

The tar heels then did not seek the way to the basket, instead they fitted the ball around the perimeter. It looked like the fear of the last throw. A fear Michael Jordan didn't know. With 18 seconds left on the clock, Jordan got the ball on the wing, stepped up to jump and net! It should be the game winner because Floyd made a devastating turnover a little later. A freshman had decided the college championship.

Worthy was still voted Most Outstanding Player, but the hype about Jordan slowly started rolling. A small guard from North Carolina had finally thrown his name into the ring that evening at the Superdome in New Orleans.

UCLA wasn't interested in Jordan

Scouting high school players was even more difficult in the early 1980s. Access to talent highlights was limited, leaving many undetected. This was also the case with Jordan for a long time. The young Michael, who was kicked out of the squad in high school and only became a dominant player thanks to a surge in growth, did consider his home university of North Carolina, but preferred two other universities.

"I always wanted to play for UCLA, that was my dream," Jordan once said in an interview with the playboy. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of college legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton. Jordan's second choice was Virginia, who had a top pick in their ranks two years later in Ralph Sampson.

But here too there was initially a lack of interest, which is why Jordan personally applied to Virginia for a basketball scholarship. The answer? Virginia simply returned an official application form.

"The best high school guard I've ever seen"

Jordan was a nobody in basketball America at the time. Even the Tar Heels were only partially convinced of the Shooting Guard (they were more likely to be impressed by his strong academic performance) and invited Jordan to their summer camp in the summer of 1980 to see if he was even worth a place on the team.

The camp was led by Assistant Coach Roy Williams, who is now the main person in charge of the tar heels on the bench. "I let the kids play for an hour and was impressed by him," the coaching legend later recalled. "A coach asked me if anyone was available and I replied that I had seen the best high school guard ever."

Jordan also became better known in national circles. At a prestigious invitation tournament, the Five-Star-Camp, he excelled again and in his final year of high school Jordan put on a triple-double. So it came as no surprise that Jordan was invited to the McDonalds All-American game. He shone there too, MJ placed 30 points.

Title with Worthy and Perkins

In the meantime, numerous universities such as Duke, Virginia, Syracuse or South Carolina were on the guard, but with the help of his parents, Dean Smith was able to convince Jordan that UNC would be the right choice for him.

"Smith was the perfect coach for me," Jordan would later say. "He made sure that I stayed on the ground, but still drove me to perform at my best." As a freshman, Jordan was initially overshadowed by Worthy and Perkins, who also became established NBA stars.

The Tar Heels had the best record in the history of the program with 32-2 (the record is still valid) and eventually won the title. Another was not to follow for Jordan in Chapel Hill. Although the tar heels were a big favorite in both years and Jordan won numerous individual awards, the NCAA tournament always suffered sometimes surprising defeats.

Disappointments as a leader

1983 was the quarterfinals against tournament newcomer Georgia, a year later North Carolina was eliminated as top seed against Indiana (with the German center Uwe Blab) even a round earlier.

The defeats gnawed at Jordan, especially the one against Georgia. Jordan had decided to take a little break for the summer, but Williams once again caught his guard in the hall completely sweaty. "I can't afford a break," said Jordan. "We lost, I have to keep getting better."

That drive was what got Smith so excited. The coach was known to write letters to his players at the end of each season explaining how they can improve over the summer. Jordan received such letters too.

In their third year of college, the Tar Heels team was arguably more talented than ever. Next to Jordan were Perkins, Sophmore center Brad Daugherty and a freshman guard named Kenny "The Jet" Smith in the roster. Anything other than the title would have been a disappointment - but that's exactly how it turned out.

Indiana's coach Bobby Knight already cheated Jordan in the Sweet 16. The Guard only got 13 points out of the field at 6 of 14, David knocked Goliath out of the tournament with a 72-68 win.

Michael Jordan: His stats in college

seasonGamesMinutesPointsFG%ReboundsAssists
1981/823431,713,553,44,41,8
1982/833630,920,053,55,51,6
1983/843129,519,655,15,32,1

Jordan wanted to stay a fourth year

It was the inglorious end of Jordan's college career, though he could have stayed for another year. He probably wanted that too, but Coach Smith convinced his star player that the NBA was the next logical step. He was proved right, the Chicago Bulls took third place - the rest is history.

What remains is a college title including the throw to victory, but back then as a role player. As a leader, however, MJ failed twice, much as the Bulls should have for many years. Still, the years weren't lost.

With Smith, he had a mentor at his side who prepared him as best he could for the NBA and set the course for Jordan to be in the position of becoming the best basketball player of all time.