All-Star game marks latest milestone for Michael Jordan

File-This Feb. 10, 2007, file photo shows former North Carolina player Michael Jordan, left, giving his former coach Dean Smith a kiss during halftime of a college basketball game between North Carolina and Wake Forest in Chapel Hill, N.C. It’s well-known that Jordan uses failure to motivate him. The only thing seemingly that has eluded the 55-year-old Jordan is ultimate success as an executive and team owner. His Hornets have yet to win a playoff series since he took over as majority owner nine years ago and they remain marred in NBA mediocrity while struggling to compete in a small market. But Jordan wants to keep his team, and the city, relevant. It’s one reason he aggressively pursued the All-Star game with such vigor. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

Michael Jordan continues to do the unexpected; NBA All-Star Game the latest milestone for 'country boy' who grew up in Wilmington, North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Buzz Peterson knew Michael Jordan as well as anyone when they were in college.

Roommates and teammates at North Carolina, they spent countless days competing on the basketball court in practice and endless hours talking hoops. Their nights often included shooting pool and tossing cards in their Granville Towers South dorm room. There often were arcade games — before the home video game craze hit — at the Pump House on Franklin Street in downtown Chapel Hill.

But Peterson never saw this coming: His roommate becoming an NBA owner and hosting the league's All-Star game in his home state of North Carolina.

"You know, staring across the dorm room at him back then, no, I never would have thought this would happen," Peterson told The Associated Press.

Jordan didn't either.

"Frankly, no," Jordan said Tuesday in a news conference previewing the All-Star game. "Growing back up as a kid here in North Carolina, the first thing is play basketball. Then things just evolved from there."

While maybe unexpected, Peterson said he isn't shocked by what Jordan has achieved.

"Michael has always been very sharp, very smart," said Peterson, now an assistant general manager for Jordan's Charlotte Hornets. "He's a very good listener. He gathers information and opinions and then makes decisions. And once he makes the decision to go after something, he goes all out. He is absolutely driven to be successful in whatever he chooses."

The All-Star game will be played on Sunday — Jordan's 56th birthday.

"It's a constant reminder that I am getting old ," Jordan joked. "The All-Star game is always around my birthday and I wish it could be postponed a week."

The only thing seemingly that has eluded Jordan is ultimate success as an executive and team owner.

His Hornets have yet to win a playoff series since he took over as majority owner nine years ago and they remain mired in NBA mediocrity while struggling to compete in a small market.

But Jordan wants to change any negative perceptions of the Hornets or of Charlotte. It's one reason he aggressively pursued the All-Star game, hoping the showcase will help attract marquee players in the future. He said Kemba Walker being an All-Star game starter also helps.

"It's an illustration of the type of players we are trying to draft and grow from within," Jordan said. "So from a Hornets standpoint, that is on display this week . We have a lot of work to do and choices to be made to get to that (championship) level, but it starts with the presentation of what the city is all about — for other people to see and understand that this may be a small market but it is a unique city to be in, and that the fan base tremendously comes out and supports the game."

Dell Curry is expecting Jordan to go all-out for this weekend's festivities.

"He's excited for the NBA to come to his home state and play in the building of the team he owns," said Curry, the Hornets color commentator and former NBA player. "So he is going to roll out the red carpet. He only knows one way to do it, and that is big time."

Jordan's is known to embrace a challenge.

On the court, after not being able to make his school varsity as a sophomore, Jordan went on to become a two-time All-American, NCAA champion and the national college player of the year in 1984. He is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and won three straight NBA titles — and after a stint in minor league baseball — returned to the league and won three more.

Off the court, Jordan marketed his on-court success into a fortune.

"He has always had incredible determination — always," said Fred Lynch, Jordan's former junior varsity basketball coach at Wilmington's Laney High School.

Michael Jordan's older brother, James Jordan Jr., said it comes from their parents.

He describes Michael as a "country boy" who never lost sight of his work ethic. He was the youngest of the three boys who relished a challenge, and James Jr. said their parents, James Sr. and Deloris Jordan, always taught the boys to go after their dreams.

"Our parents taught us that you can achieve anything you want, but you have to have drive, that motivation — and you have to work hard at it," said James Jordan Jr., who now works as an executive for the Hornets after spending 31 years in the military.

Jordan changed the shoe game when Nike created Air Jordan, which he later spun off into the Jordan Brand.

Now, when fans see the Jumpman logo, they think of Jordan.

"I think it was easy to envision Michael doing anything at that point," said former Chicago Bulls teammate Steve Kerr. "He was conquering the NBA world as a player and as a shoe salesman and endorser, so I think we all just felt like the sky was the limit."

Forbes Magazine estimated Jordan's net worth in 2018 at $1.6 billion and Hornets president Fred Whitfield said he anticipates the All-Star game will have a $100 million economic impact on Charlotte.

It should all make for an entertaining weekend.

"I think when it's all over," James Jordan said of his brother, "he will sit back and relax and maybe smoke a cigar and say 'that was a great event,' and just be really proud of himself that he made it happen."

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

You may also like these

Young US archer Zach Garrett hits target on and...

Aug 10, 2016

There's another showdown looming between well-known Americans in the men's archery tournament

Fijians demand Olympic gold for spiritual home of...

Aug 11, 2016

When rugby sevens was added to the Olympic program for Rio seven years ago, there was an almost...

US beach player Patterson says he didn't blow off...

Aug 11, 2016

U.S. beach volleyball player Casey Patterson said he didn't blow off the post-match handshake with...

A-Rod told he won't play field Friday in final...

Aug 12, 2016

Alex Rodriguez has been turned down in his request to play the field for his final game with the...

After explosion, Spain basketball gets 1st win of...

Aug 12, 2016

Spain got its first victory of the Olympics, and almost nobody saw the beginning of it

Sign up now!