The Bulls draft Michael Jordan
Signing his first contract with general manager Rod Thorn Photo: Ray Foli/UPI via Chicago Tribune

June 19, 1984

On the day he was selected — as the third pick, lest we forget our good fortune — Jordan sounded modest in a TV interview: “I just want to go in and contribute the best way I could.” But as teammate Rod Higgins, quoted in ESPN’s The Last Dance, recalls thinking, “This cat is different.” Indeed. In leading the Bulls to six NBA championships, he enshrined the team and city in the annals of sports history, built himself into an iconic global brand, and gloriously justified the brazen inscription on his statue outside United Center: “The best there ever was. The best there ever will be.”

From the Archives

February 1989 issue
Photos: Michael Zajakowski

By the time he made our February 1989 cover, Jordan, then in his fifth season, was already, in the words of writer Ted Cox, “the most marketable player in the sport.” But a championship still eluded him.

“He is, by himself, a one-man team, clearly deserving of the MVP award, but in a league that is evolving toward deeper, more balanced play, he is something of an oddity — almost an albatross. How can a player so good treat others as equals?”