"My Michael Jordan Story"
A reader sends childhood MJ photos, while Magic Johnson shares a story from the night before "The Shrug." Yes: everyone has an MJ story.
Everybody has a Michael Jordan story.
It could be yours.
It could be your friend’s.
It could be Magic Johnson’s.
For Jess Obis, it’s her brother’s and mother’s.
One of my goals with my book is to show readers — especially those who weren’t around for the dynasty — what it felt like to live it in real time. Jess and I connected on Twitter, (here she is), and she was an early subscriber to this newsletter. She was also kind enough to email me a short story, and send some photos.
Above is her younger brother, Erik Joseph Gandy, meeting MJ at a McDonald’s charity event, in a photo taken by Jess’s mother Amy Zabel. Erik was born in 1984, and is about five years old in this photo, so based on Jess’s research and mine, we are pretty sure this photo is from July 5, 1989, at the Michael Jordan / McDonald’s Charity Golf Classic at Cog Hill Country Club in Lemont, Illinois, not far from Jess’s childhood home in Joliet.
Jess’s uncle, father and mother did work dressing up as McDonald’s characters, and that gave them an in for the event, which drew a bevy of celebrities, including Walter Payton and Ernie Banks — as strong of a Chicago sports trio as maybe could ever be.
I’ll let Jess take it from here:
Erik used to walk around, cute little thing, telling people Michael Jordan was his brother. When people were confused, he’d say “In God’s eyes, we’re all brothers.” We weren’t very religious, but that phrase sure meant a lot to him and it got a good reaction from people.
All I remember hearing is that the meeting maybe went something like this: MJ asked Erik if he wanted to play basketball when he grew up, and Erik was too stunned to answer. So MJ asked a follow-up soft ball: “Where’s your mom?” And Erik figured he could answer that one: he’s looking for her in this picture, and MJ spots her waving first. Snap!
Thanks for sharing Jess! Here is another photo from that day:
So yes, Jess Obis has her Michael Jordan story.
Magic Johnson has countless, I’m sure, and recently added another to the public record.
Game 1, 1992 NBA Finals. Six threes. The Shrug. I always knew MJ was shrugging at the man he called MJ — Magic Johnson, who was on the sideline as part of the NBC team calling the game.
What I did not know is what MJ and MJ were up to the night before.
A big thank you to Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson of Heavy.com for capturing this great story from Magic during All-Star Weekend in Chicago last month. When Robinson asked Magic for MJ memories, Magic shared a previously unknown backstory to The Shrug, noting that it was in part a reaction to a game of cards at Jordan’s house the night before.
The rundown from Magic, at the McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Event, (with video of MJ’s shrug-inducing performance here):
The night before he hit all them threes against Portland, we’re playing bid whist at his house. His dad and I, we busting him. We tore him up. … We play, and I said, ‘Michael, I gotta go home. You got a game.’ Because remember, I was working for NBC at the time. So I’m calling the game.
He says, “No, MJ.” Because Michael is so competitive. When he loses, he don’t want you to leave. So we play, and I said, “No, I’m going home to the hotel.”
Remember he shot, and he made four or five in a row, and remember, when he made that last one and he turned to the scorer’s table? He was turning to me. He was so hot that night, so he owed me a lot. Because I’m the one he was mad at. That’s why he took it out on Clyde Drexler the next day in the game.
Who else has an MJ story? Well, the late, great photographer Marc Hauser, that’s who. On Monday, subscribers to “A Shot on Ehlo” got a never-before-published interview I did with Hauser in 2013 about shooting Jordan and Dennis Rodman.
Hauser, who passed away in 2018, shared stories about what MJ and Rodman eat at photo shoots (one seven-pound beef tenderloin and loads of M&Ms and Gatorade for Jordan, two ten-piece buckets of Popeye’s Chicken for Rodman), and told the backstory of the famous Bigsby & Kruthers shoot with Rodman in 1996.
I also published some of Hauser’s photos that he shared with me in 2013. Get on board now!
Got a story about that time you met MJ? How about a story of meeting Scottie Pippen? Phil Jackson? Dennis Rodman? Horace Grant?
What about Keith Booth? Rusty LaRue? Corey Williams? Ed Nealy?
Did you meet Chuck Nevitt? Rory Sparrow? David Vaughn? The legend Matt Steigenga?
Send me your stories at email@example.com. Pass this along to your friends and family too. And by all means, send pictures!
One more time from Marc Hauser, because I love this one: