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Archive for Friday, July 8, 2005

Here comes heir to ‘Air’

Michael Jordan’s son making name for himself

July 8, 2005

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— Jeffrey Jordan needs no introduction at the Nike All-America Camp.

The contagious smile, penetrating stare and determined look on his boyish 16-year-old face resemble the features of his world-famous father, Michael, and offer proof that young Jeffrey is the true heir to the Air Jordan legacy.

For Jordan, who will be a junior at Loyola Academy College Prep near Chicago, that will be a challenge. His father is considered by many to be the greatest player in NBA history after leading the Chicago Bulls to six titles, filling the highlight reels with breathtaking dunks. It also was Michael Jordan who turned Nike from a budding shoe company into a worldwide giant.

Following in those footsteps could intimidate most kids. Not Jeffrey, an all-conference selection as a sophomore.

"To me, he's just my dad," Jordan said.

If there was any doubt about the lineage, he wears it proudly on the front of his T-shirt: J-O-R-D-A-N.

But Jordan has come to Indianapolis to prove one thing - that he, too, can play basketball.

"I want to show that I belong here," he said. "I guess I'm not the top one or two or three or four players in my state, but I want to show that I can play here, and that I'm not just a name."

Comfortable in spotlight

Jeffrey Jordan, left, of Highland Park, Ill., drives to the basket during a game at the Nike All-America Camp. Jordan, the son of retired NBA legend Michael Jordan, was playing Thursday in Indianapolis.

Jeffrey Jordan, left, of Highland Park, Ill., drives to the basket during a game at the Nike All-America Camp. Jordan, the son of retired NBA legend Michael Jordan, was playing Thursday in Indianapolis.

Jordan realizes he's different. He stands just 6 feet - six inches shorter than his dad - weighs 170 pounds, and still remembers the times he attended Bulls practices as a child and watched his father play with an unforgettable fierceness.

Already, Jordan is under scrutiny. As Michael Jordan's son, expectations are higher than normal, reporters already are asking about his vertical jump, and it's virtually impossible to hide even when he's playing with 120 of the top prep players in the world.

"That's the greatest basketball player's son," said Jai Lucas, Jordan's roommate this week.

Just two days into the weeklong camp, Jordan already has become the camp's darling.

Everywhere he goes, fans and reporters follow, hoping to get a sneak peek at the younger Jordan and gleam any clue they can about whether he can someday approach his father's greatness.

Being in the spotlight hardly fazes Jordan. Dealing with dozens of reporters, a rare occurrence for someone not ranked among the best of the 2007 class, he answered questions like a pro - laughing, smiling, joking and telling stories while deftly avoiding the temptation to give away any family secrets.

Just one of the guys

Yet Jordan, who has some Division One schools showing interest in him, is intent on carving out his own niche.

His number, 32, is a reversal of his father's more familiar 23. He turned down an invitation to attend last year's Nike camp because he didn't think he was ready and, this year, Jordan hopes to use the camp as his coming-out party. He glides smoothly without the ball, looking for a chance to put his father's advice about playing fundamentally sound to work. But he may never avoid the questions.

Jeffrey Jordan shoots during warm-ups before a game at the Nike All-America camp. Michael Jordan's son was one of the dozens of players trying to make names for themselves Thursday in Indianapolis.

Jeffrey Jordan shoots during warm-ups before a game at the Nike All-America camp. Michael Jordan's son was one of the dozens of players trying to make names for themselves Thursday in Indianapolis.

"The most common question? Well, that would be whether I was in 'Space Jam,"' he said, referring to the animated film starring his father and several Looney Tunes characters. "I wasn't. The next most common question from kids is whether I live in a big house. I tell them, 'Well, yeah,' and they're like, 'Oh man, I wish I could be you."'

Jordan has no choice although there certainly are times he rather would be just one of the guys.

This camp at least gives him a chance. Lucas is the son of former NBA player and coach John Lucas. Jonnie West is the son of Hall of Famer Jerry West and sons of other former players, such as Patrick Ewing Jr., have preceded him at the Nike camp.

But wherever Jordan goes, he still has the target on his back.

"Everybody wants to dunk on him because he's his son," said Matthew Bryan-Amaning, a 6-foot-9 English player who grew up watching Jordan's father. "But you don't really think that way when you're playing. You just want to play your best basketball."

Jordan even acknowledges there have been times he's felt opponents have wanted to "take him out" so they could brag about it to their friends.

'That's my dad'

Off the court, though, Jordan tells of a family life that seems about as regular as most father-son relationships.

There are regular debates about the new minimum age limit for the NBA Draft - Michael, who made Kwame Brown the first prep player ever chosen No. 1, supports it; Jeffrey resents it. And then there are the one-on-one contests, which Jeffrey said have become less frequent as his father ages.

"Sometimes he let me beat him, other times he would just try to block my shots," he said. "I beat him once, but he's getting older now, so maybe I could beat him."

But Jordan insists it was always his decision to play basketball, though his father did shield him from playing on the national level at an early age.

These days, they chat about what works about his game, what doesn't work and what it will take for him to succeed at the next level.

But wherever Jeffrey Jordan ends up, he knows this: He will never escape his father's image.

"I'm as competitive as he is, I'm just quieter about it," he said. "But that's my dad, and it's pretty easy talking about him."

Comments

Dean Royal 9 years, 5 months ago

I feel for this kid. There's no way I could live in his shoes. Too much pressure, attention and expectation. He's just a kid...

bobo 9 years, 5 months ago

i don't feel sorry for him at all, he's rich and his dad is micheal jordan. a lot of kids envy the position he's in. please save your sympathy for somebody that really has it bad.

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