We all know and remember when Michael Jordan came back to basketball, wearing the 45. This here is the strange story of when he wore no. 12.
31 years ago on Valentines’ Day, Jordan and his Bulls were in Orlando to face the Magic. The game went to overtime, with Michael Jordan scoring 49 points on 43 shots. The W, however, went to the Magic by a 135-129 margin, as Scottie Pippen came a cropper.
The game was further foiled for MJ by the fact that he couldn’t wear his favored jersey number 23. This was because it had been stolen – presumably by a member stadium personnel.
Michael took the floor wearing a number 12 Bulls jersey with no name. This had little effect on his personal play, but superstitious as MJ was, it definitely had a psychological effect.
Why was the Michael Jordan jersey stolen?
Sam Smith, the Bulls beat writer for Chicago Tribune at the time, revealed the course of events of that jersey heist:
“We always assumed it was just some clubhouse worker. Back then the locker rooms were open to everyone. Celebrities were always in there pregame and postgame getting autographs from Jordan.”
“I remember refs at times getting autographs from him pregame. It was another time. By 5:45, when players began arriving, the jersey was gone without a trace.”
Rodney Powell, the Magic’s Director of Team Operations, revealed the course of events thus:
“One of their personnel had set up a plan to get the jersey, had actually gone through another locker room, climbed over the ceilings, came through a ceiling tile, grabbed the jersey, put it back in the ceiling. Planning for, I guess, a few days later to come back and get it after thinking no one would figure it out.”
31 years ago today, MICHAEL JORDAN wore #12 because his jersey was stolen.
Security searched the Orlando crowd & MJ wanted the game delayed until it was found.
He scored 49 (21/43 FG) in the loss.
The jersey was found days later in the ceiling.pic.twitter.com/kiS0Voqmw1
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) February 14, 2021
Jordan was visibly frustrated by this act that one could only perceive as a hostile one. Speaking before the game, he said:
“That has never happened to me before. It’s pretty irritating because you’re accustomed to certain things and you don’t like to have things misplaced.”