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Which Bulls Player Did Juanita Vanoy Date Before Marrying Michael Jordan?

Adit Pujari

Which Bulls Player Did Juanita Vanoy Date Before Marrying Michael Jordan?

Today, Juanita Vanoy is known as the first wife of Michael Jordan. The two were married for 17 long years spanning most of Michael’s career from the Bulls to the Washington Wizards. She was the support system Jordan relied on after things soured between him and the Jordan family.

Today, his relationship with her and their eventual messy divorce that cost the Bulls legend a whopping $168 million has been immortalized in media. People only think of the settlement when Juanita is mentioned and her name has become linked with Jordan’s for eternity.

However, there is another part of Juanita’s life, a part that existed before meeting Michael Jordan, that connected her to the Bulls. Vanoy was in a relationship with a former Bulls player before MJ ever stepped foot on a court.

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Juanita Vanoy was in a relationship with Reggie Theus

His Airness made his debut in 1984. He met Juanita Vanoy the same year in a restaurant and was later properly introduced to her by mutual friends. The two immediately hit it off and began seeing each other. However, Vanoy had been involved with a Bulls player only months before meeting Jordan.

Reggie Theus and Juanita dated from 1983-84. A 6ft 7″ guard, Theus was drafted by the Bulls as the 9th overall pick in 1978. He played with the team for a little over 5 years before being traded to the Kansas City Kings, a team that would eventually become the Sacramento Kings.

Just a year before being traded, Theus met Juanita and they began to date, The relationship did not last long and ended before Michael Jordan reached Chicago to make his debut.

Fascinatingly, Michael Jordan may not have dated Juanita if not for her prior experience in dating professional athletes. In his book Michael Jordan: The Life, Roland Lazenby detailed how her relationship with Theus helped set the stage for their 17-year-long marriage.

Lazenby: “They were introduced by a friend who set up a meeting at a Bennigan’s in Chicago. A few weeks later, the friend had a small party to give them a second opportunity to spend time together. Vanoy was a beauty, said to be one of Reggie Theus’s former flames. She was almost four years older than Jordan, and he immediately found that appealing. It challenged him to raise his own level of maturity. He found that he could talk to her, as he could with his mother.”

Theus was the ladies’ man of Chicago before Michael Jordan

Before Michael Jordan came to Chicago, Reggie Theus reined as the most desired man in the city. Theus was a party animal and a popular visitor of Chicago’s downtown scene. In fact, his socialization skills earned him the moniker ‘Rush Street Reggie.’

When Reggie left to play for the Kings, Chicago’s downtown had a vacuum. Michael Jordan, just a rookie then, quickly filled the vacuum and took over as the most desired ladies’ man. Lazenby wrote of it in his book.

Lazenby: “Jordan had found an even larger and more active social life in Chicago, one that had been pioneered by former Bull Reggie Theus, who had cut such a dashing party figure downtown that he had come to be called “Rush Street Reggie.” Theus’s departure in 1983 had left an opening for the rookie Jordan to fill as Chicago’s premier ladies’ man. Jordan was serious about basketball but not so serious as to pass up opportunity. At Carolina his fame had been the big appeal. Now, in Chicago, he was discovering that fortune was even more alluring.”

Strange how much Reggie’s trade impacted Jordan’s life without ever playing alongside him. Without Reggie, it is hard to say whether Juanita and Michael would have ever met.

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About the author

Adit Pujari

Adit Pujari


Adit Pujari is an NBA Journalist and Strategist at The SportsRush. He formerly worked as a debate and writing trainer. An avid fan of Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, Adit began following the league in 2007. With the Lakers and Boston Celtics rivalry ripe, he found himself hooked to the sport immediately. After 15 years of religiously following the league, he decided to use his knowledge base as a sports writer in 2021. Since then, he has worked as an NBA writer, led a team of MLB writers, and has now joined The SportsRush. In his spare time, Adit loves playing pickup games and exploring hidden Himalayan trails.

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