“It’s Not for Money…”: Michael Jordan Once Admitted Wanting to Surpass the MLB and NFL Legends Who Inspired His Unusual Career Path

Published 11/03/2022, 3:50 PM EDT

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Michael Jordan was one of the rarest athletic talents capable of achieving anything that attracted his interest. Jordan had an unbelievable career as an NBA athlete, winning six championships for the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. However, MJ’s competitive ambition always pushed him to do greater things than he had already achieved.

Jordan’s diverse mindset drove his interest in different sports. The Chicago Bulls legend once admitted his desire to surpass MLB Legend Bo Jackson and NFL legend Deion Sanders, who were the inspiration behind his unusual career paths.


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Michael Jordan made it to the NBA in 1984 with the Chicago Bulls and helped the team win three back-to-back championships from 1991-1993. Jordan started playing golf in the summer of 1984 after his friend Dave Love III introduced him to the game. Moreover, he was in love with baseball since his childhood days. Thus, MJ had interests in multiple sports and aimed to surpass multi-sport legends like Jackson and Sanders.

Michael Jordan talked about his journey to become a golf player during an interview in 1989. He participated in the Wednesday Pro-Am of the Federal Express St. Jude Classic at the Tournament Players Club in SouthWind. Michael Jordan talked about how Love introduced him to golf. He started to play golf on a consistent basis during the offseason and practiced vigorously to better himself.

Michael Jordan wants to become like Bo Jackson

MJ revealed that he was learning the game and never had a chance to play golf all year as he did not play during the NBA season. Jordan shared that he had a dream of becoming a pro golfer and competing with the best professionals on the tour. Jordan said, “It’s not for the money. I should already be financially secure. But it’s a challenge, right? They said Bo couldn’t play two sports.”

MJ reckoned that he did not want to become a pro golfer to earn more money. He just liked to challenge himself and try his hands at two sports like Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders did.


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Jackson played in NFL for 13 years and won the Pro Bowl with the LA Raiders in 1990. Meanwhile, he also played in the NFL and MLB between 1986-1990. Bo Jackson remained active in the MLB until 1994 and was named an All-Star in 1989.

Further, Sanders is a two-time Super Bowl champ in the NFL and played as a baseball outfielder for nine seasons in the MLB. Sanders is the only athlete to play two sports in a single day. He appeared on the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Falcons teams on the same day.

Jordan wanted to play three professional sports


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The 14-time All-Star’s competitive edge drove him to achieve more than his inspiration. So, he decided to switch his career path and try his hand at MLB. He joined the baseball Double-A minor league team, Birmingham Barons, in 1994.

The six-time Finals MVP played 127 games that season with an average of .202 and 51 RBI with three home runs. However, Jordan had to return back home due to a baseball strike.


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MJ’s decision to leave NBA came during a tough phase after his father, James Jackson’s murder in 1993. An unfortunate situation allowed Jordan to try his hand at baseball, after which he returned to the league in 1995. Michael Jordan was soon back to winning ways in NBA, bagging a second three-peat from 1996 to 1998. The Bulls legend continued to spend his time on the golf course but never turned pro.


Written by:

Rohit Kumawat


One take at a time

Rohit Kumawat is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Currently pursuing an MBA in Media and Business Management, Rohit holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. He has been working as a Sports and Entertainment writer for over a year.
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Edited by:

Pritam Priyedarshi