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Michael Jordan, Fondly Nicknamed “Black Jesus” Among His Peers, Stopped Going to the Church Due to a Big “Problem”

Published 08/08/2022, 10:14 AM EDT

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Michael Jordan is the epitome of greatness. Everyone knows Jordan no matter if they follow basketball or not. Even if people don’t know anything about basketball, they would still know about “His Airness”. That is the impact MJ’s legacy has all over the world. Jordan is still widely recognized as the GOAT of the NBA. He is an inspiration to so many generations that have followed him, and better yet, many more that are yet to come. But who would have thought that this admiration, fan following and worship from masses will become a problem?

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It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Michael Jordan is worshiped. At least he was. When Michael was at the peak of his powers, everyone looked at him like he was extraordinary. Even before winning the three-peat twice, Michael had people going crazy for him. At his prime, MJ was nothing short of Jesus Christ for many. And this became a problem for him.


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Michael revealed in 1989, When I go to church, any church I go to, it doesn’t seem like church to me, because everybody stares. I went back to my own church in Wilmington a few times since I’ve been in the pros, and it really hasn’t been the same old church. It’s more or less ‘Well, Michael is here today, let’s have him speak for us.’”

WATCH THIS STORY: Favorite moments from MJ’s Last Dance.

Michael grew up going to church. It is said that he still prays by himself and believes in God. However, people’s treatment of respect, love & reaction to him was as if he were Jesus Christ. So, despite being from a christian and religious family, Michael actually leaned more towards his own values after such experiences. Moreover, he pretty much stopped going to church altogether.

Michael Jordan embracing the “Jesus” status

There is a story behind it. Just like the feeling of discomfort stopped Michael from going to church, another feeling of probably pride made him embrace the treatment many people gave him. During an exhibition game between Bulls and Pacers in 1988, rookie Reggie Miller trash talked with Michael Jordan. Michael had a pretty quiet first half. Miller was playing well with 10 points while MJ had 4. But as the game ended, Michael had 44 and Reggie just had 12.


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Reggie was motivated to trash talk by a teammate who said that Reggie was outplaying the guy who “is supposed to walk on water”. So the energetic rookie, Miller, went up to Michael and said, Michael, who do you think you are? The great Michael Jordan, that’s right! There’s a new kid in town!”


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Clearly Reggie regretted doing that. After dominating the second half, Michael said to Reggie, “Be sure, and be careful, you never talk to Black Jesus like that!” Apart from that, his Bulls teammates and one coach of his, Doug Collins also honored Michael with that nickname.


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“You’re on the Same Court with God!”: Shaquille O’Neal Reveals He Was Terrified of Michael Jordan

Now, no matter how big a star you are, everybody likes a certain personal space. If not for anything else, then at least for praying to God. However, if the person in question is Michael Jordan, “Black Jesus” himself, it is almost impossible to have that personal space, even in a church.

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Written by:

Chaitanya Sharma


One take at a time

Chaitanya is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He completed his engineering from SRM University. Having determined an interest in football and basketball, he was inclined towards having a job in the sports industry.
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Edited by:

Ajinkya Aswale