41 Years After Helping 18YO Michael Jordan, Olympic Gold Medalist Enters New Phase of Life With Shocking Transformation

Published 09/01/2023, 8:30 AM EDT

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In today’s game, the surname Perkins is mostly synonymous with former Boston Celtics center Kendrick Perkins. Retiring in 2018, the ESPN analyst had quite the NBA career and continues to play a significant role within the league. While he has earned quite a name for himself, he probably isn’t the best ‘Perkins’ to ever suit up in the league, as that title belongs to an Olympic Gold medalist. A former teammate of Michael Jordan during his time in college, the former Dallas Mavericks forward played a major role in the Tar Heels’ success. Now aged 62, the North Carolina legend continues to be an advocate for the game, as he enters his new phase with a shocking transformation.

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While he never won an NBA chip, the Brooklyn native was one of the most dominant college players as he alongside Jordan tore up the 1982 NCAA championship. A prolific two-way player, the former ACC Rookie of the Year spent 17 years in the NBA but never hit the heights of his UNC days.

Former Olympic winner and teammate of MJ unrecognizable in new phase of life

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An integral part of the 1984 US Olympic basketball team that won the Gold in Los Angeles, Sam Perkins was never the poster boy for any franchise. While he averaged 15 points during his college days, the big man was never able to replicate the same numbers in the NBA and was a team player at best.

Despite his modest role, the former Mavs star was a mainstay in the league and was a well-known figure. Often seen donning many hairdos ranging from cornrows to high afro’s, the former ACC MVP is almost unrecognizable post-retirement.

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Named Vice-President of player relations for the Indiana Pacers in 2008, Perkins is no longer a style savant. Seen wearing box-framed spectacles with a simple haircut, the 62-year-old has completely transformed post-retirement. Currently running a summer camp in North Carolina to help young guns develop their basic skills, Sam has continued to play an integral part in the development of the sport.

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In 2011 he teamed up with Dikembe Mutombo in South Sudan to lead a series of basketball clinics and team-building exercises with 50 youth and 36 coaches, transforming many lives other than his own. Despite his continued efforts in developing the game of basketball, Sam Perkins is best known as Michael Jordan’s teammate.

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62-year-old’s time in UNC alongside Michael Jordan

The two men, alongside James Worthy, formed quite the formidable trio as they delivered Tar Heels their second-ever NCAA championship 41 years ago. Inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall-of-Fame in 2018, Perkins was a phenom in his time at UNC, as he was named ACC ROTY and MVP in his first season.

While it was MJ’s shot that sealed the victory for North Carolina that year, Sam was clearly the most important piece of the puzzle. Kenny Smith, who played on the team alongside the two, reiterated this point recently in an article with the Sun.

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Explaining that Perkins was the “best player in his freshman year,” the TV analyst stated, “Sam was the best player, Michael was the most dynamic, but he didn’t have a handle. He couldn’t handle the rock, like in college.” With Michael Jordan notoriously known for his ruthless tactics, was he a reason behind Sam’s underwhelming NBA career? Or was it due to his own mishaps? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:

Arian Kashyap

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Arian Kashyap is an NBA Writer at EssentiallySports. He has college degrees in Physical Education and Sport Sciences and has been writing since 2019. He actively follows the NBA, and though he is a Miami Heat fan, Arian likes to provide all NBA lovers with captivating content that also helps educate his readers.
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Edited by:

Pragya Vashisth

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