How Michael Jordan’s path to greatness was shaped by race, politics, and the consequences of fame
To become the most revered basketball player in America, it wasn’t enough for Michael Jordan to merely excel on the court. He also had to become something he never intended: a hero.
As Jordan ascended as an NBA champion, his story assured the public that meritocracy and hard work still mattered. Yet building this narrative came at a cost. In Jumpman, sports historian Johnny Smith reveals how Jordan guarded his politics and personal life, allowing him to seem more likable to Americans who wanted to believe that race no longer mattered. In the process of achieving greatness, he remade himself into a paradox: universally known, yet distant and unknowable.
Blending dramatic game action with grand evocations of the social forces sweeping the early nineties, Jumpman reveals how the man and the myth together created the legend that we remember today.
About the Author
Johnny Smith is the J. C. “Bud” Shaw Professor of Sports History and associate professor of history at the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is also the co-author of Blood Brothers, A Season in the Sun, and War Fever with Randy Roberts. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia.