When Michael Jordan came down the court with his tongue stuck out, you knew you were in trouble.
Along with a fantastic swag and flow to his game, Micheal had something else that made him unique. It wasn’t his high-flying ability and competitiveness, although that was pretty freakish. It wasn’t his jump-shot or his passing. It was his signature involuntary tic — the tongue stuck out.
Air Jordan made a guest appearance at The Arsenio Hall Show, back in 1990, only a year before winning his first championship. The two covered many topics and anecdotes about MJ’s life; the episode is definitely a must-see. At one point during the interview, Arsenio asked Mike about the origin of his tongue being stuck out, here’s what Mike had to say.
Well, it’s an unconscious habit that I picked up from my father. Being a little kid and you’re watching your father work, he used to stick his tongue out, and I took it up and made it a habit. And now I can’t stop, I tried to stop, I tried playing with a mouthpiece in my mouth — just didn’t work, it didn’t feel natural.Michael Jordan, The Arsenio Hall Show
In another clip on YouTube, Michael’s father also commented on the tongue tic and its origin. He noted the involuntary habit came from his grandfather when we worked around the house and simply wanted to focus. The apple sure doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The GOAT had countless iconic highlights throughout his career, and all of these moments had one irreplaceable detail — his tongue stuck out.