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"Holy smokes, it's Larry Jordan"—How Michael Jordan awkwardly met one of his closest friends

Pre-fame Michael Jordan was about to hail a cab when he heard someone utter his brother's name.
How Michael Jordan awkwardly met one of his closest friends - 7

In September 1984, limousine driver George Koehler was at the O'Hare Airport waiting for a customer that never arrived

Given Michael Jordan's status as one of the greatest athletes in history, it's safe to assume that he only rubs elbows with fellow elite athletes or those with a high profile like him. But the reality is, that one of Jordan's closest buddies is a chauffeur whom he met awkwardly in 1984.

Larry Jordan

In September 1984, limousine driver George Koehler was at the O'Hare Airport waiting for a customer that never arrived. While holding up a sign which bore the client's name, to his surprise, Michael Jordan, the second overall pick of the Chicago Bulls that season, popped out. Koehler, a big fan of his city's team, knew who he was — well, not exactly.

"I was excited because I knew who he was and I thought, 'Holy smokes, it's Larry Jordan,'" Koehler said. "I played four years in high school with a guy named Larry Jordan so that name was stuck in my memory bank," Koehler said, per ESPN.

Jordan, then a shy and skinny 21-year-old, responded: "How do you know my brother?"

Koehler was floored. Not only did he utter the wrong name, but MJ walked away towards a taxi stand. But the limousine drive was quick to think of a way to redeem himself. He gave Jordan an offer he couldn't refuse: "I'll take you anywhere you want to go for 25 bucks."

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Georgie, my boy

Koehler drove to Lincolnwood Hyatt House. MJ gave him 50 bucks and asked him to keep the change. Koehler, in response, gave Jordan his card. Knowing that the young Jordan doesn't know the hotspots in Chicago, Koehler told the North Carolina product to call him anytime. He'll gladly take him to the good restaurants. If he needs to look for a house to live in, Koehler will tour him around town, too.

Two weeks later, Koehler would get that fateful call which would be the start of his long friendship with the Greatest of All Time. Jordan was no longer the coy Southern kid he first saw in the airport.

"I heard, "Georgie, my boy,'" Koehler recalled. "I'm going, 'Who's this?' and he says, 'It's MJ.' I said, 'I don't know any MJ.' And he says, 'Yes, you do.' And I'm like, 'I'm not going to argue, I don't know who this is."

"And he's like, "Dumb [expletive delete], it's Michael Jordan.' I could hear him grinning."

Koehler doesn't drive for Jordan anymore but claims they're still close friends. He admits that through Jordan, he's met some of the most famous personalities in the world and knows that his life would've been completely different if his original client had shown up at the airport.

"Michael likes to tell the story and say, 'George was the first person I ever met in Chicago. He gave me a ride and has taken me for a ride ever since.'"


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