In 1988, Michael Jordan won his first Most Valuable Player award, his first All-Star Game MVP, his second scoring title, and was crowned Defensive Player of the Year. One could confidently say that he was on top of the basketball world. Amid all his rising fame, Jordan decided to do what any other Michael would do; go to the mall.
Anonymous Michael Jordan
Jordan, who was then 25-years-old, wasn't naive. He knew of his stature as a global basketball icon. So before heading to the mall, MJ wore a simple disguise which worked for only about an hour and 15 minutes. Soon enough, people started noticing him and chanting his name.
“I had shades," Jordan ">told Roy Firestone. "I turned my hat backward and how I wore the shorts and pants and stuff and look just kind of awkward. (It worked for) about an hour and 15 minutes. A couple of my teammates were with me, but what gave it away was I was walking with Brad Sellers, and he was seven feet, and everybody sees a seven-foot guy they’re gonna say well he plays basketball, and then they kind of stared at me and that gives it away."
MJ on dealing with fame
In the interview, Jordan admitted that he is a prisoner of his fame. However, it does not mean that he abhorred the dark side of it. MJ admitted to fame being exciting for him in his first few years in the league. Soon, it wore him out as he could not do the things he wanted to do, like hanging out with his teammates in malls. But at the end of the day, from the first time he stepped on NBA hardwoods, Jordan was aware that his life will never be the same again. He would just have to deal with fame — both its trappings and benefits.
It was fortunate that Jordan quickly accepted that his stardom would not just go away in a blink of an eye. Several years after the interview, Jordan won the first of his six titles. Not only did he become the Greatest of All Time in basketball, but Jordan also became a cultural icon. Thirty-three years after that 1988 mall adventure, Jordan still resonates supreme.