The day Michael Jordan swapped the mythical number 23 for number 12

A day when the unusual and the unthinkable happens. That evening, for the very first time in his odyssey with the Bulls, MJ did not evolve with his flocked jersey number 23. Instead, this February 14, 1990, the rear of Chicago will wear number 12. What happened to get there?

The film of the events,

Full fever of Valentine’s Day. The Bulls, traveling to Orlando see their locker room cleared by a thief a few hours before kickoff. Consequence: the famous number 23 of the indescribable Michael Jordan cannot be found. It has disappeared, but the paradox, if one can call it that, is that this theft goes as far as possible to increase the already daunting grandeur of the MJ icon. The author of the facts does not know it yet but because of him, Jordan will undeniably go up a notch in the timeless stratosphere of the league. After the disappearance of the shirt, at the Bulls, it’s panic. Everyone is disenchanted. In fact, the staff goes in search of the famous grail. Orlando Arena employees are interrogated and even searched, but nay. Unable to recover the ‘loot’. At the time, Michael Jordan decides to borrow the replica of a fan present in the enclosure. As surprising as it may seem, we have to face the facts. The stewardship of the franchise has not provided a spare jersey. Extremely rare…
This means that this day had to happen for the sequel to be… In search of a solution, the native of Brooklyn and his team will be caught up in a replica of the number #23 of a young spectator present in the room. Unfortunately the jersey was tiny so it couldn’t do the trick. Ultimately, « His Airness » will have to force himself to wear the number 12 that a physical trainer had in his bag. A training jersey without his name on the back! This change will undoubtedly irritate the principal concerned but will not get him out of the game.

“It has never happened before,” reacted Michael Jordan at the time. “It’s quite annoying when you’re used to certain things and everything is turned upside down at the last moment. »
With number 12 on his back and saddened by the turn of events, « MJ » will nevertheless inflict a whopping 49 points on the Magic that evening. Which unfortunately will not prevent the defeat of the Bulls, 135-129 after extra time.


On this Valentine’s Day evening, it was definitely not the mad love between Michael Jordan and the city of Orlando to the point where after the meeting, the future five-time MVP will even refuse to sign the slightest autograph to the fans. The Chicago scout was simply outraged!
Despite this incident and this first, in history we must remember that #12 and #23 will not be the only numbers worn by the Jordan myth since during his first comeback, he had swapped the usual number 23 to take #45. A few weeks later, he will get rid of it. The context, the lost conference semi-final in 1995…Always against Orlando! Decidedly, when the fate is relentless!
To come back to the ins and outs of this unfortunate inconvenience caused to one if not the greatest basketball player of all time, it is only thirty years later that the Magic will decide to reveal the underside of this theft. According to the steward of the Orlando franchise Rodney Powell, this theft was actually a failed act since the thief left without his loot.
« That morning, after their shootaround, their locker room was prepared with each player’s jerseys, shorts, tracksuits, everything is ready, » he says. “The changing room door was locked, then we had added a padlock on an additional lock. Only one person had the key. A few days later, the Magic discovered through security that one of its employees had set up a scheme to obtain the jersey. He had entered through another locker room, then had climbed into the false ceilings. He then moved a ceiling tile, grabbed the jersey, and pushed it up into the ceiling. I guess he had planned to come back for it. »

Funny, confusing and even disconcerting. In any case, for a flight, this one was anything but trivial.

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