This post contains all the famous Michael Jordan Nicknames and the origins of these nicknames.
Widely considered the greatest basketballer in NBA history, Michael Jeffrey Jordan is an American businessman and former professional basketball player credited for boosting the game’s popularity worldwide, earning him the status of a global cultural icon.
Did you know that Jordan has made more than one billion dollars from his productive partnership with Nike? This has contributed significantly to his wealth, making him the 5th richest African American as of 2021 and the first billionaire basketballer.
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Popular Michael Jordan Nicknames
That said, let’s explore the most famous nicknames for Michael Jordan:
This one’s obvious. “MJ” comes from the initials of Jordan’s name, a popular moniker for others with those unique initials. Just ask Michael Jackson.
2. Air Jordan
This popular nickname was given to Jordan by his agent, David Falk before he even took to the court as a professional basketballer. As the story goes, Jordan initially wanted to sign a sponsorship deal with Adidas, while Falk pushed for him to go with Nike. In time, Falk’s preference won. Soon though, a nagging question was on the name for the brand of sneakers that would be specially made for Jordan.
Falk wanted to call the line “Michael Jordan,” but Nike didn’t believe that a 21-year-old Jordan had enough marketing credibility. Falk’s alternative was almost on the spot and inspired as he pitched the name “Air Jordan.” A successful partnership was born at that moment, as was a legendary nickname.
3. His Airness
“His Airness” is a moniker given to Jordan by fans due to his ability to slam dunks from the free-throw line and his leaping ability. This was made manifest on multiple occasions when he dropped “clutch performances” for his team at crucial points in the game. As Bleacher puts it:
“Down by a bucket with just seconds left? It was all eyes on M.J. His opponents knew he was going to get the ball; the question was ‘How do we stop him from scoring?’ It was almost automatic. I can’t count how many times his ‘Airness’ single-handedly destroyed teams. Ask anyone who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during Sir Michael’s reign… namely, Craig Ehlo”.
4. Black Cat
Jordan was known as the “Black Cat as a kid in North Carolina.” Nike special projects vice president, Tinker Hatfield, stumbled upon the nickname by accident while skimming through ideas for the new line of sneakers, the Air Jordan 13.
Hatfield said, watching Jordan on tape: “He moved like a cat, with feline movements but he conserved energy. A cat does that very well. It’ll be chilled down but on a moment’s notice, he can turn it on. Jordan plays basketball like that, with grace and smoothness. But he strikes in ferocious ways. Like a Black Cat, I took that inspiration for his next shoe design. Sleek, powerful but lean, nothing extra.”
Hatfield would later take the sample product to Los Angeles, where Jordan was shooting a commercial. In between takes, Hatfield showed Jordan the Black Cat.
“He chuckled,” recalled Hatfield. “Then there was a tear in his eye. ‘How did you know that’s what they called me? says Jordan. ‘That’s what they called me back in Wilmington.’” Hatfield said, “it was a fortunate convergence–it was extra meaningful.”
5. Black Jesus
In the 2020 documentary on Jordan titled “The Last Dance,” insight is provided into the origins of the nickname “Black Jesus.” Reggie Miller describes how the name came about in an exhibition game in 1987.
“Michael…who do you think you are? The great Michael Jordan? That’s right, there’s a new kid in town!” Miller remembered telling Jordan.
“He kind of looks at me and starts shaking his head. So at half I have 10, and he has four points…end of the game, the second half, he ended up with 44 and I ended up with 12. So he outscored me 40-2. And as he’s walking off, he’s like, “Be sure, and be careful, you never talk to Black Jesus like that,” Miller said. As Miller himself would later say, he never called him Jordan again after that.
6. Captain Marvel
While the name “Captain Marvel” is associated with a comic superhero, sports commentators also attributed it to the young Jordan, who was quite clearly a phenomenon. When Jordan first joined the NBA in the eighties he wasn’t known by the more popular nickname like “Air Jordan ” but rather, “Captain Marvel.” Fans called Jordan “Captain Marvel” because even though he was a young player, he was already more dominant than 90 percent of players in the NBA during that time.
7. Magic Jordan
As a kid, Michael Jordan’s nickname was “Magic Jordan” — named after Magic Johnson. In a 1992 interview with Playboy, Jordan disclosed that he adored Magic Johnson. His words:
“I liked him when I was in high school. They used to call me Magic Jordan. My first car had a license plate with Magic Jordan on it. It was a 1976 Grand Prix … There was a little bit of envy because of the way I came into the league. Magic came in with even more flair and even more success. And he should have been even bigger than I was in terms of endorsements and business opportunities. But he wasn’t marketed that way. And I was fortunate to have good people”. Jordan notes that his first car had a license plate engraved with “Magic Jordan.”
Other nicknames include:
9. Mr. June
10. G.O.A.T (Greatest of all time)
12. Air Apparent
13. The Jumpman
14. His Royal Airness
15. Mr. Clutch
There you have it. Have we left out any Michael Jordan nicknames? Let us know in the comments below.
Read More: 50+ Most Famous NBA Nicknames of All Time