Michael Jordan Numbers

Michael Jordan easily comes to mind if we talk about the game of basketball.

However, did you know that he used to wear jerseys with different numbers?

Whenever I ask diehard NBA fans what Michael Jordan’s number is, they would immediately answer #23.

But there are actually different Jordan numbers that he wore while he was still playing.

In this article, I will discuss the different jersey numbers that Michael Jordan wore throughout his legendary career.

What Is The History Behind Number 23?

Once an NBA player gains recognition when they become one of the greatest players to play the game, they are recognized by various nuances such as their nickname, signature moves, highlight plays, and of course, jersey numbers.

In terms of popularity and fame, nothing comes close to Michael Jordan. If you’ve watched “The Last Dance,” you’d know what I mean.

He is considered as arguably the greatest player to play the game in NBA history, and there’s no denying that the popularity of his jersey number comes with it.

The number 23 might seem like a random number, but there’s a particular reason why Michael Jordan wore this number. Michael Jordan wore #23 because of his brother.

When they were on the same team in high school, his big brother wore his favorite number, 45. As a result, he chose half of 45 which is 22.5 and decided to use the number 23 jersey.

During most of Michael Jordan’s career in the Chicago Bulls, he wore the number 23 jersey.

Before The NBA

Before the Chicago Bulls drafted him, he played for Laney High School and the University of North Carolina:

  1. Laney High School: During high school, scouts noticed how competitive and driven Michael Jordan was. One of the reasons for this determination was his high school coach picking Leroy Smith over MJ. Because of this, he persevered and dedicated himself to the sport and eventually made the cut during his junior year. In his senior season, Michael Jordan averaged a triple-double en route to being selected to the McDonald’s All-American Team.
  2. University of North Carolina: During his college career, Michael Jordan still produced those high school numbers and led his team in scoring on several occasions. After his rookie year, he was named ACC Rookie of the Year. While donning the number 23 jersey for North Carolina, Michael Jordan’s most iconic college highlight came in the finals against their bitter rivals, Georgetown. At this point, UNC was down a single point with 20 seconds left. Michael Jordan would sink the game-winning shot with 15 seconds remaining. This eventually led to his team capturing the NCAA title.

The NBA And First Three-Peat

When he was drafted 3rd by the Chicago Bulls, Michael Jordan decided to wear the #23

During his rookie year, Michael Jordan would become the recipient of the Rookie of the Year Award during the 1984-1985 season. Jordan wore the #23 until his first retirement, when they captured three consecutive championships.

When his father was murdered after capturing their third championship, he announced his retirement from the game of basketball and started to play baseball. During his time with the Birmingham Barons, he finally wore the number 45.

His baseball career was cut short due to the Major League Baseball replacement strike, and it was only a matter of time before Michael Jordan would return to the basketball court again.

He pursued baseball because it was one of his father’s aspirations that he would eventually retire from the NBA.

Fun Fact: In 1990, Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls jersey was missing when Chicago Bulls faced Orlando Magic in the regular season.

Jordan had to wear a nameless jersey with jersey number 12 that night. The #12 jersey number was only used for one game.

It was also the only jersey number Michael Jordan had to wear, and never won a game.

The Comeback

It took MJ two years to decide, and Jordan returned to the Chicago Bulls. However, he changed his number to 45 during the regular season as he embarked on a new chapter.

Before the 1995 playoffs started, he again changed to the number 23 jersey. During the first game of the 1995 playoffs, a player named Nick Anderson from Orlando had the ball stolen from him, eventually winning the game.

After the game, when Nick Anderson was interviewed, Anderson told the reporter that he was able to steal the ball from Michael Jordan because he was wearing the number 45 jersey.

While this new beginning would eventually come to a close, the number 45 jersey would remain one of the most iconic numbers in the sport’s history as they lost to the Orlando Magic in the eastern conference semifinals. The number was never seen again worn by MJ.

The Second Three-Peat And Final Runs With The Chicago Bulls

During the 1996 to 1998 seasons, Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls would eventually capture their second three-straight championships.

As a result, his six championships with the Chicago Bulls further cemented his legacy as one of the best players in the history of the sport.

His iconic number would later be retired and hung on the Chicago Bulls rafters in United Center.

Tenure With The Washington Wizards

During his time with the Washington Wizards, Michael Jordan wore the number 23 jersey.

However, he couldn’t achieve much success this time and would later miss two consecutive playoffs and retire again.

What Jersey Number Did Michael Jordan Wear Outside The NBA?

Outside the NBA, Michael Jordan wore the number 45 jersey number when he played for Birmingham Barons.

One reason for this number change is that Michael Jordan didn’t want himself to be associated with the number 23 jersey again.

The number 45 was the same number Michael Jordan used when playing baseball during his high school years and the jersey number his older brother used in high school.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you still have questions unanswered about Michael Jordan and his jersey numbers, you may refer to the FAQs that I have listed below.

Why Did Michael Jordan Wear #23?

Michael Jordan wore the number 23 jersey because during his high school years, his older brother was using his favorite number. As a result, he chose half of his older brother’s number, 22.5, and rounded it up to 23.

Is 23 A Jordan Number?

While a lot can be associated with the number 23, it might be best known for being Michael Jordan’s jersey number during his time with the Chicago Bulls.

Every sport that you know or every person you might ask will almost tell you that it is Michael Jordan’s number.

What Does 45 Mean On Jordans?

The reason behind the number 45 was that MJ wanted to start a new beginning after his first retirement. That’s why he chose his original preferred number of 45.

When he returned, Jordan stuck with the number for 22 games but changed once the 1995 playoffs started. He felt like it wasn’t the same as the number 23 jersey of the Chicago Bulls.

When Michael Jordan returned, it took him only twelve games to score 55 points, and this game was against the New York Knicks, one of the Chicago Bulls’ eastern conference rivals. He was completely unstoppable that night.

What Did Michael Jordan Wear In The Olympics?

In the Olympics, you can only choose numbers from 4 to 15. As a result, Michael Jordan wore the number 9 during his time with the dream team. The USA Dream Team would later capture the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics.


Michael Jordan is undoubtedly one of the most iconic players in the game of basketball. The 10-part documentary series “The Last Dance” brilliantly showcased his life journey and basketball career.

The Chicago Bulls and the #23 will forever be associated with the greatness of Michael Jordan.

Jordan’s basketball career has inspired millions to become the best versions of themselves. Michael Jordan will go down as the best basketball player to ever play the game.

The number 23 will be remembered as the most popular number in sports history because two of the greatest players, Michael Jordan and Lebron James, wore this number.