Michael Jordan’s Teacher: “Nobody Cut Michael Jordan”

Michael Jordan’s Teacher: “Nobody Cut Michael Jordan” September 10, 2009

MichaelJordanThose of us who grew up going to wildly overpriced basketball camps (remember Five Star?  What a racket!) often heard the inspiring and–ahem–comforting tale that Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player in the world, was cut from the varsity team as a sophomore.  Great story–except it’s not technically true.

This is disheartening news for those of us who found solace in this anecdote, perhaps the only point of athletic commonality we shared with one Mr. Jordan. (Photo: Charlotte Observer)

SLAM just linked to a story from the Charlotte Observer that sets the record straight:

Ruby Sutton has a distinct pet peeve when it comes to the subject of her former pupil, Michael Jordan: the oft-told story of how he was “cut” from the Laney High varsity basketball team as a sophomore, spurring him to greatness.

“Back then, (most) 10th-graders played JV; that’s just the way it was. Nobody ever ‘cut’ Michael Jordan,” Sutton, who still teaches physical education, said this month, shaking her head as she retold the story for at least the 100th time.

So there you go.  Get a look at the early Jordan in the fun and well-researched piece.  The guy was so competitive, he outran other kids to the dugout on water breaks.  That, friends, is dedication.  Of course, this same competitive fire drove him throughout all of his life, sometimes to bad ends, as Michael Leahy’s exceptional When Nothing Else Matters abundantly shows.

That’s the final word.  You can never propagate the apocryphal tale that Jordan was cut again.  This likely affects your own life very little; it does, however, wreak havoc on half-winded summer basketball camp pep talks all across the world.

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  • Dustin Lair

    I think it was in the first issue of SLAM, but there was an article about this. Leroy Smith later became a shoe salesman and the author said “then again I guess so has Michael Jordan.” Somewhat related have you ever seen Kevin Johnson’s dunk on Hakeem Olajuwon. Unbelievable.

  • Say it ain’t so O. Say it ain’t so…

  • jm

    somehow, I find it hard to believe that a female high school teacher has the definitive word on this.

    i mean, yes, the norm was for 10th grade students to play jv. that’s still pretty much the norm today.

    but its obvious jordan was trying out for the varsity team. in the account of this teacher, jordan would have been on the jv squad from day one and not had a chance on varsity. however, that’s not the case.

    its true jordan was up for the final spot on the team. its true that leroy smith got the spot on the varsity team instead of jordan. that means jordan got cut.