We’d like to wish a very happy 50th birthday to Michael Jeffrey “Air” Jordan, the undisputed best basketball player of all-time. The Hall of Famer won six NBA championships as a member of the Chicago Bulls thanks to his unrivaled competitive instinct, his 46-inch vertical leap, and his really rad footwear. MJ’s impact on the sport that began with a college professor throwing a round ball through a peach basket is immeasurable, but if we were to forced to name the one thing that defines his legacy, it would have to be his tongue.
From the time he burst onto the spotlight in 1982 as a freshman guard on the NCAA championship winning North Carolina Tar Heels, Jordan played the game with an exuberance that had never been seen before, and one that has yet to have been matched. This joie de vivre, if you will, was best exemplified by Air Jordan’s omnipresent tongue, which wagged whether he was soaring through the air for one of his patented dunks, D-ing up an opponent, or just dribbling down the court. His tongue is an All-Star in its own right, and made appearances when Jordan tried his hand at hoops —as a Chicago Bull, a US Olympian, or even a Washington Wizard— baseball, golf, and even press conferences as an owner.
[Photos: Getty Images]