When 23 Was Just a Number

MJ playing mini-golf? Yes, please.

Before he became a fixture in the USA team room at Ryder Cups and Presidents Cups, before he built his own golf paradise at The Grove XXIII in Florida, even before he played that now-legendary round with USA Basketball head coach Chuck Daly before the 1992 Olympics, Michael Jordan met Davis Love III.

It was 1984, and they were both students at the University of North Carolina. According to a 2017 story on pgatour.com, the Tar Heels had recently lost to Indiana in the 1984 East Regional semifinals and Jordan’s roommate had just met Love. The two were going to the course and, without much to do, Jordan asked if he could tag along. Within weeks, he was hooked. For good.

Later that year, during what many consider one of the greatest rookie seasons in NBA history, Jordan was already finding excuses to play anywhere. Hence this rarely seen image of him (at left) on a Phoenix miniature golf course with Bulls teammate Rod Higgins. The legend of No. 23 was just beginning, with so many incredible stories on and off the course to come.

No 23 Michael Jordan Culture When 23 Was Just a Number

Photo by Manny Millan /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images