Michael Jordan UNC

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32″x19″ Hand cut and sewn applique on vintage jersey

”At first,” Jordan said, ”I enjoyed the public recognition. Three years ago, I never dreamed a kid would ask me for an autograph. But, at times the recognition can be worrisome too.

When I’m noticed in a restaurant, for instance, it’s embarrassing. Basketball seems to follow me the whole day.”

In the sheltered environment of a college town, Jordan receives only encouragement and praise from the community. On campus, he said he wants to be treated as just another student, but try as they might to accommodate him, many fellow students find it difficult to resist stealing a glance when Jordan walks by.

”I know that most people will just see me as ‘the last shot,’ ” Jordan said. ”To them, I’m Michael Jordan, star basketball player. When I meet a girl socially and she doesn’t recognize me, I might tell her only that my name is Michael. Then I can carry on a conversation and see how she acts toward me.”

In Dean Smith, however, Jordan has a coach who will grant his wish about being one of the guys. ”We’ve never had a prima donna situation here,” Smith said matter-of-factly.

There are actually times when the coach appears to be purposely trying to play down Jordan’s contribution to the team. Smith will act puzzled about the all the attention Jordan receives from the reporters. He will interrupt questions about Jordan to praise players such as Sam Perkins and Doherty, who also helped the Tar Heels win the national championship in 1982 and who are responsible for much of the team’s continued success.

But despite the coach’s efforts, basketball at Carolina revolves around Jordan. The demands for interviews are constant. And playing in New York this week will not hurt Jordan’s recognition factor.

”Well, of course, Michael is the prototype big guard and a very good athlete who keeps improving,” Smith said. ”And he is more spectacular than someone like Sam Perkins. But, while I wouldn’t trade Michael, to say who is the best big guard in the country is difficult. To say that Michael is the best every night, well . . . .” – New York Times