It was a summer spent in the spotlight, but the summer of 2018 is going to be remembered for something else entirely: what happens when that same star player goes pro.
As a kid growing up in a small-town Wisconsin town, Michael Jordan was known for his ability to jump over opposing guards on the floor and hit free throws.
He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, but he was also a huge basketball fan and a regular at the Madison Square Garden, where he was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.
As his popularity continued to grow in the early 2000s, he signed a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike that paid him a reported $300 million per year, according to Sports Illustrated.
He became a national phenomenon, but that popularity also led to a fall from grace.
Jordan left the Bulls in 2005 and spent the next decade on the sidelines.
While he was playing on the court, he battled depression, substance abuse, and heart problems, according the Chicago Tribune.
The Bulls signed him back to the team in 2010 and he played until his retirement in 2021.
Jordan’s retirement in 2022 marked the beginning of a new era for the Bulls, and it was the first time since he first arrived in Chicago that the team had been in contention since its inception in 1962.
But in the last year of his life, he became a full-time celebrity.
He started a new life as a professional basketball player, appearing in a Nike commercial in 2019.
With the endorsement deal in place, Jordan was on a roll.
He earned $20 million per season, according a report by Sports Illustrated, and he was even on the cover of Time magazine, which was widely hailed as the “first celebrity-owned sports publication.”
The Bulls have not won a championship since he retired, but Jordan is still a household name and a force in the sports world.
His image as a star player has been a cornerstone of the franchise since he joined the team as a free agent in 2010.
Jordan’s success was so widespread that the Chicago Bulls had to do something special to honor him, so they hired former NBA commissioner Adam Silver to coach the team, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Silver’s hiring was praised by some basketball fans for giving a younger generation a chance to see Jordan in a uniform, and his hire helped boost attendance for the team’s home games and the franchise’s television ratings.
But the Bulls struggled to keep up with their rivals, which led to the departure of some key players in the offseason, including Michael Beasley, the team captain and former All-Star point guard.
Beasley was a restricted free agent and was not a part of the coaching staff when Silver was hired.
The move left the team with little flexibility to find players to replace Beasley and made the team less competitive in the short-term.
The departure of Beasley also made the Bulls more dependent on veteran point guard Taj Gibson, who was an All-NBA selection last season and was considered a potential future star.
The team also signed Jordan to a five-year, $32 million deal in 2020.
But after the 2019-20 season, the Bulls decided not to sign Gibson.
Instead, they signed former New Orleans Pelicans center Ryan Anderson, who had been with the team for four seasons and helped lead them to the NBA’s first playoff appearance since 2010.
Anderson, who has not been the same player he was at the start of his career, was one year removed from averaging 21.5 points per game as a rookie and was one point shy of matching Jordan for the franchise record for points in a season, but injuries limited him to just 17.7 per game.
Anderson played well enough in limited minutes in 2018-19 to earn a spot in the starting lineup for the next two seasons, but his scoring was no longer the best indicator of a player’s value, as it had been for many years.
The number of assists he recorded per game in 2020-21 was down from the previous two seasons when he was averaging 13.2 and 13.4, respectively.
The average of his points per possession in those two seasons was also down from last season, when he averaged 11.9.
Despite his struggles with the Bulls last season in the postseason, Anderson made the playoffs for the first season in his career.
He scored at least 20 points in all four of his postseason games, including three 20-point performances in a 20-10 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.
Anderson has averaged 12.6 points and 6.5 assists per game over his last five seasons, which makes him one of five players to average at least 12.5 and at least 6.0 points per outing in each of those five seasons.
Anderson also scored at a career-best 46.5 percent clip from the field in the 2017-18 season.
The emergence of Beal, who averaged 16.4 points and 9.6 assists per contest during his first season with the Pelicans,