Johnny Smith Author Talk at Atlanta History Center
How Michael Jordan’s path to greatness was shaped by race, politics, and the consequences of fame
To become the most revered basketball player in America, it wasn’t enough for Michael Jordan to merely excel on the court. He also had to become something he never intended: a hero.
Reconstructing the defining moment of Jordan’s career—winning his first NBA championship during the 1990-1991 season—sports historian Johnny Smith examines Jordan’s ubiquitous rise in American culture and the burden he carried as a national symbol of racial progress. Jumpman reveals how Jordan maintained a “mystique” that allowed him to seem more likable to Americans who wanted to believe race no longer mattered. In the process of achieving greatness, he remade himself into a paradox: universally known, yet distant and unknowable.
Blending dramatic game action with grand evocations of the social forces sweeping the early nineties, Jumpman demonstrates how the man and the myth together created the legend we remember today.