Valentine’s Day 1992: When Michael Jordan Was Forced To Wear #12

Valentine’s Day 1992: When Michael Jordan Was Forced To Wear #12
Michael Jordan Jason H. Smith / Flickr cc
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Michael Jordan and No. 23 are synonymous with one another. Even non-basketball fans around the globe know that Jordan sported the famous jersey number.


Today, the likes of Anthony Davis and LeBron James wear No. 23 as a sign of respect to Jordan. Needless to say, it is the most popular jersey number in the history of sports.

Of course, Jordan donned the No. 45 when he made his first comeback from retirement in 1995. But he quickly switched back to No. 23 the following year.

However, there is another number Jordan sported in a Bulls uniform, albeit for one night. It was Valentine’s Day, 1992, when Jordan was forced to wear No. 12 due to unforeseen circumstances.

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Jordan’s Bulls were visiting the Orlando Magic for a V-Day showdown. Barely minutes before tip-off, a burglar snuck into Chicago’s locker room and stole Jordan’s jersey.

Sent into a frenzy…

The Bulls management ran helter-skelter. Jordan, too, was in a frenzy. They approached a young fan who was wearing a replica jersey. Unfortunately, Jordan’s large frame didn’t fit into the jersey.

Of course, if the match was being held at the United Center in Chicago, Jordan would have surely found a last-minute replacement. But the arena in Orlando wasn’t teeming with Bulls fans, understandably so.

Finally, the team’s equipment manager offered his unnamed jersey with only No. 12 engraved behind it. Jordan had no choice but to accept the jersey.

Still scored 49 points…

The change of jersey didn’t affect his game, though. Jordan dropped 49 points, albeit in an overtime defeat to Orlando.

Therefore, on that night, Michael Jordan wore the No. 12 jersey for the first and only time.  The burglar got away with the perfect souvenir, which he probably sold on eBay many years later. One wonders if he could muster the courage to reveal that it was Jordan’s original jersey. Because, if he did, someone would have paid top dollars for a jersey worn by the greatest athlete of all time.

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