The greatest of all time. Not many humans on the planet have ever been called that, nor would many be taken seriously if they were. But Michael Jordan is the exception. Other than maybe Babe Ruth or Muhammad Ali, no other athlete has had as much worldwide appeal, or the ability transcend cultures and nationalities, becoming an ambassador for their sport – whether they liked it or not – quite like Jordan. And while he was no means perfect as a man, his game more or less was. He was the most dominant athlete of the 1990s, leading the Chicago Bulls to six championships, winning six Finals MVP awards, and was AP athlete of the year from 1991 to ’93, among countless other achievements during his 15-year career.
He was the role model to millions of kids, and despite being intensely protective of his personal life, he did let a few details slip – mainly that he loved cigars, golf, and fast cars. In fact, Jordan still loves cars so much that it’s hard to keep track of just how many he has at any given time. He rarely registers them in his own name, and never holds on to them for too long. But he’s had enough Corvettes, Porsches, and Ferraris to prove that the man knows what he likes.
Now 52, Jordan still grabs headlines. Whether he’s becoming the first billionaire in sports history, or declaring that in his prime he could beat LeBron James one-on-one, he still casts a huge shadow over the game of basketball, something that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. So here, in chronological order, are 7 cars that have been good enough for the Greatest of All Time.
1. Chevrolet C4 Corvette
As soon as Jordan was drafted by the Bulls, he signed an deal with Chicago-area Chevy dealerships to do a series of commercials, and probably got a deal on his first star car, a Medium Gray Metallic C4 Corvette – license place “MJ 23.” While his tastes got decidedly more European in coming years, Jordan had a fondness for ‘Vettes, also owning 1990 and ’93 ZR-1s, as well as a 1994 model.
2. Ferrari 512 TR
Arguably the most ’80s of ’80s cars, the Testarossa may not be everyone’s favorite Ferrari, but to gearheads of a certain age, there’s nothing finer, and at the pinnacle of his career, it was Jordan’s ride of choice. When Sports Illustrated ran a photo of him clad in a bespoke gray suit and Ray-Ban Clubmasters stepping out of his black 512, license plate “M-AIR-J,” a generation of basketball fans had a new definition of what cool was.
3. Porsche 911
While Jordan’s Ferrari was a common sight around Chicago in the early ’90s, he has a love for Porsches that goes back to his earliest playing days – so much so that he told sneaker designer Tinker Hatfield to pattern the Air Jordan VI after his Porsche 911. Jordan owned a number of 930, 964, and 993 models during his playing days.
4. Toyota Land Crusier
No, this isn’t Jordan’s Land Cruiser – it’s teammate B.J. Armstrong driving to practice in March of 1995. Jordan had a nearly identical one, though, and drove it regularly as the rumors swirled while he was preparing to return to basketball after a year playing minor league baseball (the press here mobbing Armstrong’s LC at the Bulls complex, mistaking it for Jordan’s). For those in the know, the Land Cruiser offers the same levels of ruggedness and luxury as the Range Rover, without having to worry about whether or not it will start every morning.
5. Aston Martin DB7 Volante
In 2001, Jordan came out of retirement a second time as a Washington Wizard, not a Bull. And for cars, he decided to change it up and get an Aston Martin DB7 Volante. Introduced in 1996, the DB7 was the first truly modern Aston in decades, and may well have saved the company from financial ruin. Having one of the most famous men in the world driving around in one didn’t hurt either.
6. Mercedes-McLaren SLR 722 Edition
Hanging up his sneakers for the last time in 2003, Jordan settled into retirement by taking an active role behind the scenes, a minority stake in the Charlotte Bobcats (now Hornets), and buying the team outright in 2010. His appetite for cars didn’t diminish either. In 2007, he bought a 650 horsepower, $450,000 Mercedes-McLaren SLR 722 Edition. It must not have been his cup of tea – in 2010, it appeared on eBay with fewer than 1,000 miles on it.
7. Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano
Twelve years after playing his last game, Jordan’s place in popular culture is as strong as it’s ever been. He’s still chased by paparazzi, and with his taste in cars as expensive as ever, it’s hard not to look. In recent years, he’s been spotted driving a Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano in a dark silver remarkably similar to his first Corvette’s. Maybe it’s Jordan’s version of a throwback?