Michael Jordan Reflects on Brother Larry's NBA Dreams Thwarted by Height

Michael Jordan's brother, Larry's NBA journey

by Nouman Rasool
Michael Jordan Reflects on Brother Larry's NBA Dreams Thwarted by Height
© James Gilbert/Getty Images

There is no doubt that Michael Jordan, most rightly considered the greatest basketball player of all time was at one point in direct competition with his own brother Larry. Larry is a story of immense skill shackled by the whimsy and twist of mother nature, in the shadows on some towering NBA legends.

Michael told an anecdote in a rare video that would place him second to Larry when it came to athletic ability, opining: "When you say Air Jordan I'm No.2. he's 1." An incredible 44-inch vertical from Larry Jordan proved he had the hops watch his early highlights and you'll see a guy easily dunking two hands in traffic that didn't look unlike, say,"his little brother or with skills no worse.

All of these accomplishments aside, his career as a professional basket baller was cut short by the quintessential case of lousy luck: he did not grow tall enough. By the time Michael graduated high school from Emsley A. Laney High School, despite measuring at 5'10" his sophomore year he had grown a reported six inches to stand an even tall 6'4".

Larry, meanwhile never managed to beat the six-foot limit that killed his NBA ambitions. School coach, Clifton 'Pop' Herring put it best when he said if Larry was 6’2″ instead of 5’7″ then Michael would be known as “Larry’s brother”.

It was the ironic hand of fate that left Larry at a disadvantage in one area while allowing him to cruise through another, as he opted for college basketball and wound up playing himself straight onto UNC Wilmington's team.

Yet his trek didn't culminate at the college level.

WBL's Rising Star Larry

A new opportunity emerged in 1987 as the World Basketball League (WBL) was founded for players under 6'4". He was selected in the third round by the Chicago Express and soon became, not surprisingly best known player on his team-he had a famous brother after all.

Still, Larry was determined to be his own man saying "I want to become my own man. We don't need you judging me by Michael's successful playing. I have amazing quickness, I am a decent shooter and ballhandler. I was just comfortable and came in ready to take that shot, even against bigger guys.

Yet he was overshadowed by the popularity of former NBA players Alfredrick Hughes and Jim Les who played little or no defense, thus severely limiting his time on the court. The Express made it to the Finals but did not make it over the hump, and Larry was out of WBL after one year when league folded in 1992.

Michael Jordan