Our favorite Michael Jordan photographs by Hugh Morton

Michael Jordan April 1985
NBA rookie Michael Jordan lacing up his Nikes, probably April 5, 1985. I suspect there’s a future post in the making with this photograph. My quick fact-check revealed that Nike debuted the original Air Jordan in March. In mid May, The Chicago Tribune declared the Air Jordan shoe “a slam dunk.”

Many UNC basketball fans are likely aware that ESPN has launched a ten-part documentary series about Michael Jordan titled The Last Dance.  Episodes one and two debuted last Sunday; those will be re-run this Sunday, followed by the debuts for episode three and four.  If you are a fan of binge streaming television shows, there’s four hours of immersion viewing for you right there!

I suspect you might be looking for other activities to keep you engaged with the world outside your stay-at-home location. To help you with that, Jack Hilliard and I would like you to share with the readers of  A View to Hugh your favorite Michael Jordan photograph made by Hugh Morton.  Which one is your favorite . . . and most importantly, why?

Please look through the 124 images of MJ in the online Morton collection, then pick your favorite and share in the comments. If you wish (so we can see the image), copy and paste the Reference URL in your comment.  Here’s a screenshot with a red ellipse to help you find it:

Reference URL
The Reference URL is the permanent web address for a record in the digital library software currently used by UNC Libraries. Clicking on the box opens a pop-up window. Select and copy the web address in the top box, then paste that into you comment.

Jack and I have picked ours favorites: mine is above, his is below.  What’s yours?  Please let us know in the comments section! (Please see note below about comments with links.)

Michael Jordan dunk versus University of Virginia

Jack Hilliard

When recalling Michael Jordon’s UNC accomplishments, my favorite Hugh Morton image of Jordan was taken on February 10, 1983 during a game against the University of Virginia in Carmichael.  I think it is my favorite shot simply because it is a classic Jordan pose. It was a game winner, plus there is a beautiful Morton story behind the image. That story goes like this:

  • In early February, 1983 Morton got a call from C.J. Underwood, the longtime anchor and reporter at WBTV, Channel 3, in Charlotte. Underwood wanted to do a feature for his “Carolina Camera” news series about Morton and his longtime association with UNC sports. They both agreed that the UVA game on Thursday, February 10th in Chapel Hill would be a good time to meet and shoot the feature. As the teams warmed up for the game, Jordan came over to Morton’s court-side location, as he often did. During the course of their short conversation, Morton told Jordan about Underwood and the WBTV photographer shooting the feature. As the two parted, Morton said, as he always did, “Have a good game, Michael.” Following that fantastic shot, Michael, as he started back up the court, brushed by Morton and asked, “Was that good enough?”

Jack wrote about this photograph on A View to Hugh back in 2013, celebrating Jordan’s fiftieth birthday, in a post titled The Dunk for the Ages. 

Stephen Fletcher

I picked my favorite Michael Jordan photograph simply because he still has that youthful look with his quick smile, which Morton captured despite it being a posed portrait.  After looking into the background of the photograph, I came to enjoy it even more because yet another “Morton Mystery” emerged: the date of April 5, 1986 that has been provide in the online collection for years is likely incorrect.  A quick check of the Chicago Bulls’ 1986 schedule showed the Bulls in Chicago playing Atlanta, not on the road in Philadelphia.  Looking at the 1985 schedule revealed that the Bulls played the 76ers in Philadelphia a year earlier.  That date made this a rookie-year portrait and a “sneaker” closeup of Jordan donning an early pair of Nike’s Air Jordan shoes.  I love when looking deeper at a photograph unlocks more than meets the eye!

Clicking on the photographs above will take you to the records in the online database, where there are other image made on the same date.  The description for the photograph I selected reads, “Michael Jordan tying his Nike shoes; picture probably taken in Philadelphia, while Morton was on assignment for the 1986 edition of the “Carolina Court” yearbook, published by Art Chansky.” Mr. Chansky: if you’re reading this . . . can you shed any light on the subject?

A Note About Comments with Links

To repel comment spam, we have a Comments Policy. Essentially, the blog software earmarks comments containing links with a Pending status. I’ll be monitoring routinely the Pending Comments folder and approving them periodically.  There’s no need to resubmit your comment if it doesn’t appear right after you submit it.  If your comment is lengthy, you may wish to type it elsewhere (like a word processor) then cut and paste it into the comment box . . . just in case.

4 thoughts on “Our favorite Michael Jordan photographs by Hugh Morton”

  1. Jack emailed me to say he found the portrait in the 1987-88 (Vol. III) issue of Carolina Court, on page 122. It is part of an 18-page feature article on Michael Jordan with fourteen Morton-credited photographs. We’ll definitely need to team up and write a follow up about that . . . maybe after the campus reopens when I can regain access to the collection.

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