by Maurice Bobb
Michael B. Jordan is done with dying. First, his beloved Wallace character was killed off on HBO’s The Wire with a bullet to the chest, then—after stints on All My Children and Friday Night Lights—his non-fiction character Oscar was fatally shot on a BART platform by a transit police officer in the transcendent film Fruitvale Station. Young Wallace and Oscar won’t be coming back, unfortunately, but Jordan is rising like a Phoenix from the ashes as Hollywood’s next big star. And judging by the way he balled out at the 2014 Sprint NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, the lifelong New York Knicks fan would definitely represent if the TV show he’s developing about a Michigan State basketball player ever makes it to the small screen.
SLAM: You’re a really good basketball player. Did you play in high school?
Michael B. Jordan: Yeah, I played in high school. Point guard, but in my mind, I’m a forward, my body just stopped growing. I like playing back to the basket but I like to contribute where I can.
SLAM: The game announcer called you Michael Jordan a couple times before he added the B. What’s it like having such a legendary basketball name?
MJ: I wasn’t even listening to what they were saying. I mean, I was born in ’87 and at that time Jordan was just coming into the League and he was becoming a household name. I grew up with a chip on my shoulder. It motivated me to be better.
SLAM: Is that why you added the B?
MJ: I almost made my actor name Michael Bakari. Bakari is my middle name. It means “of noble promise.” But my dad’s name is Michael Jordan, so I wasn’t changing it.
SLAM: It’s funny, you wore number 45 for the game.
MJ: They actually tried to give me number 23 and I refused to wear that one. I said, “I ain’t wearing number 23.” But I ended up going with 45.
SLAM: You’re living out in L.A. now. Are you a Lakers fan?
MJ: I grew up in New Jersey, so I’m a Knick fan. I’m not really a Lakers fan like that. I do appreciate Kobe and what he built there and I’m a big Magic Johnson fan because I’m a Michigan State fan, but I’m an East Coast guy. I love the Knicks.
SLAM: Who’s your favorite player in the L?
MJ: I love Kevin Durant. I used to be a Seattle Supersonics fan growing up, so I rock with OKC, too. I play with them on NBA2K. I’m just a fan of basketball.
SLAM: You not getting an Oscar nod for Fruitvale Station was a ridiculous snub by the Academy.
MJ: Nah man, it’s just great to be in the conversation. There were a lot of great projects and a lot of great performances. Everyone that was nominated deserved it. It was my first time out doing a film like that, so it was just cool to be in the conversation.
SLAM: So tell us, are you confirmed for Fantastic Four?
MJ: I’m not even sure yet. Like some of the projects I have I can’t really talk about yet, but you guys will be hearing some stuff in the near future.
SLAM: What about Creed?
MJ: Me and Ryan [Coogler], the writer/director of Fruitvale Station will be teaming up again. I’ll be playing the grandson of Apollo Creed. I’m really excited about that. Teaming up with Ryan again and working with Sylvester Stallone and everybody over at MGM. I’m really excited about it.
SLAM: You represented for the actors at All-Star. Do you play pickup a lot?
MJ: I play when I can, yes.
SLAM: Who are some other actors who can ball?
MJ: Jaleel White is actually a real good ballplayer, Flex Alexander is a really good ballplayer. Columbus Short, he got some game when he want to play, but I’d like to put myself up there along with the best of them.