If you’ve missed sports as much as millions of other people feeling the effects of quarantine have, then chances are, ever since ESPN’s 10-part epic The Last Dance premiered, you’ve been consuming it ferociously. You’ve been reliving simpler times and one of the greatest dynasties in sports. It’s the ’90s all over again, and you low-key want to be like Mike, Michael Jordan that is, and either love or hate the Chicago Bulls as you did during their golden era. Great times.
For Jasmine Jordan, she lived through that sports dynasty with a front-row seat to the man in the middle of it. She is Michael’s daughter, the firstborn girl (she now has little sisters in twins Ysabel and Victoria), and though she and her older brothers Jeffrey and Marcus were protected from the spotlight most of the time, she saw the way people fawned over her dad as she shared him with the world. It couldn’t have been easy, but according to the now 27-year-old mom, soon-to-be wife and field representative behind her father’s lucrative Jordan brand, it was all worth it. It also helps that they’re getting to spend more time together now than ever before.
We talked to her about what it was like growing up with MJ as her father, how she’s felt about his portrayal in the hit Last Dance documentary series, finding love in a man who didn’t care who her dad was, and the way she’s keeping the Jordan legacy going.
MadameNoire: What was it like growing up with a father who was so important to people all over the world? You know you love your father, but what was it like sharing him with so many people who loved him, admired him and wanted to be like him when you were young?
Jasmine Jordan: The best way I can describe it is normal. It sounds crazy when you think of it like that, because he is an icon and a legend. Everything he’s accomplished thus far has really put him in this elite category and grouping, but no matter what, between him and my mom, they made sure myself and my brothers felt normal. It wasn’t a celebrity upbringing where we were doing events, and media, and the lights were always shining in our faces or anything like that. It was a regular day. He would take us to school, pick us up from activities and help us with homework. Little things like that where it felt normal. The normalcy only went away when we would go the games or we would see the media attention and the following he had. But my parents made sure to the best of their abilities that if we weren’t at that game and our father, if he wasn’t on that stage, that everything else felt as normal as it could be.
Would you say your dad was a present figure in your house and childhood during the height of his basketball career? Or did you find he got to be around more after basketball ended?
It was definitely hard when he was playing to try to do activities or bond when he was on the road and things like that in season. It was harder to work on and cultivate our bond, our daddy-daughter time. He constantly made sure to explain it to me. It was never, I’m not around because I don’t want to be around. It was, I’m not around because I can’t right now. When he was around, we cherished those moments. We made the best of it. He included me in his pre-game routine where before a home game, we would sit down and eat dinner together. I’m just watching him eat his steak and sweet potatoes. That was his routine. He ate that before every home game. We made our moments that way. Fast forward to now, it’s way better. Obviously he has way more free time between his businesses and making sure he has his tee time on the golf course. We definitely have a closer and strong bond, but I don’t discredit anything that we missed when we were younger or how things were when he was playing because I know he did the best he could given the job he had and the career he had. He definitely played a significant role in my childhood nonetheless, but he’s playing an even bigger role now since being retired.
How did other people treat you? Did people flock to get close to you when you were in school or even when you were dating because they knew you were Michael Jordan’s daughter?
It’s definitely always been the elephant in the room. Either everyone knows and they don’t want to talk about it or no one knows and I have to just put it out there. There’s no avoiding it to say the least. But it definitely makes it hard when it comes to making friends or dating and bringing people into my life and into my circle. For that reason I keep my circle very small. I don’t allow a lot of people in because that’s always going to be the risk; whether or not someone’s getting to know me because they want to know Jasmine or they want to know who I am because I’m my father’s child. There’s definitely no avoiding it and it definitely makes myself and my brothers question everyone’s intentions, whether you’re coming into my life for a genuine reason or not. But I wouldn’t change it. It definitely adds that extra layer of caution. Just having that, I guess you can say, sense of paranoia and fear of being taken advantage of, makes the true friendships and relationships we’ve been able to experience worth it even more.
How was your fiancé [Rakeem Christmas] then able to differentiate himself from those types of people? Opportunists that is, especially as someone who played basketball and obviously knows and watched Michael Jordan. How did you know, okay, this is someone really serious about me?
It’s funny because my fiancé, I actually went after him. I put my guards all the way down [laughs] once I started to really pursue him. Even at that time when we first met, it was really just to be friends. I knew of him and obviously he knew of me, and I say I stalked him, but when I was trying to approach him at a party or message him on Facebook, I really put myself on the line. It was because we would see one another in passing and have small conversations and it was something I felt in my gut. I just knew, you’re different. I don’t know what it is about you and I want to know, but I can feel that I’m not worried about your intentions or how you’re going to be. As we got to know one another and have those conversations and hang out, it was clearly evident that my gut was right. He never asked me for sneakers. He has been a Jordan sneakerhead before me. He had them well before we became friends. It was just one of those things I never had to question with him. It felt like in the beginning, it was all about timing, and here we are, engaged to be married. I did something right.
You have a son and I know he just turned 1 and you were planning a wedding. I saw you guys had a small party for him, but how have those celebrations been altered with everything that’s going on? Would you be open to a virtual type of wedding that people are having now?
Definitely with my son’s birthday, it was hard to make that adjustment from having a family gathering and knowing my mom, my dad and my fiancé’s family weren’t able to come and celebrate. It’s a monumental birthday. You’re turning one. It’s incredible. We made it through the first year. It was definitely hard to accept that at first, but given the climate, I wouldn’t do it any other way. It was super intimate and it was so much fun for just us to shower our son with a little more love and a little more attention than we usually do. It definitely took him by surprise. He was like, what are all these balloons and why am I wearing a dinosaur onesie? What’s happening? [laughs] I definitely think it threw him off, but I think he enjoyed it. I think when we look back in a couple of months, weeks and years when we’re telling our son, hey, we did a quarantine birthday and this is what happened, he’s going to appreciate it. We still had the family element because we were present. We ended up doing a big Zoom and FaceTime call with my mom’s side of the family and Rakeem’s side of the family, my dad, so they were still a part of it, just in a weird and funky way. Nonetheless, it definitely was a birthday to remember.
Fast forward to our wedding, fingers crossed. I’m praying that with COVID-19, we’re still able to continue with our fall wedding in September and that we’re able to do it. But we’re also keeping in mind that everyone’s health is priority. We don’t want all of our family traveling down for our wedding and putting themselves at risk either. We’re just monitoring it closely and we’re praying that we can still have the beautiful union that we’re trying to have. If that means we have to do it in a small setting or do it virtually and get creative, then so be it. I think at the end of the day, it’s just about making sure our love is present, God is present, and our families are able to play the role they’re able to play, no matter what. But we’re definitely playing it by ear and praying that we can continue as planned. If we have to make changes then that’s what we’ll do.
Can you share what your role is at the Jordan brand? And how do you protect and continue your dad’s legacy through your work?
I work in sports marketing. I’m a field representative for Jordan Brand, so I am like the liaison essentially between the athletes and our brand. I represent our athletes that are signed to Jordan with the Hornets, and then I have athletes in Washington with the Wizards and then our women’s division that’s constantly growing and evolving. So I pretty much make sure that we’re marketing them and supplying them with the product they need to be successful on the court. And then on the backend, making sure we’re telling their stories in an organic way as well. And then our women’s division is starting to really evolve. Our Jordan women’s footwear and apparel is really taking off since we launched it a little over a year and a half ago. I’m able to contribute with that and share stories and aid in some of the color designs and things like that. It’s been super exciting thus far and I’m loving it. From a legacy standpoint, it’s all about making sure it’s authentic. When my father played the game, at the end of the day he left everything on the floor. There was not one game that he didn’t give his all and commit, and that’s what Jordan brand really is. It’s telling that story and everything that was behind the sneakers he was wearing but also everything that was behind the man he was and is today. So for me, if I’m able to contribute to telling those stories and sharing those moments in an authentic and genuine manner, then my work here is done. It’s all about just making sure the consumer hears about who he is and learns about who he is, especially as the generation coming never got to see him play. So it’s definitely something I’m grateful and appreciative that I get to be a part of and help evolve. But as long as it’s genuine and authentic, I’m doing my job.
Knowing your father in the way that you do, what is it like watching The Last Dance and the way he’s portrayed in it?
It’s honestly been eye-opening and super exciting to see. I didn’t see any previews or anything like that beforehand. I’m taking it in as a fan like everybody else and I mean, it’s dope. It’s dope to see how he really did what he did and getting to see behind the scenes and trying to understand why he is the GOAT that he is today. There’s definitely moments that you’re worried about and even he was probably worried about not being perceived properly, like the gambling and those stories of putting him on a pedestal. Or him being an a–shole to his teammates. All of those things could have a negative connotation if it’s not understood properly. That’s definitely something he feared and was concerned about and I was as well. I know my father, and I don’t want anyone to perceive him to be an a–hole or someone who didn’t care about society or being a role model or anything like that. At the end of the day, he said it best. When it comes down to doing what you need to do, there’s sacrifices that come with it, and those were some of the things he had to sacrifice to really cultivate his craft and become who he had to become to do the things he did. It’s definitely been incredible to take it all in, and I’m taking it in like a fan. It’s just something you hope everybody tries to understand and hear his perspective and appreciate the fact that he made a lot of sacrifices to do what he did. Either you get it and you love it or you don’t and that’s just facts. But I hope people do take his work ethic and his mentality for what it was, which was truly out of this world.
Do you think there will ever be another figure, particularly a sports figure and basketball star, like your father?
No. I don’t think so. I think it’s a different era and a different game today in how it’s being played. So you really have to get with the times, follow and feel out how the market is and play the game how it’s being played. During my father’s time, no one could touch him. He was and is to this day, one of the greatest if not the greatest to ever play the game. And when you look at the 2000s and as the game began to evolve once he retired, that was Kobe [Bryant]. That’s when Kobe stepped up and became the greatest of that era. And the game today, we have LeBron [James]. So I don’t think there’s a smooth or simple answer to say that he’s going to be the best ever because of how the game keeps evolving. So I definitely think as the game continues to evolve, you know LeBron may not stay on top either. Somebody else may come in and do the same thing. It may be his son the way his son has been balling out. Who knows? But I think it’s definitely going to be something that’s a topic of conversation as the game keeps playing. There’s never going to be a true final answer in a fan’s mind, but me being his daughter, I’m still going to say no one can touch him and he’s the greatest no matter what the eras are.