What would wearing jersey number 12 mean if wearing 23 was Jordan’s aspiration to be half as good as his brother Larry who wore 45?
Would the famously superstitious Jordan - who still wore his ‘lucky’ UNC practice shorts under his NBA shorts - worry that his #23 skills might be halved if he wore the nameless #12?
Worry or not it was not to be the case. Nameless #12 mercilessly dropped 49 points on the Orlando Magic on February 14 1990 though the Magic did hold out in overtime to take the win 135 to 129 in front of 15000 at Orlando Arena.
Given the next closest scorer was Terry Catledge with 34 points I think it’s safe to say Jordan wearing number 12 wasn’t something to worry about for the Bulls.
TL;DR - just show me the Jordan jersey #12 cards!
Checklist of Michael Jordan jersey #12 cards.
How did Michael Jordan end up wearing number 12?
On Valentines Day 1990 the Bulls were at Orlando Arena to face off against the Magic. Jordan’s #23 jersey was placed in the locker room by a locker room attendant and within 15 minutes it was gone.
At the time, teams on the road did not carry spare jerseys for each player as they do nowadays - there was a single, nameless jersey that the Bulls had on hand: the #12. A significant search ensued and crowd members wearing a #23 jersey were sought out in the hope of finding a matching size. Nothing turned up so Jordan was forced to wear the spare number 12 jersey.
Do we know what happened to the number 23?
As it turns out, its said to be some serious Mission: Impossible style shenanigans.
Apparently the jersey was ultimately found behind a ceiling tile. The would-be thief crawled through the ceiling, down into the locker room by removing the tile, grabbed the #23 jersey, stashed it in the ceiling and escaped back through the ceiling cavity carefully returning the tile to its resting place to leave no trace. Yahoo Sport - linked above - reports the would-be ‘Ethan Hunt’ turned out to be a security employee.
Perhaps the hoopla around the missing jersey spooked the thief enough to encourage them to give up on the subsequent retrieval mission.
Highlights from the game Jordan wore #12
The NBA YouTube channel has highlights from the game Jordan set the still standing record for most points scored by a Bulls player wearing number 12.
Michael Jordan jersey number 12 cards
Card collections as a documentation of history are a fun aspect of collecting. And this moment in time is one you can easily include.
1990-91 Hoops Sam Vincent
The OG Jordan wearing #12 card is #223 from the 90-91 Hoops set. This card - which presumably snuck through Hoops quality control - features one of the best Michael Jordan shadow cards you can buy.
We see Jordan in the foreground of the Sam Vincent card wearing the #12 jersey. I said above that this presumably snuck through the QC process - that is because Hoops reissued the Sam Vincent card in series tow with a different photo after it became well known.
This is the only card from the period of the number 12 jersey which captured the moment. All cards below were released in subsequent years.
1997-98 Upper Deck MJ Visions #MJ8
The photo used on this card makes it onto each of the subsequent Jordan #12 jersey cards below. The MJ Visions 30 card set features this card at #MJ8.
1997-98 SP Authentic Authentics #J2 Michael Jordan Game Night
We get three photos of Jordan in the #12 jersey here - including one showing it is nameless. The same photo as used on the previous and subsequent Upper Deck cards can be seen deep-etched at the bottom right. Being serial numbered to 100 and a mail-in redemption makes this card by far the most rare.
1998 Upper Deck Michael Jordan Living Legend Timeframe #31
This 165 card set is all about Michael Jordan. The first 120 cards in the set are known as the Timeframes which work their way through Jordan’s career to pick up on highlights from each season. The number 12 jersey gets a mention at card number 31.
1999 Upper Deck Tribute to Jordan #16
This card is part of the 30 card Tribute to Jordan set which highlights various points of Jordan’s NBA career. Accompanying the card is the inscription “Jordan suits up in a Number 12 jersey vs, Orlando 2/14/90”.
These 5 Jordans are the only number 12 jersey cards I’m aware of at the moment. If you know of anymore or anything turns up in future please do get in touch and happy collecting.