This article will tell you about the story behind arguably the greatest crossover in history
In the spring of 1992, Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson, two worldwide icons with incomparable talents, collaborated in what would become one of the most memorable collaborations in music and sports history.
The two celebrities met on the shoot of the video for “Jam,” the fourth single from Jackson’s 8x multi-platinum album Dangerous.
Despite the song’s lyrics referencing governmental corruption, Jackson wanted the video to be basketball-themed and invited Jordan to participate in its creation.
“Michael (Jackson) was a huge fan of Michael Jordan,” the video’s producer Phil Rose told ESPN in 2013. “When you’re at that level, if you want to work with someone that you’re a fan of, I’m sure it’s quite easy to work out.”
Jordan was initially hesitant to participate in the video for fear of embarrassment, but the opportunity to work with the King of Pop was too amazing to pass up.
“First I said, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this, because this guy’s going to try to get me out there to dance, and that’s going to be really embarrassing,'” Jordan told ESPN.
“But then I said: ‘Well, shoot, it’s Michael Jackson. When would you ever get an opportunity to get to know him socially for a little bit, and yet at the same time, get to do his video?’ So I changed my mind and went on and did it.”
Jordan got one over on Jackson by doing what he does best — playing basketball — after straining to learn the dance skills.
“I got to work with the greatest sports legend of all time, Michael Jordan,” Jackson said. “We had to play one-on-one; it was so embarrassing. He never missed, that was the object, for him to teach me to play basketball and for me to teach him to dance.”
To accommodate Jordan’s schedule with the Bulls, Jackson agreed to film the video in Chicago during the NBA season. Because of the duo’s celebrity, the Chicago Police Department had to tighten up security in order to prevent chaos.
“When Michael Jackson arrived [to the set], he was very secretive,” Rose said. The police chief was just like, “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me it was Michael Jackson. This is crazy. We’ve got to get more police here. This could be a riot.” I was like, “OK, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
“Then Michael Jordan pulled in. He just drove up to the set and parked, got out. The police chief just looked at me like, “Are you f—ing kidding me?” [laughs] I said, “Well, it’s actually Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson together.” And he’s like, “Oh my god.” So they beefed up security.”
When Jackson jetted off for a lunch date, the production crew had to postpone filming for several days in order to balance the schedules of possibly the greatest performer and basketball player of all time.
“I called to say, “Michael, we need you on the set,” and his people said, “Well, he won’t be there until later,” Rose said. “And I said, “Oh, OK, well we can probably fill the morning with some work, but what time do you think he’ll be here?” And so they said, “Well, he’ll probably be there in a couple of days.” I said, “Wait, we’re in Chicago. He was here just yesterday. What happened?” They said, “He had a lunch appointment.” And I said, “Oh, OK, can he cancel it because [the video setup is] expensive?” And they said, “Oh, it’s with the President.” [George Bush at the time.] So I was like, “Oh, OK [laughs].” His schedule is a lot more out of my realm.”
Despite being published to YouTube 17 years after its initial release, “Jam” has over 72 million views and is Jordan’s second-most-watched video on the platform. The Jordan and Jackson autographed ball seen in the film sold for $297,000 at auction in 2010.