Wilmington Remembers The Making of A Legend
Posted September 10, 2001 10:53 a.m. EDT
WILMINGTON — The state of North Carolina claims Michael Jordan as its own, but Wilmington is the only city which can truly say it watched the native son grow up.
As Whitey Prevatte, a Wilmington motel owner, watched his former summer maintenance man say goodbye to the NBA, he had a brainstorm.
"Well he was making $3.35 an hour, that was minimum wage," Prevatte said. "Now it's $5.15 an hour, you reckon he would be interested in coming back."
Joking aside, Prevatte could not be prouder of Michael Jordan.
"I know he was a good basketball player, but I had no idea that he was going to be the king of basketball," he said.
"He was a prince, he was a good guy that liked everybody, and had a lovely smile," says Jimmy Phillips, who was Jordan's supervisor. He says Jordan liked to joke on the job.
"His friend was standing there with his back to the pool and Mike came along talking to him and grinning and pushed him right in the pool," Phillips said. "He had a sense of humor? That's right."
If the walls could talk at Laney High School's gymnasium, they would tell of how Jordan's career began. They would remember how the basketball giant grew six inches during high school, and how the gym now bears the legend's name.
"He always had a lot of fun, a lot of energy," says Fred Lynch, who coached Jordan at Laney.
"I'm happy he had the type of career he did, and that he went out a champion," he said. "I guess on the sad side, the selfish side I'm going to miss watching. I enjoy watching him play so much.
"I think they're going to miss Michael, the whole world is going to miss him, but the Bulls are going to miss him more."
Wilmington residents hope they will see more of Jordan on his home turf now that he is not playing for the NBA.