The Last Dance: Michael Jordan’s quarter-tossing security guard stole the show
Part 6 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary included show-stealing footage of Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan gambling on a game of tossing quarters with an older United Center security guard prior to a tip-off.
The security guard is seen unapologetically shrugging as he beat Jordan in the game and collects his money. The clip quickly went viral as people questioned who the captivating security guard was, later revealed to be Jordan’s late bodyguard John Michael Wozniak.
“RIP John Michael Wozniak,” Estee Portnoy, Jordan’s manager, wrote on Twitter Sunday. “He passed in January and I’m sure he has a front seat watching this from heaven!”
Though Wozniak isn’t able to experience his viral moment, he did get to tell his story to Complex in 2016, sharing tales about his time with Jordan.
Wozniak joined the Chicago Police Department in 1970. He was first introduced to Jordan after two other police officers had befriended the Bulls star and learned that he needed a security team.
“These gentleman approached me,” Wozniak told Complex. “I had worked with them in organized crime department in the narcotics division, and they introduced me to Michael, and Michael said yes. We would receive Michael’s schedule and see what our officer schedules looked like, and we’d accompany him to various events.
“I traveled with Michael to every major city in the U.S., but I also went along with his family on vacations, to events, even all the way to Paris. All over the world. A tremendous bond was formed, and we took it seriously. I have a special relationship with Michael that I share to this day.”
Before the quarter-tossing footage, Wozniak was captured in a now-famous photo of Jordan arriving to the old Chicago Stadium in a black Ferrari ahead of Game 5 of the 1992 NBA Finals. Wozniak was asked about what was going on in the photo, which he described as Jordan’s “normal arrival.”
The photo was used in a Sports Illustrated article and quickly garnered attention. Eventually, the Jordan Brand created a security jacket inspired by the one Wozniak had worn. Wozniak recalled coming back to the stadium for the 10th anniversary of the Bulls’ first championship and having Jordan sign that same jacket.
“He laughed and smiled. That was nice,” Wozniak said. “People had been telling me, ‘Hey, your picture with Michael exiting his vehicle has taken over the Internet.’ … I saw the article at first and thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty cool.’
“We never sought fame being around Michael Jordan.”
Wozniak also told a story of going to a tattoo shop with Jordan in Chicago.
“He said, ‘Put them on,’ and we all ended up getting [the Jumpman logo] tattooed on our arms,” Wozniak said.
Wozniak, asked if he still kept in touch with Jordan, said he still handled security for his property in Highland Park, Chicago, which includes the house with the famous “23” gate.
“I can call Michael anytime,” he said. “I just spoke to him the other day.”
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