Diego Maradona is more than just a name for hundreds of thousands of Argentine people. Worshipped in almost every house in Argentina, Maradona's influence in soccer is second to none. Maradona's supporters even created a religion, Iglesia Maradoniana, or the 'Church of Maradona', back in 1998. However, while there are so many modern-day soccer stars who idolize him, Maradona's idol was, ironically, not a soccer player.
Diego Maradona's idol was none other than Michael Jordan, who is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. Although Maradona was roughly contemporary of Jordan, the Argentine icon was a huge fan of MJ. Recently, a picture of Maradona wearing Michael Jordan's jersey has resurfaced again. However, there's a controversy regarding the picture that hasn't been put to an end yet.
Back in 2005, Maradona revealed in an interview, "He (Jordan) is my idol, I would love to meet him to die. I think Jordan would have to be president of the United States because it would give it a sporty touch." The former Napoli star was seen wearing a warm-up jersey of Jordan from the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. However, while some sources believe that Jordan had gifted his jersey to him, others refute it.
There are a lot of speculations about whether Maradona and Jordan had ever met in person. However, this was confirmed by Maradona's post in 2017 where he shared a picture of Jordan and wrote, "I want to meet you, master." Moreover, in 2019, a year before he died, Maradona confessed that he still desired to meet Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods.
Despite his brilliance on the soccer pitch, Diego Maradona's career was marred by his drug abuse problems. However, the former Barcelona star's well-documented drug abuse problems denied him of his dream of meeting Michael Jordan. Maradona could have met Jordan back in the day when the United States hosted the 1994 World Cup.
Although Maradona was listed as the captain of the Argentine team, he was kicked from the World Cup after failing a drug test. The 1986 World Cup hero was also handed a 15-month ban from soccer and was served with a 22-month travel ban. Moreover, Maradona's history of drug abuse also denied him entry to the USA later on several occasions.
If only Maradona could have traveled to the US, he could have fulfilled his dream of meeting Michael Jordan. However, in spite of having a hostile relationship with the USA, Maradona never held it against the American athletes. He stated "Even if they are Americans, they are not to blame," and frequently expressed his admiration towards American athletes like Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Stephen Curry.
While Diego Maradona and Michael Jordan never met, their memorabilia went toe to toe in an auction last year. The fame of Maradona and Jordan makes any kind of souvenirs for them extremely expensive. More so, if the souvenir came from one of the many career-defining moments that they had. Thus, when Maradona's jersey from the iconic game against England in the 1986 World Cup went up for sale, the price shot through the roof.
Soccer fans remember the 1986 World Cup semifinal for Maradona's two moments of brilliance and outrageousness. The game gave soccer two of the most iconic goals in its history; the Hand of God and the Goal of the Century. Maradona's jersey from this game was auctioned last year and it was sold for a record $8.93 million.
However, Michael Jordan's jersey which he wore in his final NBA championship run in 1998 eclipsed Maradona's record. Jordan's final season or his "Last Dance", ended with him winning his 6th NBA championship with the Chicago Bulls. MJ's jersey was sold for $10.1 million, which made it the most expensive piece of game-worn sports memorabilia ever bought at an auction.