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John Wozniak and his relationship with Michael Jordan

One of the most irreverent characters of "The last Dance"

John Wozniak and his relationship with Michael Jordan One of the most irreverent characters of The last Dance

"The Last Dance" gave everyone the opportunity to get to know the real Michael Jordan. It was not, however, only a historical cross-section on his iconic figure, but he gave way to the whole world to see and understand what it meant to be next to a legend. Next to the legend of MJ there was often John Michael Wozniak, one of the funniest security men who during the sixth episode challenges Michael and wins a bet. In the last few hours Complex has resumed an interview of his dated October 2016, in which Wozniak retraces his moments and his relationship with Jordan.

Joining Jordan's security may be a privilege, but at the same time it is a task of extreme responsibility. Wozniak's story begins in the 1970s, when he becomes a policeman from the Chicago district. He becomes "famous" above all thanks to a photo by John Biever of Sports Illustrated. It was May 5, 1992 and Michael Jordan, surrounded by security dressed in the classic yellow jacket, the same that years later will end up in a Jordan Brand collection, comes out of his black Ferrari Testarossa - license plate "M Air J".

In this long chat with the Complex reporter, Wozniak recounts his first approach to the figure of Michael Jordan and how the city of Chicago perceived his presence. The stories are many, but John focuses on his beginning and on how he joined MJ in every moment of his "tiring" career.

I was a Chicago police officer. I joined the Chicago Police Department in 1970. When this picture was taken, me and everyone else in this photo were working part-time at [Chicago] Stadium as security officers. That’s how I got the opportunity to work with Michael and his entire family. Two other police officers had befriended Michael, and he wanted them to provide security for him when he’d have anything to do outside of being a Chicago Bulls superstar. These gentleman approached me. 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.

Who knows how many have asked Wozniak over the years what the most absurd thing happened during the security shifts of a transversal icon of the 90s. John, however, displaces everyone and does not mention an episode related to the Bulls but linked to the Birmingham Barons.

Anytime we anticipated Michael’s arrival, we always had an approximate time of when he’d arrive. All the security was in place to anticipate his arrival. Everyone was lying in wait. Michael’s dominance and his championship career had evolved so quickly. He was a rockstar. We knew when and where he’d be, and we prepared ourselves for it. When Michael retired for the first time, he went to play baseball, and then he came back. We were located downtown in the office we had in the Omni Building in Chicago. People realized his car was downtown off of Michigan Avenue, and gathered as such that we had to have the contractor of the Omni Building take us underground. We crossed the street and were able to get Michael out.

The impression most of us had on "The Last Dance" is that everyone wanted a piece of Michael, even a small one. To others it was enough to touch it to be able to say that they had touched a divinity, something sacred. Wozniak, one who lived Michael closely, also reports the same impression: "People admired Jordan so much for what he did for the city. People even wanted to touch him. Sometimes they were frantic moments, but there never was no real harm to him".

Such a person so close to Jordan should have an incredible amount of memorabilia. Again, however, Wozniak goes against the trend. To the question "do you own many Air Jordan sneakers?" his answer is very simple: "No. I have pictures and things like that. Michael signed a picture of himself and gave it to me, the photo where he’s wearing all six championship rings on his fingers".

Unfortunately Wozniak died last January, exhausted from the fight against cancer. He was just 69 years old and a myriad of stories still to be told. Perhaps also for this reason, during the editing stages, Jordan may have insisted that "The Last Dance" appear on more than one occasion.