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NBA world celebrates Michael Jordan’s 60th birthday

PGA TOUR - RBC Canadian Open - Pro Am

OAKVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA - JULY 20: Five-time NBA MVP Michael Jordan smokes a cigar after hitting to the seventh green during the RBC Canadian Open’s Mike Weir Charity Classic Pro-Am at Glen Abbey Golf Club on July 20, 2009 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

US PGA TOUR

SALT LAKE CITY — It has been 20 years since Michael Jordan last played in an All-Star Game, but his presence still hangs over the All-Star weekend in a city he tortured during his playing career. Right down to the kicks many players will wear on the court this weekend.

“I love Michael Jordan, but I wasn’t really born when he was playing,” Raptors star Scottie Barnes said, summing up the thoughts of a lot of the NBA’s younger generation. “But you just see the things that you see online. He was incredible, he was a killer on the court, he had the mental aspect. He had all the aspects of the game that you needed. He was he’s a legend.”

Bulls players, who play in the shadow of Jordan — almost literally, his statue is outside the United Center — understand his impact and told K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago what he has meant to them.

“For me in my books, I always have MJ as the best player ever because without him, there’s nobody coming after him. He inspired us,” Zach LaVine said.

“I’ve said a couple times, he’s almost like a mythological creature. He almost didn’t exist. Some of his stats, you go back and look at his highlights, it’s like, ‘I don’t know if this guy was real.’”

“He gave so many generations something to chase after,” current Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan said. “I remember sticking out the tongue, doing the Jordan dunk, wanting to buy Jordans. Just everything about him culturally, the sport revolved around him, especially over the last 30 years.”

To celebrate his birthday, Jordan donated a historic $10 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which he has worked with closely since he was a player.

NBA Twitter was filled with tributes to Jordan as well.