Michael Jordan is the star of ESPN’s documentary The Last Dance, but there is one endearing character who stole the show during one of the episodes of the ten-part series.
Jordan’s security guard John Michael Wozniak was immediately noted, in part by his curly mullet. His son Nicholi Wozniak said Yahoo! Sports that he encouraged his dad to change his hairstyle. It’s like a lion’s mane. “This is my appearance, my brand,” he said to his son. “One day people are going to know me for it.” He was absolutely right.
Viewers will never forget John Michael’s hair or his legendary fourth release depicted in the documentary. While many apparently walked on eggshells around Su Airness, Jordan’s security guard was not one of those people.
When Jordan challenged him to throw a quarter farther than him without hitting the wall, John Michael won, and he hit Jordan with his own signature move: the shrug. That was not the only time Jordan challenged John Michael. “Once during a Christmas party, my dad beat Michael in the pool,” Nicholi recalled. “He kicked my dad out of the Christmas party.”
As tough as it sounds Jordan was supposed to be very good to John Michael when they weren’t competing with each other. MJ employed John Michael for the rest of his life. The former security guard and friend passed away in January 2023, at age 69, after a battle with colon cancer. When his health began to decline, Jordan urged him not to work and promised to pay him anyway. When he died, Jordan kept in touch with Nicholi.
Michael Jordan and his security guard had a close bond
Nicholi Wozniak said Yahoo! Sports that his father, John Michael Wozniak, was a veteran of the US Army. He worked in the narcotics division of the Chicago Police Department, in addition to working in security at the Chicago Bulls Stadium.
When Michael Jordan left the NBA to play baseball in 1993, he asked John Michael and two other security guards to quit their jobs at the stadium and work for their personal safety. They all did, and Jordan reportedly made sure to get his jobs back at the stadium when he returned to the league two years later.
During a 2016 interview with Complex John Michael spoke about his adventures with Jordan. “I traveled with Michael to all major cities in the USA. But I also accompanied his family on vacation, to events, even to Paris. Around 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.”
“I can call Michael at any time,” said John Michael, who was in charge of security at one of Jordan’s Chicago homes at the time of the Complex interview. He revealed that fans “come at 3 am to take a picture of the door.”
Michael Jordan sold jackets inspired by his security team
“We never seek fame being around Michael Jordan,” said John Michael Wozniak Complex. Still, he and the rest of Jordan’s security team made their mark on the history of the sport, long before the documentary The Last Dance.
In 1992, Sports Illustrated captured a photo of Jordan arriving at the stadium in a black Ferrari. He was surrounded by five security guards in bright yellow jackets. While Jordan always made sure he was safe, Wozniak claimed that “there was never any real harm to” the great basketball player.
He admitted that the work was “hectic” at times. “People were so amazed at what they had done for the city. It gave them a winning attitude. People just wanted to touch it.
The admiration for Jordan translated into an appreciation for his security team as well. That aforementioned photo of Jordan and his security team arriving at the stadium became so iconic that Jordan sold replicas of the safety jackets as part of a special collection in 2016.
Jordan and members of his security team made a close bond. Wozniak said Complex that they had the Jumpman logo inked on their arms with Jordan by their side.
Sadly, John Michael Wozniak isn’t here to watch The Last Dance, but his son, Nicholi Wozniak, insists his father would have loved it. He said Yahoo! Sports “If I were still close, I would not hear the end”.