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Original Issue

John Rogers Jr.

For this former Ivy League captain, taking the Air out of Jordan was all in a day's work

His last shot was by no means pretty, but after the scooping lefthanded layup dropped, John Rogers Jr. was more than just the founder, chairman and CEO of Chicago-based Ariel Investments, a hugely successful investment-management outfit. He was the Guy Who Beat Michael Jordan.

That coup occurred in August 2003, in a one-on-one game (first player to three) during Rogers's fourth year as a camper at Michael Jordan's Senior Flight School in Las Vegas—but the story sure didn't stay in Vegas. The video, popularized after The Wall Street Journal posted it, opens with Jordan schooling several campers, then shifts to the one-on-one battle between the bespectacled 6-foot Rogers and the hoops legend. In the end the underdog won 3--2.

It turns out that Rogers, now 52, was a big player on and off the court before he took down Jordan: He captained the 1979--80 Princeton team, and along with fellow Tigers players Craig Robinson (Michelle Obama's brother and Oregon State's coach) and Kit Mueller (the No. 2 scorer in Princeton history), as well as 1986--87 Harvard co-captain and current Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, he has won three titles at Chicago's prestigious Shoot the Bull tournament. He served on Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid committee and co-chaired the inauguration for Obama, with whom he even played a few games at Camp David last summer. And yet, when it comes time for the Q&A portion of nearly every presentation he gives for Ariel, "inevitably," he says, "someone will say, 'Tell us about beating Michael Jordan.'"

As for MJ, Rogers says that he has bumped into his ex-foe on business travels several times. He describes those meetings as "nice and friendly." But, he adds, "I have no doubt that if we ever played again, he would kill me."