Michael Jordan was married to now ex-wife Juanita Vanoy Jordan during the 1997-98 Bulls season which is the focus of the docu-series The Last Dance. Juanita makes a brief appearance in the documentary through photos and old press conferences but was not directly interviewed for the film. Director Jason Hehir spoke with The Athletic about the decision not to interview Juanita.
“I wasn’t interested in the opinion of any wife or kids in this,” Jason explained. “We had the storytellers we wanted and I felt like we had the story covered from every angle.”
Hehir’s comments came before the final episodes were completed and Michael’s oldest three children are expected to make an appearance. Not only is Juanita absent, but Michael’s current wife Yvette Prieto is also not expected to be in the documentary. Jason explained on several occassions that they wanted to focus primarily on Michael’s career in the 1990s not his entire life.
Michael & Juanita Divorced in 2006
Michael and Juanita met early in his NBA career at a Chicago area Bennigans restaurant after a Bulls game, per the Chicago Tribune. The former couple was married for nearly 17 years from 1989 to 2006. They announced their divorce via a joint statement noting the split was done “mutually and amicably.”
“Michael and Juanita Jordan mutually and amicably decided to end their 17-year marriage,” the couple’s lawyers said in a statement, according to People. “A judgment for dissolution of their marriage was entered today. There will be no further statements.”
According to Chicago Business, Juanita received $168 million as part of one of the largest divorce settlements on record. With the exception of a 2013 interview with Chicago Business, Juanita has mostly remained out of the public eye.
“I’m in a good place,” Juanita explained. “…I wanted to simplify my life. I got off boards, I downsized the way I lived. I had to because I wasn’t going to be in a huge house. I really looked forward to the basic things: my children and my good friends.”
Juanita Played High School Basketball
The former couple have three children together: Jeffrey, Marcus and Jasmine. Juanita made a request that none of their children wear No. 23 so they could establish their own identity. Michael and Juanita’s oldest son Jeffrey ended up paying homage to his mother who played high school basketball.
“I was always searching for a new number or a way to differentiate myself,” Jeffrey noted to Chicago Tribune. “In high school (at Loyola Academy), switching the 2 and the 3 was enough. I didn’t find out my mom played high school basketball until I was leaving (for Illinois), and 13 was her number. She was born on Friday the 13th and always had a feeling of luck around the number. Marcus was always a big proponent of 5 — the 2 plus 3.”
Juanita told Chicago Business in 2013 that she and Michael have tried to remain cordial for the sake of their kids. This does not mean they talk about current relationships.
“Mostly our conversations are about the children,” Juanita said. “I don’t remember him saying, ‘By the way, I’m getting married.’ Divorce was certainly new to me. I had to learn that you have to communicate. That it’s not about you or your ex-partner. It’s about making sure the children are all right.”