You’re dribbling down the line, the basketball hammering the hardwood beneath your hand, and the hoop is in sight. You’re just about to take your shot when in front of you appears . . . Michael Jordan! The 6-foot, 6-inch tower of talent tries to block your shot, but you’ve got your game on this afternoon. Fake left, hop right, and shoot—it’s in. Two points later, His Airness smiles and shakes your hand. He is, after all, your coach today.
Since 1997, Michael Jordan, the former shooting guard for the six-time NBA championship-winning Chicago Bulls, has been downloading his awe-inspiring basketball skills at Michael Jordan Flight School basketball camps. But if you think “basketball camp” means worn-out balls, ratty nets, and smelly locker rooms, think again—accommodations, equipment, and facilities at the Las Vegas Mirage Hotel and Casino are nothing like high school. But this 4-day camp isn’t a relaxing poolside retreat. Attendees should be physically fit and prepared for intense, all-day practice with elite NBA and Olympic coaches and players like Larry Brown, Mike Krzyzewski, Chuck Daly, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as well as some “air time” with Jordan himself. In addition to one-on-one sessions with coaches and players, there are competitive league games for all players, and campers who don’t wish to play can still get involved as assistant coaches.
Despite all the hard work and sweat, there’s still a little room for some downtime, and many campers cite the networking and social events as a prime benefit of Flight School camps. A cocktail reception, closing ceremonial brunch, autograph sessions, a high-stakes poker tournament—even a ladies’ tea—are on the schedule. An experience like this doesn’t come cheap—rates for 2009 were $17,500—but there are perks aplenty, including Jordan brand shoes and apparel, commemorative gifts, photos, videos, and, best of all, the lifetime bragging rights to saying, “Yeah, I shot hoops with Michael Jordan. He’s pretty good.” —ML
Michael Jordan Flight School ( 503/402-8688; www.mjseniorflightschool.com).
When to Go: Michael Jordan Flight School is scheduled annually; check website for dates.
Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.
$$$ The Mirage Hotel and Casino, 3400 S. Las Vegas Blvd. ( 702/791-7111; www.mirage.com).