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Michael Jordan finally gets to celebrate a NASCAR win with his team in person

Credit: Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

One cannot accuse Michal Jordan of being a team owner in name only as the sporting icon has been a regular fixture at NASCAR Cup Series races since launching 23XI Racing alongside veteran driver Denny Hamlin in 2021.

Despite all the appearances, Jordan had never seen one of his two cars reach Victory Lane in person until Sunday when Tyler Reddick emerged victorious in the GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Making the achievement even more special was that Jordan Brand was the sponsor on the No. 45 car this weekend.

It took six wins to get there but Jordan finally got to celebrate in person.

“Denny keeps saying I was bad luck when I come to the track, and today we proved him wrong,” Jordan joked with FOX Sports.

It wasn’t shaping up to be a good day as Hamlin crashed out alongside their other 23XI car driven by Bubba Wallace during a Lap 156 crash.

“Actually, he did a good job by wrecking so we can get up front,” Jordan told FOX with a laugh. “That was actually pretty good. But I think Tyler did a good job.

“Unfortunately, Bubba couldn’t finish. But the whole team did a good job. And look, I’m very happy to be here to see it. Everybody tells me when we win, we can have a good celebration. But this is the first time I’ve been here. And to my wife and my kids and everybody: Yeah, we did it!”

Jordan immediately celebrated the win in real time by picking up Reddick’s young son, Beau, and telling them they were going to celebrate.

And Beau offered a big ‘yeah’ with Jordan offering a big laugh.

“He knows who Michael Jordan is,” Reddick said. “Any time I have a pair of Jordans on or he does, I always ask the question: Whose shoes are these? He says Michael Jordan’s shoes. So yeah, I think in the moment, it means a lot, right? But as he gets older and everything, too, looking back on that, that’s gonna be really, really cool.”

To Beau, is he being picked up by a legendary sportsman or some guy who owns a shoe company?

“I feel like probably with as young as he is, more as the guy with the shoes for sure,” Reddick said. “The shoe company, right?

“I haven’t done a great job, and you just gave me some ideas of what to do in the future. I’ve got to probably play some highlights, some Finals matchups, and educate Beau a little bit better.”

Reddick recognized the importance of the occasion with MJ in Victory Lane.

“For him he’s come to a few races, and unfortunately, even as good as the days have looked, they’ve not ended with a win,” Reddick said. “So for us to win a race like that, be up front as much as we were at the end and it looked like it was slipping away, and then we get it back, man, it’s an unreal feeling.

“It’s great. I’m really excited that I was able to do it, but my excitement level would not change whether it was me or Bubba that got him to victory lane when he was here at the track. He means a lot to everyone here at 23XI. He makes a big effort to talk to me, talk to Bubba, talk to Denny, talk to Steve, talk to other individuals on the team and pump us up when we need it.

“To have him here to experience victory lane for the first time is really special.”

Jordan, a six-time NBA champion, and one of the most decorated athletes in the history of the planet made lofty comparisons about experincing a NASCAR win in person.

“This, to me, is like an NBA playoff game,” Jordan said. “I am so ecstatic, obviously for the fans who support the sport itself. And we’ve been working hard, trying to get ourselves up to compete against all the top guys in this sport. But we’ve done a heck of a job just to be where we are. And for us to win a big race like this, I mean, it means so much to me and for the effort that the team has done.”

Crew chief Billy Scott shared his driver’s pride that they could give Jordan this moment too.

“Honored that we got the first win with him being here today,” Scott said. “And glad he was able to be here for one and doesn’t think it’s a curse to come or something because there’s certainly been some ones that could’ve gone the other way.

“And just to see his excitement, it’s interesting. He is a study of the sport. I was talking to him before the race and he watches every Truck race, every Xfinity race, every Cup race, just trying to learn and understand what we’re going through and figure out how he can help from the owner side. It’s impressive. And just to see the excitement on his face, that’s what I enjoyed.”

Hamlin says this win is a benchmark moment for their team.

“Those are moments that the crew guys get to talk about with their kids for many, many years as well, right,” Hamlin said. “We got to celebrate with Michael here winning in his car. These are certainly important memories that these men and women are going to experience for a very long time. Beau has no idea the significance of his moment yet.

“So it’s great to see. When we got the first win with the 45 with Kurt (Busch) at Kansas in the Jump Man car, I mean, we have pictures of that all over because it was such a big and special moment. Certainly this one will be no different.”

Matt Weaver is a Motorsports Insider for Sportsnaut. Follow him on Twitter.

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