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Perhaps the most famous number ever worn by an athlete, this is the number worn by Michael Jordan in high school, at University of North Carolina, and, of course, with the Chicago Bulls. According to Professor Pi, Jordan picked 23, because his brother had #45, and he figured he was about half as good.

This number was used in a number of Nike's evil marketing schemes, and was often found on on the shoes, that bore his name, the Air Jordans.

When Michael "retired" the first time and went to play baseball, with the Birmingham Barons a AA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, he also wore #23.

Upon his return to the NBA, he wore #45 (his brother's number again) because of some strange rule (I never got the full lowdown on that). Either that or he was trying to just get more jerseys sold. However, in the second season of his return, he went back to wearing #23.

Upon his second retirement, there was some talk of retiring the number league-wide like the NHL did for Wayne Gretzky's #99. However, there were too many players wearing it, most in tribute to Jordan, so he asked that they not do it.

23 is also the name of Jordan's Chicago restaurant.


UPDATE: Jordan wore #23 for the Washington Wizards after he returned, again.

The 23 Enigma, as it is sometimes called, describes the bizarre way the number 23 seems to crop up in the most unusual and significant places. It is closely related to the Discordian Law of Fives (stating that everything is connected, in one way or another, to the number 5), since 2+3=5.

It was originally discovered by writer William S. Burroughs, who, while visiting Tangiers, met a Captain Clark who piloted a ferry to Spain. He told Burroughs that he had been piloting the same route for 23 years without ever having an accident. That same day, Clark's ferry sank, and that evening, while Burroughs was thinking about the accident, he heard a radio report about the crash of Flight 23 from New York to Miami. The pilot of the plane was also named Captain Clark... After that incident, Burroughs began keeping a scrapbook, detailing the odd synchronicity that seemed to surround the number 23. Two of the most prominent and enthusiastic chroniclers of the 23 phenomenon, Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, used some incidents from Burroughs' scrapbook and hunted down others to include in their epic "Illuminatus! Trilogy", which is probably where most people have heard of this odd little branch of numerology.

You have doubts? Come with me and let's walk...

Of course, when I first heard about this, I thought, "Oh, what a load. You could get the same results by concentrating on any number for long enough. Hell, I could do that with--oh--17!" Not long after, I discovered that 1 + 7 = 8, and 8 equals...23. Scary...
In my opinion, incidences of the number 23 in modern works of art don't count as part of the supposed Enigma, for the simple reason that just about everyone with any kind of (geeky/intellectual/artistic/conspiracy theorist) leanings has already heard of the 23 Enigma and may be intentionally using the number in their own work. It may be an in-joke, it may be done just to make the author look clever, or it might even be a subconscious decision.

"In the fantastic film "Rushmore", Max Fischer's phone number is "Extension 23" - AT BOTH SCHOOLS!! Now how creepy is that?" Er, not very, not too creepy at all, because "Rushmore" was written by a couple of guys who almost certainly read either Burroughs's or RAW's ideas on the subject. Furthermore, it was an imaginary extension invented by the ultra-geeky hero Max, and Wilson and Anderson probably thought it would be just the kind of mysterious concept Max would revel in.

On a similar note, now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I've used the number in one or two of my own stories.

Not to mention the fact that Burroughs was pretty messed up, and Shea and RAW simply revel in being or sounding messed up. Of course, that doesn't invalidate the theory, but I thought I should point it out, if only for the record.

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