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April 10, 2018 08:44 PM

Sharing a name with one of the most famous athletes of all time wasn’t always easy for Michael B. Jordan, but he found a way to turn his connection with the basketball legend into motivation.

“I’m competitive. I want to compete in anything I do,” the Black Panther star, 31, told Men’s Health for their May cover story. “That came from my name. Growing up in sports and having a name like Michael Jordan and being teased, I had to compete. I couldn’t be the guy with the name and not be good at it. That carried over to everything. I’m like, I’ve got to be just as great if not greater than he was in his field.”

Michael B. Jordan.
Men's Health

Michael B. Jordan.

Jordan still feels that competitiveness, and said he would not want to meet his NBA counterpart until he feels like they’re on more equal footing. “I never met Michael Jordan. I never want to officially meet him until I’m at a point where he knows who I am and I know who he is,” he explained. “And it would be our mutual respect thing. Until then it would just be a ‘this guy has your name, ha ha.’ I don’t want that. So that pushes me to keep working too. These things motivate me.”

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When Jordan was born in 1987, his namesake was already a budding star in the NBA and would go on to win the first of his five MVP awards the next year. But the actor’s name actually has nothing to do with the athlete — he was named after his father, Michael A. Jordan. “He didn’t really realize what he was going to put me through the first 26 years of my life,” Jordan told Jimmy Kimmel in 2013.

Michael B. Jordan.
Men's Health

Michael B. Jordan.

Asked if sharing a moniker with Jordan is frustrating, the actor told the talk show host, “A little bit. It gets annoying.” Sometimes, Jordan said, people don’t believe that Michael Jordan is his real name. When one pizza shop over refused to place his order, Jordan said, “I actually went down there one time, slammed my I.D. on the counter. He gave me two free pizzas. It worked out.”

Now, as one of Hollywood’s fastest rising stars, Jordan is becoming a household name in his own right. He told Men’s Health that one of his main goals now is to ensure his success gets passed on to future generations. “Life is short, you know? I want to leave something behind,” he said. “A blueprint. A work ethic. Something that my great-grandkids and their kids and their kids can see: This is where it started. Lineage. Intergenerational wealth. Things that are here forever. All that.”

Jordan, who earned rave reviews for his performance as the villainous Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, can next be seen in HBO’s Fahrenheit 451, which premiers May 19.

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