Back when Irene Liao was in the third grade, she was completely struck by a Gatorade commercial. But not just any old commercial where electric-green sweat drips down some guy’s face; this one starred none other than basketball legend Michael Jordan. The image stuck with Liao, so much so that she spent a month that year carrying around a life-size cutout of MJ everywhere she went.
“One day after class, I walked into a Nike store with some of my friends and I saw the cardboard cut out of him,” Liao, who was an 8-year-old student at an international school in Taiwan at the time, told me via Twitter DM. “I asked how much he was and ended up paying 200 NT$ (about six US dollars) and dragged him out.” From there, Jordan and Liao went everywhere together. Now a 20-year-old college student, Liao recently shared several photos of her month with MJ on Twitter.
“It was one of the first few months of school and I remember dragging him into my gym class and everyone thought I was so cool,” Liao said. The cutout went to school, rode the train, and attended piano lessons with her. “I think I wrote a song for him,” she said. “Whenever my teachers asked me to choose a partner in class, I would be like MJ is my partner. SMH.”
Unfortunately, their time together was cut short. “My teachers sent home a note to my parents and were like this is such an unhealthy phase.” Liao’s parents promised to buy her a poster of Michael Jordan if she relinquished the cutout. She did, but says when they went back to the store, none of the posters featured MJ and she moved on with her life. Since then, Liao seems to have managed just fine without him. (No word from Jordan on how he’s been doing over the past 12 years, but we’re assuming he’s been fine.) Still, she’s on the hunt for a new version to cart around. “Honestly, if I can find another MJ cardboard cut out I’ll bring him around to my classes [at college].”