For eight years now, Michael Jordan has carried the load for the Chicago
Bulls, During the same time, George Koehler has carried the load for Michael
Jordan tabs Koehler as his go-to guy, the one man he counts on in
last-minute situations. Koehler, a 30-year-old Chicago native serves Jordan as
chauffeur, body guard, advisor, companion at promotional and public
appearances, confidant, Ping-Pong partner and personal assistant, among a dozen
If he had a title, it would be Michael's main man. Koehler was the one man
who knew Jordan's whereabouts when he didn't show up when the Bulls were
honored at the White House in October.
"Now, you see, I can't tell you that," Koehler confesses. "I get phone calls
all the time about that stuff. Michael doesn't know. When Magic came down HIV
positive, I got about 100 calls. I would never let Michael be bothered with
Koehler admits he's lucky to have this job. Actually it may be fate.
Eight years ago this past September, Koehler had started his own limousine
service and made a trip to O'Hare airport in search of a customer. As
passengers departed from the flight he went to meet, Koehler couldn't find his
After the plane emptied of all but one person, fate soon smiled on George
"I saw this guy walk off the plane and I said, 'Oh my God, it's Larry
Jordan,' " Koehler said. "Larry Jordan is a guy I played high school
After realizing it was really Michael Jordan, Koehler admitted feeling the
least bit embarrassed.
"Anyway, Michael walks off and he needs a ride. I told him I would take him
anywhere he wanted to go for 25 bucks."
Koehler drove Jordan to the Hyatt Hotel in Lincolnwood where the Bulls
housed their rookies for training camp. He dropped Michael off, left him a
business card and they parted company.
Koehler figured that was the last he had seen of Michael Jordan.
"Well, the telephone rings 10 days later," Koehler recounts, "and a voice
says, 'George my boy, this is MJ.' Well I responded, 'I don't know any MJ, you
must have the wrong number.'"
Jordan hired Koehler to pick up his parents at the airport and bring them to
his first professional exhibition game at East Chicago High School. Koehler has
been his personal wheel man ever since.
Koehler's responsibilities range from staking out Jordan's house waiting for
deliveries to running interference for him as he leaves Chicago Stadium after
Bulls games. He goes to great extents to execute on Michael's behalf.
One day such effort almost killed him.
Five years ago, Jordan appeared at Chicago's Bud Billiken Parade, an annual
event honoring one of the city's most famous black citizens. Koehler's duty was
to escort Michael from the McDonald's float into a limousine and off into the
"Well, 1,500 kids rush the float," Koehler explained. "We had a security
guard inside the limo, and he couldn't get out to help Michael. We had to
violently push people away from the car. Once we got Michael in, it took us 25
minutes to go 50 feet.
"I've never feared for my life like that."
Koehler doesn't mind being the guy who people try to push out of the way to
get to Michael Jordan. His standard quip reads, "Hey, if I wanted to be in the
limelight, I would go on tour with Madonna."
Koehler's contract with Jordan rests on a handshake. He makes no salary, but
stresses, "I get taken care of." He will go on working for Michael as long as
Jordan asks him too, for he considers this opportunity something he could never
put a price on.
"I'm hanging with the world's greatest athlete. How many people would pay to
do that? I honestly can't believe this has happened to my life."
Call it fate.