What Is Michael B. Jordan's Middle Name?

It's hard to imagine Hollywood without Michael B. Jordan. However, before he impressed everyone with his stellar acting chops, people were only familiar with the name Michael Jordan thanks to the NBA legend. Then, the "Black Panther" actor came along and proved that the spotlight has enough space for two people who share the same name.

Due to the fact that the actor's name was technically already a household name before he kickstarted his career, 2020's Sexiest Man Alive once considered changing his name. Per GQ, "For his first acting roles, he appeared in the credits simply as 'Michael Jordan,' until the Screen Actors Guild pointed out that this name was already taken." It was then that he thought of switching his stage name to something far less familiar to the general public. "Small fish, big pond," he told GQ in the 2015 cover story. "MJ won that battle."

While brainstorming other possible stage names, it dawned on him that including his middle name — or in this case, his middle initial — was an option. That's how the name Michael B. Jordan came about. But what does the "B" stand for, anyway?

Michael B. Jordan's family calls him by his middle name

The "B" in Michael B. Jordan's name stands for Bakari. "My family calls me Bakari," he told GQ. "Nobody calls me Michael. Anybody that really knows me — like, knows me knows me — they don't call me Michael. My mom, even when I'm in trouble, it's 'Bakari!' My spiritual name — in Swahili it means 'of noble promise.'

At first, he considered using his middle name as his surname, potentially going by Michael Bakari. However, he ultimately decided that just the "B" was enough, so long as it's there. After all, it's a name he associates with people close to his heart. "That's why names are very powerful, you know," he added. "Bakari's something that's been said to me all my life by the people I really care about and respect."

Jordan also shared how his common name made him work harder. In a 2018 interview with NPR's Audie Cornish, he said that he used it as motivation to succeed. "Being named Michael Jordan — I think growing up playing sports and having a name like Michael Jordan, and I was extremely competitive, I used to get teased a lot," he divulged. "But it made me want to strive for greatness and be able to compete at whatever I decided to do."

Michael B. Jordan will break his family's naming traditions

Despite seeking success with a common moniker and not succumbing to the pressure associated with it, Michael B. Jordan revealed that he has no intention of following his family's naming traditions when he becomes a father.

During an interview on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," the actor, whose father also shares the same name (Michael A. Jordan) said that if he had a son, he would break the pattern and opt against naming him Michael C. Jordan. After all, bearing the name would mean that he would be in the shadow of a famous basketball star and an award-winning actor — at least, until he forged his own path.

"I am breaking that circle right there," he said. "It's too much. The pressure I had to live up to my dad's name and I'm not gonna put that on my kid." Jordan added that he wants his future child to stand on their own two feet. "He's gotta walk in his own shoes."