By Chris Le
I agree with my esteemed colleague, Bryan, in the fact that the Michael Jordan-love has been a little excessive. History has been all too kind to MJ, who can seemingly do no wrong. This is an athlete who manufactures his brand of shoes in sweatshops, had a child out of wedlock, a possible gambling addiction, and on numerous occasions been unbearable to play with, according to former teammates. Yet as time goes by, his legend appears to only grow and become more mythical.
On the court, he is seen as the undisputed greatest of all-time, a peerless player without a single weakness. Off the court, he is a globally revered icon, whom any parent would be proud to have their kid model him or herself after. But it’s not only that people worship him, they yearn for him. They crave another Jordan so badly that they are quick to anoint any player bearing any resemblance as the heir to His Airness. Jordan is so liked, one of him just isn’t enough.
So it’s not hard to see why Jordan has a big head. He’s Michael-freakin’-Jordan for crying out loud! The man, or should I say deity, is the epitome of cool and a consummate professional. (Can you tell that I’m a Jordan nut-hugger?)
And when you’re that good, you better be cocky.
Take the two most dominant athletes today—Roger Federer and Tiger Woods. You better believe they have a swagger in their step. They, like everyone else in the world, know just how good they are. The separation between them and their competition is so great that they realize that they’re no longer competing against other athletes, they’re battling history for a place among the immortal. To be great at what you do, you must realize how great you actually are. But here’s the catch—you can’t be satisfied with that.
Jordan certainly wasn’t.
In his prime, Jordan controlled the NBA with such utter dominance, he seemingly toyed with opponents. It was almost boring for him because he was so much better than anyone else. To motivate himself, he found, created his own challenges. Why do you think Jordan always played his best when people doubted him (or when he thought people doubted him)? MJ loved nothing more than proving people wrong. But Jordan didn’t just prove you wrong, he destroyed you to the point where you were too embarrassed to fight back. And in order to do so, he had to break you down physically and emotionally. This is where his famous trash-talking and finger waving, in the case of his dunk on Dikembe Mutombo, come from. It’s pretty disheartening when someone drops 40 points on you, and on top of that, verbally and physically mocks you.
The basketball court was his personal sanctuary, and he viewed the fact that anyone would step onto his court to challenge him as disrespect. But the court was the court. Off of it, he was all class…at least seemingly.
But that doesn’t even matter. Jordan could literally piss on opponents, get caught doing drugs, pull a Britney Spears, and he still would be on the box of Wheaties and sell a billion pairs of shoes, because the dude could ball like no other. He’s Michael Jordan! Nothing else needs to be said.
All images courtesy of ESPN.com