Michael Jordan is Dead Written By Robert Littal Email me your feedback and possibly be featured in my new weekly mailbag: [email protected]
My first serious girlfriend was when I was a freshman in college at The Ohio State University. Her name was Kim; she was at the time in my mind the perfect woman. She was drop dead gorgeous, she was smart, she was funny and did I mention she was drop dead gorgeous? We went out for about a year and a half before the inevitable breakup (more on that later) and afterwards I went through somewhat of a phenomenon. No matter what woman I dated after that they never measured up to Kim. Didn’t matter how sexy, how smart, how funny and etc etc. They couldn’t make me laugh like Kim, they couldn’t fit those jeans like Kim, they couldn’t do that thing with their tongue….ahhhhhh, but I digress. The point was that no matter how cool these young ladies were they just never measured up, the reason had nothing to do with them but everything to do with me. Kim was my first true love and no matter what anyone says it is hard to get rid of the feelings for your first. What does any of this has to do with Michael Jordan, if you think about it, it has a lot to do with how fans and the media treat NBA players today.
The NBA had a very bad image in the 70’s, drugs were a serious problem, attendance suck and the NBA Finals were being show on tape delay after midnight. It was a bad time for the league, but that all changed when Magic and Bird entered the league. The Celtics and Lakers rivalry ushered in a new era in the 80’s and set the stage for the person who would chance the face of the game. Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
If you are between the ages of 25-35 MJ is your first. You may have some recollection of Dr. J or David Thompson, but MJ was the first player you thought could fly. He was the first player that made you get a shoe because A- you thought it would make you a better baller and B- you thought it would make you a better “baller” (I know I have a diverse reading audience, so if you want to know what I mean by that just email me). He was the first to make wearing a basketball jersey to the club cool. He was the first to turn the NBA hip-hop. Everything that most Generation X kids and now young adults know about the NBA starts with Michael Jordan.
Besides fans and media, the current players in league also idolized Jordan, for many of them he is the player they model their game after and why they started to play basketball in the first place. From Harold Minor to Lebron James the #23 only means one thing “greatness” and that is why you see so many basketball players be it high school, college, pro, or the men’s rec league sporting that number. You think Kobe Bryant chose to change his number to #24 because he wanted to more like Jack Bauer or he wants to one up MJ?
The facts are that Michael Jordan is your “Kim”. A lot of you are too young to remember the criticism that MJ endured in those early years and if you are old enough you have blocked it from your mind. He was branded a selfish player who didn’t get him teammates involved and a scorer who didn’t understand the team concept who would never win a championship (sound familiar). The interesting thing was this didn’t just come from the media it came from players as well like Larry Bird. Most people now only remember the fact that MJ won 6 rings and is considered by most to be the greatest basketball player of all time. The problem with this is that Michael Jordan broke up with you in 1998 when he pushed off Bryon Russell and won his 6th ring (I don’t count the Wizard years). That was 8 years ago and it appears many of you have refused to let your first love go.
No matter how talented the player is, in the minds of the media and the fans they just don’t measure up to MJ. They don’t have the desire, they don’t have the killer instinct, they don’t make their teammates better, they don’t take over games, they don’t have charisma, their shoes suck, their commercials aren’t cool and etc etc.
Which brings me back to my relationship with Kim. We broke all those years ago and to be honest I have forgotten the reason, had something to do with being able to spread her wings or something like that, but that isn’t the point. After a couple of years and numerous relationships I broke off because I couldn’t get past the issue of finding someone exactly like Kim, it finally hit me. Instead of looking for a Kim clone, I should be looking at what made the young ladies who were interested in me special. Not coincidently when I came to this realization two things immediately happen, 1- I realized I screwed over a lot of women (no pun intended) and 2- to appreciate the past, but live in the present.
Michael Jordan was possibly the greatest basketball player of all time, but he isn’t coming back and it isn’t fair to Kobe, Lebron, Wade, Vince, KG, Dirk, Nash, Arenas or any star player in the league to be compared to MJ. In the efforts to find the next Jordan, you are missing out on The First Lebron. The King is doing things that a 21 year old shouldn’t even be close to doing on a basketball court. You are missing out on The First Kobe. Blessed to play on championships teams early in his career, but after many trials and tribulations, the transformation from Kobe Sykwalker to Darth Kobe is almost complete. You are missing out on The First D Wade. Passed over in the draft by teams who thought he was too small to play the position he is now trying to help a great Center who is past his prime to one more championship similar to what Magic did for Kareem.
Open you eyes people and you will be surprised at what you see. Michael Jordan is dead, it is time to move on.