Biggest Takeaways from Michael Jordan's NBA TV 1-on-1 Interview
With the NBA on it's single-day hiatus following the 2013 All-Star Weekend, NBA TV ran a series of interviews that included a one-on-one sit-down between Ahmad Rashad and Michael Jordan, delving into all topics.
Jordan was mostly answering questions that we've heard answered in the past, about this game and that, what he was feeling, what he was thinking, how he prepared, how he compares himself to this guy or that, but it was still as captivating as the first time around.
In Ahmad Rashad, a man whose broadcasting career exploded by the time Michael Jordan was reaching his heights, we had an interviewer who has known the man for years and knew just how to lead Jordan down certain paths toward certain stories.
In the end, new information about Jordan was really at a minimum, but the same insightful look back into the past was there every step of the way.
Even though there were no real breakthroughs into the question of who this man really is at his core, there were some moments and observations to take away from the hour-long interview.
Michael Needs to Write a Book
There's something captivating about Michael Jordan when he speaks. Whether it's the low voice, the calm demeanor or just the fact that it's Michael freaking Jordan, hearing him speak about the past is downright thrilling.
It's the stories he has to tell, the wonderful insight he has to give about the game and the tiniest look into the psyche of the greatest player in the history of the sport.
It's tantamount to listening to Babe Ruth talk about baseball, I'm inclined to believe. Just to watch as one of the greatest players in the history of his game talks about this and that, even the most trivial of nuances, is maddeningly intriguing.
I don't care if he decides to leave parts out. I don't care if there's any kind of continuity to what he writes. I don't even care if he goes around and bad-mouths half the league.
All I want is a book straight from Jordan's mind that tells the stories about the NBA while he was there.
He doesn't even need to talk about actually playing basketball. I would read a book just about experiences that Jordan had while playing golf with NBA players while he was in the league.
Michael Wanted to Stick Around
One of my favorite moments of the interview came when Jordan and Rashad were talking about the breakup of the Chicago Bulls in 1998.
Michael Jordan retired; Scottie Pippen was traded to the Houston Rockets; Dennis Rodman was released; Steve Kerr was traded to the San Antonio Spurs; Luc Longley was traded to the Phoenix Suns; and suddenly the team was led by Toni Kukoc and Ron Harper.
This wasn't the Florida Marlins breaking up after winning the 1997 World Series. This would have been like the New York Yankees breaking up after they won their fourth championship in five years.
Jordan said of the breakup:
We have to live the rest of our lives with this idea of...wow we could have won seven...or we could have won eight...or we could have won nine. We could have done all that.
It's not that Jordan seemed upset that he never won more than six titles, just that he knew there was something left on the table with that team.
It's a real travesty even 15 years later that the team broke up, for Bulls and basketball fans alike.
Michael's Hall of Fame Speech Is Still Controversial
Michael Jordan was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame back in 2009, and his induction speech caused quite a controversy.
The narrative was that Jordan was a bitter old man who had almost nobody to thank but himself for his success in basketball throughout his life.
How this was a surprise to anybody is completely beyond my comprehension. Jordan was constantly battling with teammates, pining on the past and was celebrated for his borderline unhealthy competitive nature.
That's why when Ahmad Rashad asked him about his induction speech it's not surprising that he was fine with what he said:
Most people say, that was the worst speech. OK, that’s from your perspective. If you understood it from my perspective then you would understand. I saw Pat Riley, he said, ‘I totally get it. I totally understand it.'
I’ll go to my grave thinking, I said what I wanted to say, I’m not going to change it and if you don’t think it was a great speech, it’s what I felt.
Michael has always been that person, and for better or worse he's going to be that person for as long as we know him.
The Best Tidbit Leaked Before the Interview Aired
Before we got to see the interview on Monday, a short clip leaked which actually ended up being the most intriguing part of the entire interview.
There was a ton of fluff throughout, but there was one thing that Michael said that gives us a look into what he sees as basketball success, and that's got to be worth something:
Even more intriguing, he talked about LeBron James as the more dominant player at his peak, and even about Kevin Durant possibly sneaking in the back door in terms of the argument between these two players.
It's the first time that I can recall Jordan mentioning Durant, and the strangest part is that he was the one who initially brought him up.
Perhaps there's something to be read into there.
Jordan Seems to See Kobe as the Closest Thing to Himself
We heard before the interview was released that Rashad asked Jordan a question about Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, about which player was the better basketball player.
Jordan picked Kobe, and it's not the talk about championships that was the really insightful bit into who both players are; it's about the attitude that they both play with.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 19, 2013
That's why the comparisons between Kobe and Jordan will always be the most accurate.
LeBron will probably end up being the player who dominated the league more thoroughly, so he's more like Mike in that regard.
However, when we're talking about sheer determination to not only win games but to demoralize opponents in the process, Kobe is the closest to Jordan, since the man himself retired.
It's More Interesting When Others Talk About Michael
I've said it a few times already, but Jordan's interview was extremely repetitive in terms of what we've heard from MJ in the past.
We know about his feelings after the Bulls broke up, about his desire to try his hand at other sports or with other teams after his "final" retirement, and we know a lot about the day-to-day workings of Jordan while he was a player.
At this point, the only thing that we can really get out of Jordan beyond what we already know are specific stories, which he's always a bit reluctant to share.
What really gets entertaining is when a group of former players and guys who were around the man back in the '80s and '90s get together. As soon as one guy gets going, the rest get going and we get a real look into what Jordan was like on and off the court.
He's Still Hardheaded Michael Jordan
From his ideas about who drove him to be the competitive person he is, to the thoughts he had on his Hall of Fame speech and everything in between, there was one thing that was obvious when he and Rashad sat down together:
Jordan is still the same guy he was 15 years ago.
There's always going to be the argument as to whether a 50-year-old man could physically play in the NBA, and if there's one guy that could get into shape it's Jordan.
However, it's undeniable that the mentality Jordan had when he was winning championships year-in and year-out hasn't wavered one bit.
He's got the mind that would lend itself to an NBA return; the only things he would need would be the desire and physical presence.