Videos the NBA community typically sees of Michael Jordan in his prime are incredible highlights of the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. His unbelievable talents created such memorable moments as the shrug, the shot over Craig Ehlo and the famous flu game.
Seeing Jordan in awkward everyday situations or out of his usual element as a phenomenal talent on the court provide for surreal videos of the G.O.A.T.
For example, what would happen if an awestruck, 22-year-old baseball phenom met the athlete he idolized while growing up in Japan? Well, we’d end up with the following video of a young Ichiro Suzuki meeting the Chicago Bulls legend.
With hindsight, it’s somewhat silly to think that a future 10-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove award winner, two-time American League batting champion, AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP could be mesmerized by another athlete. Even so, that was the case for the young, spellbound Ichiro as he met his idol Michael Jordan.
MJ graciously answers questions and asks quite a few of his own to get to know the young baseball player. The meeting between these two sports legends provides for a rare behind-the-scenes look and a truly surreal video.
But to me, the best part of the video is Ichiro’s hilarious Tom and Jerry turtleneck. Was he a fan of the cartoon? Was the Bulls’ practice facility kept at sub-zero temperatures? Did he not pack warm enough clothes for a trip to Chicago? Those are all questions I want answered.
Anyway, the meeting between Jordan and a young Ichiro is a genuinely human moment from a man with unbridled fame. But another video displays a cringe-worthy moment of awkwardness between Jordan and sports broadcaster Bob Costas. (Thanks to Bill Simmons, the author of The Book of Basketball, who mentions this moment in his book.)
Credit Costas for thinking on his feet and coming up with a decent save, but ouch. Calling Jordan’s wife his mom? Could a situation be any more awkward?
Needless to say, that comment seemed to take Jordan back to reality from the cloud nine he was experiencing after winning the 1991 NBA Finals.
Everyone knows MJ’s prowess as an amazing basketball star, but a fraction of his NBA prime was squandered when Jordan made the decision to retire in order to pursue baseball.
Jordan retired from the NBA in 1993 and signed a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox.
With the Double-A Birmingham Barons, Jordan batted .202 with three homers and 51 RBI. He struck out 114 times in 436 at-bats and committed 11 fielding errors. He did steal 30 bases for the Barons, but he was also caught stealing 18 times, according to Baseball Reference.
Jordan certainly wasn’t as good at baseball as he was at basketball. However, if he didn’t retire and change sports, we wouldn’t be graced with a fantastic interview between MJ and legendary Chicago Cubs broadcaster Harry Caray.
What could be more surreal than seeing an awestruck Caray with the alarmingly humble "baseball" Jordan? If you didn’t know any better, perhaps you’d think that the video was a clever Saturday Night Live sketch.
The two talk about the difficulties of hitting before Caray asks Jordan if he would consider a return to basketball. Ironically, MJ says that he simply plans to enjoy his retirement if baseball doesn’t work out.
I think that everyone in the NBA community is happy Jordan returned to the game he was truly destined to play.