Today, Michael Jordan officially enters the Basketball Hall of Fame, and with it becomes immortalized with all of the other legends of the game. Induction into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor one can achieve in his or her sport, but one question should be asked: Is induction to the Basketball Hall of Fame enough for Michael Jordan?
Jordan is often referred to as the greatest basketball player of all time, but many basketball purists, and that is pretty hefty praise to bestow upon anyone. So while induction into the Hall of Fame is a great honor, I feel that something else needs to be done to honor Michael Jordan’s legacy.
ESPN’s Rick Reilly had a piece on this morning’s SportsCenter where he broached this very subject. I agreed with everything he said, except for one part which I will address shortly.
Everyone is well aware of the ridiculous numbers that he posted during his career, but Jordan was much more than a player; he was also basketball’s greatest asset.
Think of how much the sport of basketball has spread across the world since Jordan first laced up his sneakers for the Chicago Bulls; he was his own brand; a global icon. Everyone wanted to “Be Like Mike” and the NBA especially benefited from unparalleled success during the Jordan Era.
For someone who truly transcended the sport they played in, I feel Michael Jordan deserves a little something extra from the sport of basketball for all he’s done.
During Reilly’s segment, he came to the conclusion that the NBA should retire Jordan’s number; similarly to what MLB did with Jackie Robinson’s number and the NHL did with Wayne Gretzky’ number. In theory it sounds like a great idea, but I tend to disagree with his suggestion.
While Jordan did many wonderful things for the sport, and helped spur tremendous growth; all his accomplishments pale in comparison to what Jackie Robinson did for so many athletes. While Jordan transcended his sport, Robinson changed his sport forever. I was also against the NHL retiring Gretzky’s number for the same reason.
So what can the sport of basketball do to honor Michael Jordan?
Well my personal suggestion would be to rename the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award after the Michael Jordan Most Valuable Player Award.
There already is precedent for this occurring in the NBA. Bill Russell has the NBA Finals MVP named in honor of how dominate he was in the NBA Finals for the Boston Celtics. I think it makes perfect sense to name the highest honor a player can receive in the sport after its greatest player of all time.
I think we can all agree that Michael Jordan did more for the sport of basketball then can ever be repaid, but the sport should do whatever it can to honor his legacy.