As most sports fans are no doubt aware, this weekend sees the enshrinement of Michael Jordan into the NBA Hall of Fame. It has been discussed, on this site and across the world that more should be done to honor a man who is undoubtedly the greatest player ever to grace the hardwood. Adamo Digby gives his verdict.
Many athletes, in many sports are routinely called great. Of these players, only a small number truly live up to that tag, and when discussing true greats, most fall firmly into one of two distinct categories.
Firstly, and easiest to identify are the stat monsters, players whose sheer numbers, whatever the sport, demand instant respect. Examples of this are Wilt Chamberlain and his phenomenal points per game stats, Bill Russell's championship rings count, Walter Payton's running yardage, Gretsky's points tally and so on.
The second camp is that of intangible leadership, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, John Elway. I'm sure you guys know where I'm coming from on this one and can all list countless numbers of the man who you think is "the straw that stirs the drink"
Michael Jordan is one of the only players, in any sport who is both, and yet he is more. He holds numerous records, stats that make all discussion and comparison pale into insignificance. He also, by his domination, his will to win, his determination to overcome the odds, illness, injury and the opposition, lifted lesser teams to heights beyond their limit.
He took a rock bottom franchise and made it one of the top brands in sport. He took a small middle-of-the-road sneaker company and made it the world's most popular. He took a league—with the help of Magic and Bird—that wasn't even live on TV for the Finals and made it the most watched of all US sports. He changed the game, he was the game.
Many people have had many ideas about how best to honor Jordan—rename the NBA MVP Award, retire his famous number 23 across the league, name a wing in the Hall of Fame for him.
All these ideas are valid, but somehow they just don't seem enough, don't reflect the huge, indefinable impact Jordan had on Basketball today. Look at any court, anywhere.
You just KNOW you'll see kids in his shoes, kids with the baggy shorts he brought to popular culture, tongues hanging, sweatbands worn just below the elbow, supports on the left calf. Every court you look at, even now, you see kids who never saw him play still trying to be like Mike.
The logo at the top of this article is my small suggestion to David Stern and the NBA about how MJ should be remembered as The Greatest of All Times, for all time.