Michael Jordan, The Number 23...

Baris GercekerCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2008

My NBA memories start with the end of Celtics-Lakers rivalry, the last days of Kareem and some more from Magic, and the Bulls taking the lead from the Bad-Boys of Detroit.

Yes, I loved that Pistons team too, but don't blame me, I was just a kid.

I was stunned by Laimbeer's laserlike three-pointers, Isiah's rapid dribbles, John Sally, Joe Dumars, Johnson etc. I may be confused with the names and time era actually—those are blurred basketball memories, back from the days when the "shorts were really short".

Then came the man with No. 23.

When you are a kid it is always about "who is better". And by "who," you always mean the individuals, not the teams.  Jordan or Magic, Jordan or Drexler, Jordan or Russell, Jordan or Chamberlain?

It is quite funny that these comparisons occur regardless of the players' positions when it comes to Jordan. The funnier thing is that these comparisons continue regardless of age and still the comparison is done against His Majesty.

Nowadays it is Kobe, Wade, LeBron, etc. All are "the next Jordan."  (Jordan was "the next Dr.J," by the way.)

Jordan was many things—I even cannot bear saying "was", I still want to say "is." He played marvellously, he made his team play marvellously, he defended well, attacked incredibly, shot perfectly, jumped unbelievably, lead his team, and always took the responsibility.

It was a great franchise, and the pack was in just the right place at the right time. Scottie, Horace. He even made Bill Wellington and Luc Longley look good. And the white shorties like Steve Kerr and John Paxon. Of course, who could forget the Big Chief Phil Jackson and his triangle offense. They were all there, all you ever needed to see.

Amongst the many programs shot about Jordan, one in particular is Air to the Max produced for IMAX movie theaters. It begins with the thing which I think makes him the best, something he says:

When I go out on court for a game, there can be a guy with his kid in the stands that day. And they are there to see the Michael Jordan that they have heard of or seen on TV. That game would be their only chance to see me play live on court. I have to show them that Michael Jordan.

(w.n: Those are not the exact same words that he says but I am writing without the footage with me right now, so, my apologies for any misinterpretations, but I guess I made my point.)

(w.n2: Legendary Manchester United captain, Roy Keane has a similar quote where he says "A game on the pitch may be my last game. I may have a heart attack right after or die in a traffic accident before making it to the next game. So I play all my games as if they were my last.")

Also his Nike commercials, and the lesson to have to teach about failing, has always been ringing in my ears at all times. The lines on the commercial may have been created by Nike's agency, but they fit in, and would have sounded weird if the commercial was for someone else. In a team where the stats of last minutes of the game are recorded in different colors of pens, he was always there, always taking the responsibility for his team, failing at times but never giving up.

After his first three-peat he retired—what happened to his father hurt him so much. Acted, played baseball, golfed. But he returned eventually, with number 45, for another three-peat. He took back his 23 and he was back.

I was heavily disappointed when he signed for Wizards though. And I remember the block he made in a game against his "real" team—that was when I thought "this man is invincible".

There are many legends based upon Michael Jordan—such as that he used to jump down from a two-meter concrete block down to sand, which made his calves stronger than anyone and that was what made him jump amazingly. Or, that there is a section of muscles in his knees for his jumping ability. That he has donated his body to be examined once he dies. Some may be real, some may be urban legends.

But he himself is the greatest sports legend that ever will be. Whoever rises to overtake him will always have a "...but Jordan was better" challenge, from my point of view.