Anyone who follows basketball has heard the phrase "the next Jordan" at least a thousand times. Since his second retirement in 1998, the hoops world has relentlessly searched for a player to rival Michael Jordan.
At first glance, one would think that basketball fans are as anxious for the next Jordan and Christians are for the second coming of Christ. However, in all reality, I have a suspicion that we don't really want to see another Michael Jordan.
Scottie Pippen's recent remarks are not the first time LeBron James has been compared to Jordan. He was burned with the expectations of being the next Jordan since high school.
Now, Jordan's sidekick has said James could be better. With the Heat in the Finals, the James-MJ comparisons will be on the rise.
Unfortunately for LeBron, has just another player being set up for failure. Just like Kobe Bryant and countless others who failed to come near greatness, James will leave us disappointed.
The truth is, no one will ever surpass Michael Jordan. Sure, there may be another player more talented than Jordan someday. LeBron may already be that player. The reason we will never see another Jordan is simple: Michael Jordan is a mythic hero.
It's a dangerous proposition to speak in certainties when discussing sports. With that said, I believe that no player will ever have a career to surpass His Airness. His career was perfect.
His career goes beyond stats, awards, or rings. It's about the moments: The game winner against Georgetown, the shot over Ehlo, the slam dunk contests, the images with his first O'Brien trophy, lying on the floor with the basketball after winning his first ring after his father was murdered, and of course, the 1998 Finals game six game winner over Russell, his final shot in a Bulls uniform.
Michael Jordan will always be given special treatment in the collective memory. His competitive fire is glorified to the point that it has more in come with a superhero's power than a character trait. Just like the rare bad game, the adverse affects of his desire on teammates have been forgotten.
Whether one cheered for the Bulls is irrelevant. When reminiscing over Jordan's career, basketball fans speak in a tone of reverence. Michael Jordan willed his team to victory. Michael Jordan would not let them lose the game. Michael Jordan knew before he let go of the ball it was going in.
Michael Jordan transcends basketball. We have placed him on the highest possible pedestal. How can any real player ever come close to that?
As fans, we are like the guy who idealizes his first love. Every girl he meets is compared to her. As time goes on, the guy forgets every one of her faults...she becomes perfect. Obviously, every new girl will fall short. His ideal is unrealistic.
We have given Jordan the same rarefied status. He is in the class of Odysseus or Hercules, not Kobe Bryant or LeBron James.
No matter how much hype, LeBron can't best Michael Jordan. The narrative is already being written. Michael Jordan wouldn't have played like James in Eastern Conference Finals against Boston. Michael Jordan wouldn't have teamed up with a rival to win a ring. Michael Jordan wouldn't have done "The Decision."
We need to be honest with ourselves. We don't want another Jordan. It's a standard no one can live up to.
It's ridiculous to measure every great player against him. While we bemoan James for not being Jordan-esque, we are discrediting a truly spectacular player. His court sense and athleticism is unparalleled. He makes plays no one else on earth can.
It doesn't matter if LeBron gets first ring this June. Or if wins six. Or seven. In the history books, he's fighting against a created god. Regardless of how his career, or any future superstar's career, end up, the throne will always belong to His Airness.