Michael "Air" Jordan. The name is synonymous with greatness.
He needs no introduction, everyone knows who he is. For the better part of two decades, M.J. epitomized what a winner was, "I wanna be like Mike" sums it up—six rings says it all.
Jordan has compiled a laundry list of accomplishments in his phenomenal, once in a lifetime career. He averaged 31.6 points per game, was a five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and 10-time first team all NBA. Not one three-peat, but two; 1990-92 and 1995-97, going 6-for-6 in the NBA Finals.
Jordan was the NBA's Rookie of the Year in 1984-85, quickly becoming the face of the once dismal Chicago Bulls franchise. Face of a franchise? How about the face of the NBA. No player commanded the attention and respect that Jordan did.
Grace meets power. Jordan moved with such beauty on the basketball court, effortlessly (it seemed) scoring at will—he truly was in a league of his own.
Scoring wasn't the only thing "Air" Jordan was proficient at. He was a 10-time first team NBA defensive team. Count 'em, 10 times. Defensive player of the year 1987-88, and arguably the greatest athlete ever.
I remember the posters on my wall, the need to have the new Jordans, and wishing with all my heart that he one day might become a Piston.
To me, and many others like me, Michael Jordan was a god amongst men. He was "that guy". Shooting around by myself on the basketball court, like many of you, I mimicked his every move. Sticking out my tongue as I drove to the basket, hitting the game winning shot, he made it look so easy. Hard to believe that he was cut from his high school basketball team as a sophomore, isn't it ?
Second all-time in steals, fourth all-time in points, and he tops the list when it comes to "clutch performances".
Down by a bucket with just seconds left? It was all eyes on M.J. His opponents knew he was going to get the ball, the question was "How do we stop him from scoring?" It was almost automatic. I can't count how many times his "Airness" single handedly destroyed teams. Ask anyone who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers during Sir Michael's reign... namely, Craig Ehlo.
Fourteen time All-Star and a six-time NBA Finals MVP. If you wanted a ring in the 90s, you knew that road led to Chicago.
1992 USA Olympic team member of the "Dream Team".
Two-time Gold Medal winner, 1984 and 1992—truly magical moments, it was nearly unfair for the international players to have to compete against the ambassador of basketball.
Three NBA All-Star Game MVP's and slam dunk competition titles. An iconic image of Jordan, the "jumpman" has become a symbol of greatness in itself.
A string of seven NBA scoring titles, starting in 1986-87. The list goes on and on.
The number "23" goes hand and hand with Mike. To have the number on your jersey is an honor of it's own.
The shoes. The commercials. The endorsements. I ate Wheaties because I thought it would make me more like Mike.
Sadly, the day had to come that M.J. retired. Well, twice actually. He came back as a Washington Wizard, where he still managed to average over 20 points per game. He has been an Idol to players world-wide. Words cannot describe the feeling I still get watching old game highlights of Michael gliding, slicing, and weaving to the rack.
One handed, switching hands, tongue out, legs spread as if he were ready to take off. That's how I will always think of Michael Jordan. There should be no question, debate, or qualms calling Jordan the Greatest Of All Time. He was basketball. He will always be basketball...
Jordan carried himself with such dignity, respect, and confidence on the court that you could not help but idolize him. In an era where basketball needed a savior, Jordan was there. He competed against the likes of Magic, Larry Bird, and "Zeke" (Isiah Thomas), some of the era's elite. He was the man that you wish was on your team, and no matter what, you couldn't help being a Bulls fan.
If a player ever "owned" a city, it was his "Airness". He will go into the Hall of Fame as a Bull, he was always be the face of the Bulls, and twenty years from now, players will still talk about "Air Jordan". My six year old nephew knows who Michael Jordan is, it's that deep.
Jordan has created a legacy that just simply cannot be touched. I was blessed to watch Jordan dominate like no other, while the younger generation will only get to see highlights.
To this day, I still love the shoes.
I respect what he did for not just basketball, but for sports in general. Jordan is a class act, and will now be enshrined in rightful "resting" place, The Basketball Hall of Fame.
"It must've been the shoes, ya know, ya know, ya know." It was a pleasure, your Airness.