Michael Jordan: 10 Reasons We’re Still So Fascinated By His Airness
One of my favorite players of all time, Scottie Pippen, gets inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight.
But he will have to be introduced...
By choosing Michael Jordan to introduce him, he guarantees the world two things:
1) Great stories about the good old days in the 90s when the Bulls dominated.
2) Anyone who has ever crossed MJ that he forgot to mention in his own HOF speech should be ducking for cover and leaving town; Mike does not suffer fools lightly.
But here is the question:
Why is it that a guy who seldom does interviews, doesn't work for a network and pretty much stays out of the spotlight except to sell products, is still so popular amongst NBA fans?
Here are some possibilities...
10. He Belongs to Everybody
I would say other than Tiger Woods (pre-car wreck) and Muhammad Ali, no other living athlete causes people to claim ownership of them like Jordan.
I hear it when I talk to older fans about Mickey Mantle. A generation before that talk about Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio that way.
In politics people talk about JFK and RFK and MLK that way; as if they knew them personally.
Hollywood royalty get the same treatment; Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, etc...
There is a certain level you get to, where it is blasphemy to compare anyone to you or to dwell too long on your shortcomings.
Jordan has been at that level for a while.
9. Crazy Uncle Disease
You know that uncle you have who gave you the coolest Christmas and birthday gifts?
The one who gave you toys even though your parents told him to give you clothes.
He was your favorite relative and could do no wrong.
When you got a little older, he gave you your first taste of beer.
Not the creepy uncle, the cool one who took you to the gentleman's club on your 18th birthday.
Remember as you got older how he would crack inappropriate jokes around the Thanksgiving dinner table, and you would shake your head laughing while everyone else cringed?
And he'd get you to promise to take him with you to the club, but you would sneak out when he went to the rest room to save him from being TOGATC?
(The Old Guy At The Club.)
But he's still your favorite uncle, right?
8. Timeless And Memorable Commercials
Every once and a while an athlete will make a great commercial and we will say "wow, that was cool".
Two months later we forget it.
How many MJ commercials can you name off the top of your head?
He made great ones and they stayed with you.
Which leads right into my next point...
Whenever my dad tells me a story that he thinks is fascinating or hilarious but I stare back at him blankly, he will inform me that I don't know anything and if I had been there I would get it.
Because of youtube we don't have to do that with young sports fans who didn't get to see Michael Jordan play basketball.
You can say "did you know once Mike was cornered and faked like he was going back out then came back to the hoop and dunked on Ewing?"
And if anyone doubts that it happened that way...
6. Kobe Bean Bryant
Not Dwyane Wade (maybe once and a while).
Not LeBron James (not yet, at least).
Not Jerry Stackhouse, nor Harold Miner.
Only one human being in our lifetime reminds us of MJ more often than not.
And because of this, he keeps Jordan's flame lit on the court.
People will say Kobe does it just as well, which will cause Jordan backers to scoff.
Either way, it keeps his Airness on our lips.
5. His Marketing Team
How many retired athletes can still sell product seven years after they retire?
And still have shoes with their name on it selling?
Nike helped Jordan as much as he helped them and they are both burnt into our brains.
Who else can sell underwear while sporting a Hitler moustache?
Now the guy is selling Air Jordan motorcycles.
4. Still Some What Of a Mystery
Michael Jordan was great at basketball, but he got some lucky breaks along the way.
Maybe if he was drafted by Portland, things would have been different.
He still would've been great, but maybe he and Clyde Drexler wouldn't have meshed as well as he and Scottie did.
Maybe if Charles Smith doesn't quadruple pump under the basket, the Knicks win one of his six titles.
But I would say he is most lucky because he was not around in the 24-hour TV and internet sports world.
Because then we would know a little more about his alleged gambling and alleged strip club trips.
Maybe some of the mystique would be gone.
3. Popular Friends
Every time Tiger wins a Grand Slam in some ridiculous easy way (remember when he used to do that?)...
Every time Charles Barkley has a microphone in front of him...
Every time LeBron James did something great on the court...
Whose name was always on their lips?
And now that Scottie Pippen finally gets his just dues, who did he have to get to introduce him?
The Worldwide Sports Leader loves MJ because he still moves the needle for them.
So every fantastic dunk, every title won, every steal and fastbreak all lead back to how his Airness did it.
But we love to see it, so I'm not complaining.
1. He Was Kind Of a Big Deal
If you are a true sports fan, you can name the best or one of the best that did it in every sport.
Even if it's a sport you don't know that well, you know the best.
Gretzky, Pele, Montana, Babe Ruth, Secretariat, Jesse Owens, Ali, Thorpe, Niklaus, Navratilova, Spitz...