Sunday, September 13, 2009
Michael Jordan and the Basketball Hall of Fame...
People often wonder what it takes to become the best at one's chosen profession. Aside from the remarkable physical attributes, some obvious (height, athleticism) and some not (enormous hands-Jordan has fingers that are an inch longer than an average 6'5" man, which made his patented illegal palming on offensive forays to the basket that much easier) there is the mental aspect-the drive to be the best. We finally got to see exactly from whence that drive emanated from, and I would argue that even his biggest boot lickers and fanboys winced at the unveiling of this man's monstrous ego run amok.
At a moment when humility would of served him best, Michael Jordan decided to take the unprecedented step of throwing almost everyone he came across on his way to becoming the undisputed best basketball player on the planet under an 18-wheeler full of nitroglycerin. And all of the gathered guests had to sit there and watch this enormous vehicle gain momentum and explode right in their faces.
It was obvious that MJ was huge a fan of the show "Seinfeld". This is why his induction ceremony took place when it did-during the made-up holiday called "FESTIVUS". First, it was the parties before the induction where the "feats of strength" contest took place, and Jordan once again dominated in classic style-
No one can pick up white women like Jordan, who is strong enough to lift two at a time with one arm. Then came the highlight of the evening, "The airing of grievances". And boy was his list long.
The vitriol he spat was visceral. The ganglia of his unbridled id was finally exposed for all to witness, and if one wanted to see what was behind that famous drive to be the best, I'm sure their illusions were shattered like a car bomb at an Iraqi open-air market. At one point I thought Jordan had prepared a speech best reserved for a celebrity roast, except none of it was funny. It was a hate speech worthy of the most virulent National Socialist rallies. I'm sure ex-Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels was applauding from whichever ring of Hell he now calls home.
Jordan began by slicing through his whole family and it set the tone for the rest of his speech. He did not refer to any of them with any emotion remotely resembling familial love. Oddly, one got the sense that they were nothing more than obstacles placed in his way, the very first people he had to stomp on and dominate while cultivating a legacy he obsessed over way before the media and adoring fans alike began to refer to him as "His Airness". He mentions his brothers and their pronounced lack of height and how one of them in particular was proof that "small things DO come in small packages". Nice.
What struck me was the monumental sense of entitlement and the rage that curdled over the most insignificant of slights. He brought along the hapless Leroy Smith, the man unfortunate enough to have been picked for the varsity squad over Jordan as sophomores, knowing full well the circumstances were not at all what we've been lead to believe. He then goes on to mention that the poor saps' game is probably no better all these years later then it was then, as if that even matters at this point in either man's life.
He even takes the samurai sword to his college coach at North Carolina, the legendary and beloved Dean Smith. You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone with a bad word to say about him, but true to form Michael does. During his freshman year, Smith had the audacity to leave Jordan off a Sports Illustrated cover, posing instead with the other four starters who were returning from the year before. Didn't Smith know that this was THEE Michael Jordan? How dare he? This was just another in a series of seemingly never-ending slights that fed Jordan's furious drive.
And we got to hear them ALL. From the alleged freeze-out he suffered as a rookie during his first NBA All-Star game by Isaiah Thomas, George Gervin and Magic Johnson(who allegedly conspired to keep the ball out of his hands as much as possible because of the collective sentiment around the league that Jordan was too big for his britches), to Bulls management, specifically the two Jerrys-Krause and Reinsdorf, to Bryon Russell, who remains in his sights to this very day (yeah, I know-what the fuck is THAT one all about) to Doug Collins and his disregard of Jordan's "Love of the Game" clause while recovering from injury(Collins got fired in no small part due to Jordan's wishes and replaced by the obsequious, ball-sucking Phil Jackson-that's right, I said it)-but he saved the worst part for last.
He undiplomatically told his three children sitting in the front row he would not want to be them because of the burden of expectations his legacy has placed on them. How utterly lacking in charm. But it gets more surreal. He then goes off on a tirade against the Hall of Fame for raising ticket prices to $1,000 a seat for the induction ceremony (did he not know Michael Jordan was being inducted?).
He grudgingly paid the money because he needed to make sure everyone that ever got in his way was there to get hammered, mercilessly and unceremoniously. Jordan "thanking" all of these people for providing the necessary motivation that fueled his unquenchable desire to be NUMERO UNO was akin to the scene in the movie "Blow" when Johhnie Depp's character is flown off to Medellin to meet drug lord Pablo Escobar. Escobar is seen escorting a man to a wall where he is given a handshake and a pat on the shoulder by "El Padrino" himself-right before one of his goons executes him with a shot to the head. He then casually strolls over to Depp and says "That man, yes, he was a man of honor..." That must of been what it felt like being memorialized by Jordan that evening.
And that irrational, psychotic anger was at the centerpiece of Michael Jordan's speech. So now we know what it takes to be that guy-
1) Be born a freak of nature.
2) Find an excuse to rage against every petty offense.
3) Take EVERYTHING personally and hold grudges to the bitter end, even after you've gotten the upper hand.
4) Make sure you have the upper hand/last laugh in ANY situation, even if it takes YEARS to execute said vendetta (for example, during a HoF induction speech).
In other words, be a complete and utter ASSHOLE.
This is the song that should of been played at his induction ceremony-it pretty much sums him up in a nutshell-
And he left the stage with this interesting quote-
"“One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50,” he said, to laughter. “Oh don’t laugh, don’t laugh. Never say never. Because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.”
This is what we have to look forward to-one day, we'll see Jordan embarrassing himself again and tarnishing his legacy like he did when he played with the Wizards, a pathetic shadow of his former self (a glorified, overweight jump shooter with crotchety knees and no hops left in the tank) and a poster boy for athletes who don't know when to hang up their jockstrap, even when they've done everything there is to do in their chosen professional sport.