Fifty-first installment in a series exploring very important people in my life.
Let me start explaining how this will work: I listed 65 idols of mine. Every Friday (with the exception of those reserved for the Rock Chain posts) I’ll draw one of the names (following a system that it’s really not important to be explained here) and talk about it.
Therefore, the order in which the names will appear doesn’t necessarily shows where they rank in my preference.
As a final introductory note, this is also not a biography article. I’ll just write how I feel about people represented in it, their talent and their importance in my life.
In every area of human activity, it’s real hard to say that someone is the best of all time. It sounds so definite that it’s even a little pretentious.
For example, of all the inductees in the Hall of Idols, there are only two that I can safely say are the best of all time in what they do: Paul McCartney and Ann Wilson. That was until now.
My inductee today is the best of all time in what he did and I don’t accept discussing this issue. Nobody could beat him in a basketball court and he achieved a level of excellence that elevated him as one of the most important Pop culture figures of all time.
Michael Jeffrey Jordan was born in Brooklyn, New York on February 17, 1963. His mother worked in banking and his father was an equipment supervisor. They moved from Brooklyn to Wilmington, North Carolina when he was still a toddler.
In High School, he was cut from the Emsley A. Laney High School varsity team and that, coupled with the rivalry he had with his brother on backyard basketball games, formed the basis of his unmatched competitiveness.
He became the star of the Junior Varsity team and when he earned a spot in the main squad he was the best in the country, becoming a McDonald’s All-American.
And from then on, there was no stopping him. He went to North Carolina high-school to be coached by Dean Smith and in his freshman year he made the game winning jump shot at the NCAA championship game, giving the title to the Tar Heels.
In 1984, Jordan was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the NBA draft and started his path towards immortality. Before, he managed to win the Gold Medal in the Olympic Games.
He was rookie of the year in the 84-85 season and the following season, despite a broken foot that made him miss 64 games, he shocked the world in the playoffs, when he scored 63 points against one of the best Celtics teams ever, in Boston.
However, as much as Jordan was happy in pilling up individual numbers, he was the utmost competitor and he wanted to win. More, he wanted to win not changing teams, but staying in Chicago and being the face of the franchise.
Therefore, after two heartbreaking losses to Detroit in the playoffs of 89 and 90, Jordan led the Bulls to a 4-0 sweep in 91 and the NBA title against Magic Johnson’s mighty Lakers. It was the actual passing of the crown of the greatest basketball player ever.
Jordan dominated the league in 92 and 93, winning two more titles and decided to retire and play baseball. After applying himself in training on the minor leagues, he became a baseball player, but the strike in 94 made him decide to come back to basketball.
And for me, personally, that’s when he showed he was one of the greatest athletes ever. The 95-96 season was easy. The Bulls cruised and had the greatest record ever in the regular season with 72-10. The Sonics were no match in the finals.
However, the next two seasons showed Jordan winning two championships beating a better Utah Jazz team, playing basically by himself. How about the “Flu Game” in Salt Lake City, when he scored 38 points and the game winning 3 pointer? And obviously the season winning jump shot (which the image is forever etched into Sports history) in 98, making Bryon Russell fall on the floor, again in Salt Lake City?
I remember those two finals vividly and I can safely say, especially about the 98 final: I’ve never seen anything like it. It was the single greatest performance by an individual athlete I ever saw, in any sport. At that moment, Michael became my favorite athlete ever, of those I was old enough to witness playing in their prime.
Add to all that, his humongous charisma and his partnership with Spike Lee that made him a Pop culture icon for more than twenty-five years. Do you have any doubt about that? Well, Nike pays him 100 million dollars a year for the right to use his iconic logo. With one detail: this contract is for life. It will never expire.
Therefore, MJ, come flying into the Hall of Idols.
Be sure to check out my book “Straight And Lethal”.
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