Along with the television coverage of ESPN for Michael Jordan’s 50th birthday, there will be an in depth interview with Jordan by Wright Thompson in the upcoming ESPN the Magazine. This was a very insightful piece in which Michael Jordan gave unprecedented access to what his mind state is and was as a player. Jordan was the ultimate competitor on the court and off the court, he wanted to win everything at all costs. His confidence in himself is legendary. But the same thing that helped him excel on the court is the same thing that is a burden in a normal life.
In the article Jordan talks about how he can’t replace the game of basketball with anything in regular life. Basketball propelled him to new heights, which most men will never achieve, so it’s not surprising that he finds it difficult to move on. He speaks of returning to the NBA and seems bitter over the new generation of player. He even went as far as to speak of returning to the NBA at 50, and how he discovered a flaw in Lebron James game. The article dismissed the possibility of him returning, but of course the media ran with the story and dreamed of how Jordan would match up with Lebron. It’s good to dream, but at some point you have to come back to reality. This story shows what all great athletes go through trying assimilate into society when their career is over. Many of them are unsuccessful, and according to the article Jordan is fighting his own battle on this issue. It seems the formula to be great at something is to obsess about it, but is it worth it in the long run?
Michael Jordan has accomplished so much in his career, but it still isn’t enough to him. We see the glitz and the glamour of his life, but we don’t realize that he has paid a price for his fame and fortune. Jordan was once the center of the universe, so he will probably never be content in being just a cog. When you were the best in the world at something, being good just doesn’t cut it. But to me that explains his problem with Lebron James.
By all accounts Lebron James doesn’t have the mental make up of Jordan because he didn’t have failures growing up to make him work harder. As a sophomore in high school Slam Magazine called Lebron one of the top 5 players in the world. His first failure was his first NBA Finals with the Heat, and he eventually bounced back nicely from that and is currently destroying the league.
But from Jordan’s perspective Lebron didn’t pay dues because he was given the world without proving anything, while Jordan had to wait out Bird and Magic. Plus there may be some jealousy because even though Lebron may never be the equivalent of Jordan on the court, Lebron is better than Jordan off the court. Jordan is still an icon and Jordans are still a hot item, but Lebron sales shoes, he is part owner in Beats By Dre, and he has ownership in his own agent’s company. Lebron is already set up for a life outside of basketball, and he planted those seeds from day 1.
Lebron shared his good fortune with his high school friends, but Jordan takes pride in holding his friends back from winning NBA titles. It’s just a different time. Times change and people need to change with them. But Jordan needs to let it go because this generation isn’t the same. Even if he was playing now, I am not sure it would be the same because with social media you have to be careful every second of the day because everyone is a reporter. I wonder how his gambling escapades would be taken if they happened today? This is nothing new because the older generation will always have some animosity for the new generation. But the older generation has to adapt to fit in to the new society and Jordan has to do the same. He is the greatest player to play the game, but his time is done, and the sooner he and the media realizes it, the sooner he can try to move to the next stage of his life.