I was but a young pup when Jordan won his six championships with the Bulls, but I have distinct memories of all but the series with the Los Angeles Lakers. For me, just like millions of other people, Michael Jordan was the Alpha and the Omega. He was bigger than the Bulls, bigger than the NBA, bigger than basketball.
Today he was inducted into the Hall of Fame, and the media has been all over Jordan, reminiscing about his greatness and what he means to not only basketball, but the entire world.
I’m going to let you think of your own Jordan memories, if you have any, and spare you of my own. But there is one thing that I wanted to address. Since his retirement, MJ’s been painted in a different light than when he was playing. I’m not going to comment on it. I think we all understand that at the end of the day, even the most famous man in the entire world is a fallible human being.
What I realized through this whole process is this: When it comes to the icons that you love — whether they are musicians, athletes, actors, authors, whatever — it’s important to separate who they are and what they did. I know that it seems counter to what we are taught, that character is the most important thing regardless of talent. But we often forget that we don’t really know these people, good or bad. Instead, we should just value what we do know. That we loved how Jordan played basketball, or that Tom Cruise is a talented actor, or Amy Winehouse made a great song — that’s what matters.
In this day and age, with the internet allowing everybody to be in everybody’s business, let’s try and make an effort not to get sucked in. I know it seems ill-timed to say all of this on a day when pretty much everyone is only saying great things about the G.O.A.T., but it’s an important lesson for all of us to remember.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist. There is one story I heard about Jordan that I am going to share. One night, after Jordan had scored about 20 in a row to win the game single-handedly, longtime assistant coach Tex Winter said to him, “There’s no ‘I’ in team.” Jordan’s response? “There’s an ‘I’ in win. Which way do you want it?” Classic.
Raise one up to Michael this weekend and enjoy the start of the NFL.