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No longer desiring to “be like Mike”

September 17, 2009

For anyone who grew up in the 90’s, Michael Jordan was the man. I had Air Jordan’s, watched his defining moments in NBA finals series religiously, and yes, even saw Space Jam. I loved his Gatorade and McDonald’s commercials and tried to stick out my tongue he did as I played basketball.

Last weekend he was inducted into the NBA hall of fame as probably the most talented and successful player to ever play American sports. Apparently his induction speech was a fairly large disaster, though. His 23-minute speech consisted more of self-praise and backhanded comments than anything else.

Contrast this with David Robinson’s 7 minute speech that exalted everyone but himself.

Interestingly enough, Robinson was often put down for being “too nice” on the court. Jordan had a killer instinct, and could carry his team to victory on any night. In the end though, with his playing days now behind him and little cultural influence remaining, Jordan’s final image under society’s spotlight will be remembered as a sad moment of self-justification and “settling scores.” While he was no doubt the superior player to Robinson, he demonstrated that he was not the superior man. And while a decade ago Jordan had everything a man could want, I recognize now that all the commercial deals in the world don’t compensate for a lack of character. In the end, despite him being the greatest basketball player of all time, I have little desire that my future sons “be like Mike.”

Voddie Baucham writes an article contrasting the two speeches here. Below is an excerpt:

Jordan is defined by what he did on the court.  He needed this moment to snatch his throne back from the likes of Kobe Bryant if only for one night.  He needed the bright lights, and the attention again if only for twenty-three minutes.  And in the end, it was quite sad.  A man who has “everything”; the most recognizable figure on the planet at one time, looked as empty as the United Center (where the Bulls play) two hours after a disappointing loss.

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