Tuesday, 7 April 2009
Michael Jordan Inducted into Hall of Fame
The Greatest of All Time
Living in Switzerland I grew up on the game of Basketball. I fell in love with it from a young age and for a large part of my youth, basketball was everything. Playing the courts outside my school every day for 3-4 hours. Whole summer weekends were spent outside on the court with my friends from the International School.
These were the 90's and the streetball concept was really taking off. Michael Jordan was at the peak of his career and Magic Johnson was on his way out. The NBA was in the middle of possibly it's most star studded generation with growing interest from around the world. The one and only "Dream Team" of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics was without a doubt the most unique collection of individual talent ever assembled in any sport. But one player transcended that golden period in Basketball history, and that is Michael Jeffrey Jordan. I must have watched his autobiographical documentaries "Come fly with me" and "Michael Jordan's Playground" a hundred times. He epitomised everything that I loved about the game. He was explosive yet immensely graceful at the same time. On the court, he didn't have a weakness.
Since his final retirement there have been a number of young stars that have had the burden of "the next Michael Jordan" bestowed on them knowing full well that no player will ever equal Jordan's exploits. I was privileged enough to play alongside one of those prodigies, Kobe Bryant, back at school in Switzerland. At the age of 14 it was obvious that Kobe was going to be a big deal back in the US but to live up to Jordan's standards was always going to be pushing it. Jordan set the standard so high he made it impossible to draw any sort of comparison. He changed basketball fashion, he made the NBA star a marketable commodity and he, almost singlehandedly, transformed the NBA into an international product.
On the 6th of April Michael Jordan was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. A great honour no doubt but how do you immortalise someone who transcends the sport itself. Comparable to Muhammad Ali. Basketball was to Jordan what boxing was to Ali. During their reign at the top, their sport revolved around them, rather than the other way around. Everybody knew who Muhammad Ali was even if they could not name one other heavyweight champion, just like my mother knows who Michael Jordan is even if she couldn't name one other well known basketball player.
If one of your former teammates (John Paxon) describes you in the following way, you know you've done well...
"Simply the greatest to ever play the game of basketball. He is the one player that each young player in this league should emulate and aspire to become. His work ethic, drive, skill level and competitive spirit were unmatched. Michael was the greatest winner I've ever witnessed in sport and it was an honour to be his team mate and to be able to go along for the wonderful ride."
Sums it up quite nicely I think.