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MJ’s Class(less) Act

Michael Jordan is arguably one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Nevertheless, his acceptance speech at last weekend’s Hall of Fame Michael_Jordaninduction was flat-out classless (see especially Pt. 2 and Pt. 3).

ESPN’s Rick Reilly, in his article Be Like Mike? No thanks!, reports:

Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame talk was the Exxon Valdez of speeches. It was, by turns, rude, vindictive and flammable. And that was just when he was trying to be funny. It was tactless, egotistical and unbecoming. When it was done, nobody wanted to be like Mike.

…Here is a man who’s won just about everything there is to win — six NBA titles, five MVPs and two Olympics golds. And yet he sounded like a guy who’s been screwed out of every trophy ever minted. He’s the world’s first sore winner.

The Greatest Athlete of the Century (ESPN’s handle for MJ, not mine) reminded the crowd that, though there’s no “I” in “Team,” ‘There’s an ‘I’ in win,”  (a line which, I suppose, could also be used by John Paxson, Steve Kerr, Scottie Pippin, Luc Longley, and the Worm). Nevertheless, Jordan then went on to elaborate on all his “I’s”… which could explain why he had so few “thank you’s.”

Cue Reilly:

In [Jordan’s] entire 23-minute cringe-athon, there were only six thank yous, seven if you count his sarcastic rip at the very Hall that was inducting him. “Thank you, Hall of Fame, for raising ticket prices, I guess,” he sneered. By comparison, David Robinson’s classy and heartfelt seven-minute speech had 17. Joe Montana’s even shorter speech in Canton had 23. Who wrote your speech Mike? Kanye West?

Perhaps ego is essential to accomplishment, swagger is basic to success. I mean, Jordan isn’t the first athlete to posture himself as almighty. Maybe someone with that much talent is entitled to a certain degree of, um, arrogance.

But we need only listen to David Robinson’s acceptance speech on the same day to disprove that airs are integral to ascendancy.

Sure, MJ’s Hall of Fame air-ball doesn’t diminish his six rings. However, his self-importance disqualifies him as a “class act.” “I wouldn’t want to be you guys if I had to,” said Jordan to the squirming crowd. Ditto, Mike. Ditto.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Nicole September 18, 2009, 2:28 PM


  • RJB September 18, 2009, 4:08 PM

    D Robinson has something MJ doesn't have, and I am not talking about a relationship with God (although it appears he does). What I am talking about is a certain person (or people) everyone needs in their lives, from basketball star to common bum. We all need someone in our lives who will tell us no when we are being an idiot.

    If you look at the other MJ, Michael Jackson, and ever pondered "What in the name of all that is holy happened to him?" Its simple. He was left to his hearts desires with no barriers. We all know what evil, twisted, stupid, crazy, things exist in our hearts. Imagine if we were allowed, and even encouraged to live them out.

    But most of us have someone around us who loves us enough to tell us no.

    For me its my parents, a few close friends and the one who is my constant reality check, my wife. A few months ago she flat out told me no when I suggested I sign up for the church softball team. Not because she is a terrible person who likes to parent her husband, but because she recalls, much more vividly than I, how I tore my ACL two years ago in the church basketball league and how I had to have my shoulder rebuilt after last years church skiing trip.

    She lovingly told me it was time to hang up my Chuck Taylors and start living vicariously through my children like the other dads.

    Point is, Robinson has people in his life who tell him when he is going off the beaten path. I am not saying Jordan is anything close to Michael Jackson right now, but he is certainly headed down that path. He needs to find someone quick who loves him enough to stand up to him.

    There may be an "I" in Michael Jordan, but there are two "I's" in David Robinson. I think thats made the difference.

  • Rebecca Luella September 18, 2009, 7:38 PM

    I wish it weren't so, but I'm not surprised.

    Any athlete who refers to his teammates as his "supporting cast" is mixed up. Apparently Michael doesn't think he needs anyone to set a pick for him or pass him the ball.

    Funny thing, though. He sure complained after he'd been in the league a few years because he was expected to carry the team by himself. He was scoring 60 points and all but not winning, so he put pressure on management to bring in some other guys to help. Seems he forgot those days.

    Very sad.

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