Archive for the ‘Michael Jordan’ Category

Michael Jordan: The Best Ever Review

September 6, 2009

The World Wide Leader recently sent me a copy of their new “bookazine” Michael Jordan: The Best Ever. I didn’t know what to expect, since there was no such thing as a “bookazine” when I was growing up. Turns out it is a high quality, almost 100-page tribute to Jordan’s career on the eve of his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame. Considering it will only set you back $8.99, it is a must-have keepsake for all hoopheads out there. The best part about the publication, especially if you are illiterate, is all of the great photography that is housed within its covers. High school MJ, college MJ (wearing Converse on his feet), pro MJ, baseball MJ and executive MJ are all covered, with plenty of appearances of the worst mustache in sports history. There’s even a Gatorade sponsored poster that you can put up in your locker. Its not all photos though, as there are plenty of articles – both old and new – chronicling famous Jordan feats, like his “sick game” versus Utah in the playoffs – as well as rare stories, such as the time a martial artists cut his stomach with a sword. And for shoe addicts, every Jordan issued kick is written about and displayed.

Go and grab this “bookazine” and proudly display it on your coffee table (and if you don’t have a coffee table, pick one up while you are buying the “bookazine”).


The Gambler Takes It To The Air

August 30, 2009

The answer to an age-old question has finally been revealed with the help of Ball Don’t Lie – What would happen if singer Kenny Rogers went up against an in-his-prime Michael Jordan on the basketball court.

The King of Pop and the King of Hop

July 1, 2009

As you most definitely know by now, the world lost one of its greatest entertainers this past week in Michael Jackson. Now, I know you are wondering why I’m writing about Michael Jackson on a basketball website, and to that I have answers. Let us not forget that he helped save basketball, or the cameo made by Michael Jordan in his Jam music video. As a child Marvin Gaye used to come over to the Jackson household to play hoops with the boys (video please) and there is a rumored hoops game at Paisley Park between MJ and Prince (VIDEO PLEASE!!). And the King of Pop was even supposed to release a song with Ice Cube called We Be Ballin’ that was going to become the theme song for the NBA but never saw the light of day (probably a good thing).

But the main reason I feel MJ’s passing is related to basketball is because of how he reminds me of the other MJ, Michael Jordan. And it goes deeper than the mentioned Jam video and the fact that when I interviewed Jordan’s son, Jeff, a few years ago he reminisced about a childhood meeting with Jackson. For people growing up in the 1980s (the decade I did most of my growing up in), the MJs were a large part of our childhood. If you came up during this decade, there’s a good chance you have the Thriller album and at one point owned a pair of Air Jordans. Both performers truly transcended their genres and were worldwide phenomenons. Being a fan – or at least respecting their talents – was a bonding thread amongst us.

Both men did more than just entertain us – they inspired us. They showed us things we had never seen before (the moonwalk; the above the rim game taken to a new level). They allowed us to dream. But as much as they inspired, they also brought out the worst in their fellow man, especially in Jackson’s case. The adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” was never ignored more than in the King of Pop’s case. He was roundly viewed as a freak because of the plastic surgery he chose to have done. When a skin condition contributed to the lightening of his complexion the “black or white” jokes rained down. Why is how a person chooses to look so threatening to a society? And – newsflash – artists are SUPPOSED to be eccentric. Eccentricity and flair are necessities for someone to excel in the arts, just like Michael Jordan’s ego and competitive drive were essential for him to dominate on the court. And Jordan was also judged based on appearance – at least in the early years. He was viewed as just a flashy player due to his dunks, the long shorts and his fancy shoes when in reality he was as fundamentally sound as they come and a menace on the defensive end of the court.

We also convicted and sentenced both men without a fair trial. Of course Jackson molested kids – he was a weirdo and have you seen what he’s done to his nose? Of course Jordan’s father was murdered because of his son’s gambling problem and of course Jordan didn’t really retire from basketball the first time – David Stern suspended him for gambling on the game. I guess that is the tabloid world we live in, but you can’t help but wonder if this type of pressure the world put upon Jackson contributed to his untimely demise.

But it is not all sad news. This is a time for us all to reflect and be thankful to be alive during the time that these men plied their crafts. And be thankful that there were serious enough challengers to these men’s thrones (Prince, Madonna, Lionel Ritchie; Barkley, Malone, Magic) to push them to new heights. Be thankful that you were witnesses to works of geniuses.

With that being said, mostly Jackson’s passing is a very sad time. Sad because we lost a great entertainer. Sad because the way we treat celebrities may have helped lead to his death. But mostly sad because with Jackson’s passing we are reminded that we’re not kids anymore.

And, in a related note, this man is still alive:

Game Recognize Game

May 12, 2009

I’ve been accused of being sacrilegious for stating this, and I admit that it is premature, but here it goes anyway: “LeBron James has a good chance at ending up better than Michael Jordan”.

A ridiculous statement, right? Typical sportswriter hyperbole, just trying to shock people and get attention. I would have thought the same thing not so long ago until I put more thought into it. Now I truly believe the above statement.
Now, before you call me the devil incarnate, a few important caveats. Notice I said LeBron has a “good chance” at being better than Jordan. In no way has the King accomplished enough to be considered Jordan’s superior, or even equal. And, like most other thirtysomething hoops junkies, I grew up a MJ fan, so there is no LeBron based bias here. (Plus this story of mine should have cleared that up anyway). And, no, I’m not comparing the two on an aesthetic basis. Both guys are different types of players. What I’m attempting to prove is that while most consider Jordan the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All-Time for those of you not hip), at this point in his career young LeBron isn’t too far behind Air.

Like all good manifestos, I have facts and data to back up my bold proclamation. Since I can’t predict the future (at least 100% accurately), I compared both superstars throughout their first six seasons in the League (MJ from 1985-1990, LeBron from 2004-2009). And when you look at all the data, LeBron holds his own, and arguably even is ahead of Jordan at this point.

First, with the math:

Player’s averages over first six seasons in the NBA:

Michael Jordan
32.8ppg, 6.3rpg, 6.0apg, 2.8spg, 1.1bpg, 3.3tov

27.5ppg, 7.0rpg, 6.7apg, 1.8spg, 0.9bpg, 3.3tov
LeBron James

Bet those numbers are a lot closer than you’d have expected. And this isn’t just a small sample of data – both guys had played over 400 regular season games in their careers up to this point.

While numbers are helpful, they don’t tell the whole story. How about comparing how they did in the hardware department.

All-Star selections – Jordan 6, LeBron 5
All-NBA selections – Jordan 5 (4 first teams), LeBron 4 (2 first teams)
Rookie of the Year and MVP – Both won each once
All-Defensive selections – Jordan 3 (including Defensive Player of the Year award), LeBron 1

Jordan has him beat, but it is real close.

Since it is a team game, and the purpose of playing is to win championships, and true superstars step it up in the playoffs, lets compare their playoff careers.

Jordan – 24 playoff victories, 5 series won, 0 appearances in the NBA Finals
LeBron – 34 playoff victories, 7 series, 1 appearance in the NBA Finals

To the surprise of many, LeBron has him beat in this category, plus he’ll be adding to his totals once the next round of this year’s playoffs begin. And before you argue that the Eastern Conference was stronger in Jordan’s day, an Eastern Conference team has won the NBA title three out of the past five years, and an Eastern team won the title three out of Jordan’s first six seasons.
So it is not so ridiculous stating that LeBron could be better than Jordan in the end. The man has kept up to the original 23 in most categories and has enjoyed more success than Jordan in the playoffs so far. And if he can win a title this year he will be one year ahead of Jordan, who didn’t win a title until his seventh season in the L (and had one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players of all-time riding shotgun with him – LeBron has Mo Williams).

Now comes the hard part for LeBron – trying to keep up with Jordan throughout the rest of his career. That would involve winning six championships, six Finals MVPs and four regular season MVPs. Heady stuff indeed. But if anyone can do it, it would be the 24-year-old James. Ever since Michael hung up his Air Jordans, people have been looking for Air’s heir. The search could be over.

Deja Vu All Over Again

May 4, 2009

So LeBron James was named the 2009 NBA MVP today. Be still my beating heart. My apologies for going against the grain here, but there is nothing about LeBron James that interests me. That’s right – I find LeBron boring.

Now, before you all go and get your knickerbockers in a knot let me clarify myself here. I firmly believe that James is the best player on the planet and was pretty much a no-brain selection as the MVP this year. He no doubt will go down in history as one of the best to play Dr. Naismith’s creation. His combination of size, athleticism and skill are dreamlike. Its almost as if a mad scientist with a serious case of the basketball jones concocted him one dark and stormy night in his lab.

With all that said, I still find him boring. I’ve been spending time soul searching as to why this is the case. It could be that the man is as plain as vanilla ice cream off the court. No controversy. No interesting quotes. No serious trash talking. To think, the biggest scandal he’s been involved in is the choice of baseball hat that he wears.

Not that I really want the man to be out there raping and pillaging and acting like a NFL player. Just anything more interesting that the standard “Republicans buy sneakers too” shtick that Jordan made popular decades ago. Jordan is one of the main problems here. With all players after him following his script – on and off the court – there is not much room for originality. So whenever a player like Lebron or Kobe does something – once again, on or off the court – its a case of “been there, done that” for basketball fans. So while Jordan was brilliant and helped make the NBA the global brand that it is, he also helped ruin the game.

But I believe the main reason that LeBron doesn’t intrigue me is that everything he does seems to be pre-ordained (now I can’t remember if I can up with this theory myself or if it is something that I read on FreeDarko, so unless I get a strongly worded e-mail from their lawyer I’ll claim it as my own). Of course LeBron won the MVP award. Of course he is going to win a championship, if not this year then in the near future. Of course he is going to be one of the greatest of all-time. There was and is no struggle or mystery involved. With LeBron it was never a case of “if” but “when”.

Ever since he appeared materialized on the basketball scene as a youngster, this was all expected of him. He was a fully formed player practically out of the womb, with the game, muscles and tattoos all in place already. Where is the intrigue there, when all that was predicted about him years ago now is coming to pass? He had 25 points, 9 assists, 6 boards and 4 steals in his first NBA game. He averaged 21/6/6 his rookie year. No struggle – just consistent brilliancy. Even Jordan was a bit of a surprise when he hit the scene – hell, he wasn’t even the first or second pick in the draft. With LeBron, it is like reading a book that you already know the ending to. There is no ad libbing from the script.

While consistent brilliance is brilliant, it can also be boring.