To be recognized as a sports icon, one must endure some adversity on his way to achieving greatness. Michael Jordan epitomizes a sports icon. Jordan, who finished his career against the Philadelphia 76ers on April 16, showed that he can be down at times, but always have enough left in him to rise to the occasion when called upon.
Jordan won six titles while with the Chicago Bulls – to think, the man was cut from his high school basketball team. Jordan won 10 scoring titles – could have been more if he hadn’t retired two times, this being his third. He was considered to be selfish in his first few years with the Bulls. It’s funny how everything is forgotten after winning championship after championship.
The first time he retired was after his father died and to fulfill the dream his father set for him, Jordan retired to play baseball. When that didn’t work, he came back to the game he loved so much to slide on three more championship rings on his oversized fingers. He left the game one more time under his own terms, but the love for the game still burned within him.
The third and final time, Jordan came back to the Washington Wizards to show even without the young legs, at 40 years of age he can still throw out a few lessons on the court to the new generation of players.
During this year, Jordan’s farewell tour, I got the opportunity to watch the greatest player ever to play the game live when his Washington Wizards visited the Golden State Warriors in Oakland on March 23.
To see a sell out crowd at a Warriors game is rare, and that’s exactly what happened when Jordan came to town. The spectators came to see a sports hero and pay their respects to a man they loved to hate, but a man they couldn’t live without.
Even sport celebrities from other sports came to give homage. Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Morgan was in attendance, while San Francisco 49er’s quarterback Jeff Garcia sat two rows from the floor to see Jordan one last time. Along with them, Star Wars creator George Lucas sat courtside to watch.
The game opened with a standing ovation that lasted over a minute when Jordan’s name was announced. Every time Jordan touched the ball, the crowd would anticipate a great play like old times. Jordan did show glimpses of his old self with a one handed dunk to close out the first quarter, and he also had numerous fade-away jumpers that he made so famous. Jordan finished the game with 24 points, five rebounds and five assists and with every touch of the ball, the crowd gave a loud roar to show respect to the greatest. The hatred against Jordan lay in that he constantly won, and winners are usually shunned because the underdog has always been a favorite for someone to root for. Jordan brought competition to the game and when no one could match his greatness, he walked away.
His brief return to the game with the Washington Wizards was to show the world that there would never be another Michael Jordan.
The return also enabled people like me, someone that never got the opportunity to see him play live, to get a glimpse of something special. Jordan’s return gave us one last chance to say goodbye to the greatest to ever play the game. GOODBYE!