The Michael Jordan 50th birthday coverage has been nothing short of embarrassing this week. Sports media done lost their minds in what has to be considered the lowest point in journalism since Mitch Albom last made up a story about five people he met in heaven.
Here are just some brief excerpts from the nation’s most respected news outlets.
USA Today Sports
What do you get the greatest ever?
Michael Jordan turns 50 on Sunday, so friends, relatives and obsessive fans are stuck asking themselves that question. Jordan seemingly has it all: money, fame, a dream job as NBA team owner and the respect of everyone in his world.
1. What was Jordan’s childhood nickname?
Growing up, Jordan was called “black cat” by other kids; it was a name that hurt him deeply. The Air Jordan III was patterned after a black panther’s paw, and like so much else in his life, Jordan used the pain as motivation. The third generation of Air Jordans kicked the brand into a higher gear, paving the way for the brand’s continued iconic status.
9. What was Jordan’s pregame meal of choice?
It would horrify 21st-century nutritionists, but Jordan’s pregame meal was a steak cooked medium, a baked potato, a green salad and water or ginger ale. Seemed to work well enough.
Here’s a sampling of Jordan’s best quips (the first two from Sam Smith’s The Jordan Rules and the third from a “Player X” column in ESPN The Magazine):
• “I hate being out there with those garbagemen,” Jordan said of Bulls teammates Dennis Hopson, Stacey King and B.J. Armstrong.
• “I hope there’s a jump shot in there,” Jordan told struggling rookie King as he walked into the locker room with a box.
• “The cars I got are just like yours. Except mine were free,” Jordan replied when Gary Payton said he drove a nicer car than Jordan.
NBC Sports-Pro Basketball Talk
How Michael Jordan altered what we expect from every athlete who followed him
Jordan’s legacy of fierceness becomes enshrined in games like “the flu game” where nothing could stop him from performing. We as fans often seem to care more about the team and a game’s outcome than the players — we want the guys who care like we do and will show that on the court. Jordan did.
The G.O.A.T, a moniker of reverence short for ‘Greatest of All Time,’ is how Michael Jordan’s known by ardent hoops junkies.
Jamison cited stories about Jordan’s one-on-one with current Charlotte Bobcats players. The majority owner of the team, Jordan goes to the practice facility from time to time to offer tips and show he can still dunk.
More than anything, Jamison is aware few have discounted Jordan and come out on the positive side. If Jordan believes, Jamison believes. Jordan’s effect on Jamison won’t allow him to doubt.
Not surprisingly, the most ridiculous coverage of Jordan’s 50th birthday came from the Worldwide Leader. Countless hours were spent on SportsCenter this week discussing everything from Jordan’s stylish shoes to his gorgeous bald head to his graceful dunking. At times it bordered on softcore porn (like this). I imagine, deep in the heart of ESPN HQ, an exec’s staring at a Space Jam poster masturbating into a tube sock.
But that’s not even the half of it. Wright Thompson (who’s a masterful writer) dropped an 8,000 word Jordan tell-all full of nuggets like this:
Back when they used to shoot a lot of commercials, Jordan’s security team would wait for him in his trailer while he was on set. A woman named Linda cooked Michael’s meals, and he loved cinnamon rolls. She’d bake a tray and bring it to him. When it came time to film, he’d see the guards eyeing the cinnamon rolls and he’d walk over and spit on each one, to make sure nobody took his food.
That last part’s particularly noteworthy because it tells the real story of Michael Jordan—great basketball player, gigantic asshole. For a moment, disregard all those stories about Jordan’s playing days. Disregard that he openly admits keeping a man from winning a gold medal because he didn’t “like him” and instead focus on these two things.
1 He used his Hall of Fame speech to embarrass people
Everybody from George Gervin to Magic Johnson to Leroy Smith, the person picked ahead of him on his high school team. As Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowksi so eloquently stated: “This wasn’t a Hall of Fame induction speech, but a bully tripping nerds with lunch trays in the school cafeteria. Somehow, he thinks this is a cleansing exercise. When basketball wanted to celebrate Jordan as the greatest player ever, wanted to honor him for changing basketball everywhere, he was punitive and petty.”
2 He has been the black Matt Millen
The man’s an unmitigated disaster as an executive. He is to the Bobcats/Wizards what Matt Millen was to the Lions. A bumbling idiot with no clue how to manage a professional team. Last year, the Bobcats posted the worst winning percentage in NBA history (.106), going 7-59. This year at the All-Star break they’re 12-40, dead last in the league by a full three games. He chose Kwame Brown and he chose Adam Morrison. His draft picks more or less resemble a collage of explosive diarrhea, a virtual who’s who of NBA bottom feeders. And yet for the most part, it’s widely ignored. It’s a footnote at the end of a long, glowing piece about his achievements.
The coverage of Jordan’s birthday mercifully comes to an end Sunday. I presume we’ll meet here again in fifteen years as Jordan turns into the greatest senior citizen sports writers have ever seen.