Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Greatest (Blunder?) Ever

This weekend couldn't have gotten any more entertaining.
I happened to tune into the Hall of Fame speeches of Jazz legends, John Stockton and Jerry Sloan and breathed in the enormity of their great accomplishments. The Hall of Fame presented Stockton, Sloan and the greatest ever, Michael Jordan as new enshrinees, and gave them the opportunity to address the crowds and viewers watching and awaiting their final words.
Stock and Sloan, (I must mention) were fabulous. Their speeches inspired, moving and marvelous. As one person said it... "From the speeches of David Robinson to John Stockton, Jerry Sloan to Vivian Stringer, there was an unmistakable thread of peace of mind and purpose. At times, they were self-deprecating and deflective of praise." In my mind, you couldn't help but witness the gratitude, humility and appreciation to the game of basketball that each enshrinee felt. It was great stuff to witness!
And then there was Jordan... and his speech.
Wow. What was that all about? Jordan mentioned how so many people had "stoked the fire" and "added wood to the flame" of his success, and which had ultimately made him who he became... the best ever. He poked fun of everyone. He brought up the dude who beat him out of his high school basketball team (even inviting him to the ceremony!), took apart Buzz Peterson, his ex-Carolina teammate, ripped on Jerry Krause, Jeff Van Gundy, and Bryan Russell of all people. And plain and simply sounded off on how everyone doubted him. His speech was arrogant, ego-driven, selfish, and most certainly bizarre. I then remembered a piece of ancient '90's history, and thought to myself... "Oh yeah, that's just Jordan. That's what he was like." It's no wonder that I dispised the guy.
Many writers developed similar sentiments about Jordan's speech. And I wanted to just share a few of them...
From "This wasn’t a Hall of Fame induction speech, but a bully tripping nerds with lunch trays in the school cafeteria. 'M.J. was introduced as the greatest player ever and he’s still standing there trying to settle scores,' one Hall of Famer said privately later.
When basketball wanted to celebrate Jordan as the greatest player ever, wanted to honor him for changing basketball everywhere, he was petty and punitive."
From "If you listened to Robinson's and Stockton's speeches, you could see the difference between the two and Jordan. Stockton and Robinson have made comfortable transitions into adulthood through retirement, and both gave wonderful, emotional, heartfelt speeches... Michael Jordan the Chicago Bulls guard was invincible. Michael Jordan the Man is vulnerable, complicated and ultimately human. I miss Jordan the Hero. I don't really want to know Jordan the Man."
What gets even better is how Jordan called out BRuss, the former Jazzman, as pressuring him to come back to play in the NBA so Russell could guard him. Jordan shoved his speech right in BRuss' face, essentially calling him a fool. Take that Bryan Russell! You... you nobody!
Afterward, BRuss responded... and now wants to take Jordan up on his offer. “I’ll play his a$$ right now. This is a call-out for him to come play me. He can come out here in his private jet and come play. He’s got millions of dollars. He can pay for the jet. He can meet me at the Recreation Center in Calabasas. We can have Mark Jackson do the commentating. We can have Mitch Richmond do the officiating. We can put it on TV and see if Michael’s still got it.”
I would love to see this! How can we get this on pay-per-view? Talk about your... "Prime-time, over-the-hill, washed-up, entertainment-tonight, made-for-TV, reality show"? Jordan vs. BRuss II... '98 Finals Rewind. Are you kidding me?
Beyond all the non-sense that Jordan was spewing on stage, we can't forget the legendary status and career of our very own John Stockton. He was an ordinary man doing extraordinary things on the basketball court... (6-foot nothing and repeatedly beat the stuffing out of players bigger, stronger, and often times faster than he was). He always came and did his job. "He worked harder than you. That was his secret" Sloan said. He never wanted the limelight. Gave credit where credit was due. And ultimately succeeded tremendously, making our fans, city and state proud of his every accomplishment. He was a superstar, and will always be one of us.


Tucker McCann said...

i have to agree that MJ's mention of B Russ in his Hall of Fame Induction speech is bizarre. It is like Golden Griff making us watch his 1997 Football Highlight video everytime we see him.

Move on MJ. Move on Golden Griff.

Orlando said...

Stockton's face when Jordan mentioned BRuss was incredible. Complete disbelief.

Loved the tux, Stock.

Tucker McCann said...

From Adande on

"[MJ] went on an extended riff on Bryon Russell, the man forever frozen in the highlight of Jordan's final shot in a Bulls uniform.

Jordan said that it came from Russell's expressing a desire for Jordan to come back from his first retirement so he could guard him. He asked Stockton if he remembered that conversation, prompting the second-greatest reaction shot of the weekend. (The first was Beyonce's how-did-I-get-dragged-into-this? expression following Kanye's mike-grab from Taylor Swift.) Stockton looked as if he had no recollection of that discussion at all, and I wouldn't be surprised if it never actually happened.

Jordan has made stuff up before, most notably when he claimed Bullets rookie LaBradford Smith said, "Nice game, Mike," after lighting up His Airness for 37 points. Jordan returned fire with 36 points in the first half against Smith the next time they played. Years later, he confessed Smith never said anything to him."


Tucker McCann said...

Also from Adande . . .

"He cried at the outset of his speech [but] he had people cringing by the end."

Orlando said...

When I heard the anecdote, I thought "B.S." Then he said, "You remember that, Stock?" And Stockton sat there with a look of disbelief. Bryon Russell may have been cocky, but I doubt he goaded Jordan back from the minor leagues.

dzupiris said...

Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame speech unsportsmanlike?
The Legacy of Michael Jordan