Airness," Michael "Magic" Jordan, or just MJ,
the King Arthur of Basketball, made his final bow from the
game, his legion of fans were quite happy, elated, and, maybe,
sad. Happy, because Jordan had given them a million moments
to showcase memories of his true greatness; elated, because
they'd now cherish those recollections of his mystical skills
on court -- as if whatever he had realised by way of his wondrous
deftness wasn't just enough. And, sad because he won't play
the game, again.
are obvious: Michael Jordan had to face the inevitable, as
in any other profession. Retirement blues -- a definitive outcome,
which is so easy to talk about, not accept
Only a few
acquiesce to the demands of the unavoidable "rote"
-- sans a "gritty" grunt
Needless to say, Jordan
often said no; and, then said, yes. He had to -- to keep his
own sense of Platonian axiom, or divine frenzy, going.
Now, to the essence of this piece, a tribute
to the greatest of them all -- the very magic that made Jordan,
Born in Brooklyn, New York, on February
17, 1963, MJ got hooked to the game at age 12. He played basketball
throughout his high school days with a rare kind of penchant
and proficiency. He was, within no time, thought to be someone
quite special. All thanks to his supreme confidence, not over-confidence,
and discernible basketball skills, aside from his very original,
infinite component -- stupendous ball sense.
For over thirteen seasons, Jordan, Chicago
Bulls' star, was the monarch of what he surveyed. His was
a saga like no other
If there never were a Jordan, the
movies would surely have conjured him up. For no small reason.
Because, Jordan's life was full of drama, made-for-media-moments,
juxtaposed by an incredible basketball talent and plethora
of achievements, which were no less unique
unmistakably awesome, and dazzlingly great -- so much so, one
would always stop and wonder, Is Jordan Real?
MJ won more than a handful of NBA championships,
and every individual award you'd, possibly, think of. He broke
most scoring records, appeared on TV shows, promoted basketball
shoes, and just about every commodity: from soft-drinks, fast-food
to batteries, and so on. Not only that. He acted next to cartoon
characters, took part in charity and/or good causes, retired,
came back, and retired, and has always been a fine family
man. With him in full flow, it's quite easy to think in terms
of a perfect basketball season -- of an equation that's akin
to staging Hamlet with the Prince of Denmark
-- at the theatre!
MJ is, doubtless, the most recognisable
man on planet Earth -- even to those who may never have seen
him in a NBA game on TV
Larry Bird, for one, called
him "God, disguised as Michael Jordan," when "Magic" MJ scored 63 points against the Celtics in the 1986 play-off.
As a matter of fact, to every basketball fan, MJ is an icon,
"The Shot," or the buzzer-beating falling down game-winner,
with more than an element of self-regulated consistency. For
kids, MJ's one of their childhood friends -- always the Mr
Dependable in their fanciful dreams. Most important: what's
made Jordan so much loved and powerful is the general realisation
that he's not like other celebrities. The essence of his enormous
appeal is clean and direct, in conjunction with his immense
love for the game... Also, include his matchless accomplishments
-- and, you've Jordan in a league of his own.
That MJ credits his parents for most of
his successes is apparent. His parents grew up in the South
-- in the midst of troubled racial conflicts and civil rights
movement. It was they that instilled work ethics in him --
"Judge yourself by what you are, not by the colour of
your skin." In so doing, they actualised a kind of environment
for their children. Much of what Jordan has achieved, or will
continue to achieve, owes its origins to such an upbringing.
MJ lives basketball. His father, a basketball
buff, had a small court built in the backyard for his kids
-- just the perfect thing to do for one to get into the groove,
or the enchanting ambience of the game. Naturally, MJ had
to play. And, play he did with a great degree of excitement,
Also, being the fourth of five kids, he was
always thrown in to face challenges, as it were. Which explains
for his classy motif: "Challenge is what makes you better."
For MJ, the basketball court had always
been the heart of the universe: a spectrum of consciousness,
the eye of the spirit, and of life itself. In the seminary,
Jordan averaged 17.7 points. He just did it. How? In his own
words: "Strictly from desire and ability. I learned on
my own by watching. I wasn't taught fundamentals until college."
Quite truly, college-basketball, to MJ, was what the falling
apple was to Newton. It was a regimented atmosphere, all right.
But, it rubbed on him. As MJ recalls: "[It] taught me
how to be a team player; how to lay it out on the line for
the team. The education of skills was, by far, the best."
What's MJ's most treasured philosophy
-- the mark of his magnetism? "Basketball's just a game,
a game that I want to win. If I'm playing you in golf, for
example, I don't have to play for anything. We can play for
pride. That's enough. But, I am going to try to beat you."
Not that MJ isn't a gambler. He certainly
is. In so doing, he'd always sought out new ways to challenge
himself -- to become better and better, and better than the
best. Himself. In fellow-player Karl Malone's words: "He's
the players' player. He's the man you watch when you're not
playing. Sometimes you watch him do a move and you think:
I wish he could do that again. He's unbelievable. He's the
greatest." Facts, yes. Not superlatives -- a realistic
analysis of a man who scored over 30,000 career points
in a fantastic hunt for control of the ball on court.
MJ, who's also a golf enthusiast, is the
finest player ever to play basketball. He's also a living
manifestation, a man whose motivation and drive are truly
unique -- like his God-given skills. What's most extraordinary
about him was his eagerness to open himself up, and say, "Hey,
I'm human too." That's also his greatness -- a legend,
who respects basketball much more than anything else.
There won't be another like him -- again.