|"I love it when a turtle neck and cigar combo come together."|
Around my early-teens he asked me what I was planning to do with my life, aside from being unimaginably gangly, repellent to girls and a crippling disappointment. Not wanting to sell out on my reputation, I suggested:
1) Reviewing video games (If you were there, you could actually hear the 'death rattle' from inside him, 60 years early).
2) Playing professional basketball.
The second option, as unreasltic as it was (you were more likely to see Michael Vick on Pets Win Prizes) basically came from one man: Michael Jordan.
My first NBA video, The Dream Team, had a short section on him that highlighted dunks and plays that literally had me believing that the guy had some kind of supernatural ability.
From there, I believed all the hype, all the hearsay. I believed it when it was reported NASA were investigating him for his "flying ability" and uncanny knack of hanging in the air longer than most (to give you context, my best friend at age 9 was a stick). He was delivering incredible passes, dunks and circus shots that suggested something was severely different about this particular player. Couple that with an aggressive marketing campaign by (among several others) Nike, Gatorade and the NBA itself that reinforced the notion that Michael was a perfect human being both on and off the court. A family man with three kids, married to beautiful (if not model beautiful) woman and kept a fairly low profile in terms of extra-curricular activities.
That's why, in 1992, when The Jordan Rules came out it made so much of an impact. Here was a book that had Michael gambling, throwing tantrums, bitch slapping team-mates and generally showing him to be every bit of the prick it takes in order to be called the greatest player of all-time. That, along with a reported gambling problem caused the agents and PR monkeys to go in to damage limitation overdrive and a subsequent period of quiet between 1993 and 1999. There was a time that i'd rather see Stephen Hawking waterboarded on PPV than listen to anyone bad-mouth Jordan. But people kept talking...
But what since then? As far as I can tell he has decided to fire all public relations advisors and simply enjoy his life. As much of a fuss as any negative story caused during his playing days, the media has let post-NBA Jordan away with everything. As a result (?) he is commonly percieved as an arrogant, difficult and egotistical person who has been summed up by many as simply "an asshole".
Even before the sweat had dried on his last professional game, the Wizards organisation unceremoniously fired him from the post of basketball operations manager and cut all ties. The greatest player to ever play the game. A guy who had played for the team for two seasons and could have been used to lift the team to new heights on just a promotional level if nothing else, was papped out the door. Even if he was terrible at his post (He notoriously brought Kwame Brown to the team via a number one draft pick), his value extends far beyond playing or managing.
Here's five examples of Jordan's post-retirement difficulties and that ego let loose:
His infamous Hall of Fame speech in 2008 was as awkward as Josef Fritzl at a PTA meeting. He slated everyone that ever wronged him while aggressively reminding the world that he was the greatest player ever. We know, buddy:
Like most of us, Michael spends his down time golfing, gambling and abusing medicore rappers. As unimportant a witness as Chamillionaire is, it still gives an rare insight into Jordan's temperment and the moment a fan came to the realisation this wasn't the guy he had idolised. Its also important to note that this guy looks like 50 Cent with Down Syndrome:
Fashion is a fickle bitch. Kids see Michael dunk with his tongue out and copy him when they play.
Michael sees Hitler murder 17 million people with a cute mustache and next thing you know everyone wants one.
As an example of the media turning on a sports star, there's no better than the Tiger Woods debacle. I've no doubt that he's a grown man who makes his own bad decisions, but this didn't stop reports that MJ had led Woods astray.
"I told him, 'Stay away from that son of a bitch [Jordan], because he doesn't have anything to offer to the f- - -ing world in which he lives except playing basketball, which he did yesterday,' " lawyer John Merchant told Vanity Fair magazine.
More bad news as his alleged affairs led to the eventual break down in his marriage of 17 years. Juanita didn't so much take him to the cleaners as lead him down an alleyway behind the cleaners, where he was stripped, molested and mugged. £150 million later and she had completed what is the most expensive divorce in history.
Finally, Michael managed to make your forget about every accomplishment he's had on the basketball court with 30 of the most obnoxious seconds you will ever want to unsee. Running with the tagline "Look who we've got our Hanes on now", that gives the whole advert a distinct rapey tone, MJ goes about bullying the shit out of Kevin Bacon, who was my other idol growing up and the reason I got into overly campy, freestyle dance.