The Bobcat in Winter
February 18, 2013 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Michael Jordan Has Not Left The Building. Wright Thompson of ESPN: The Magazine profiles Michael Jordan as he turns 50 and finds himself in a world where his body may age, but his obsessive drive to compete never goes away.
posted by workingdankoch (38 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is seriously one of the best journalistic pieces I've seen come out of ESPN.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 4:44 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


And I say to you: MJ is 50? God damn. I hold him in regard as a historical figure, not as a man in the prime of his (more broadly speaking) life.
posted by flippant at 4:49 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Given that the piece tries to put a different spin on the infamous Hall of Fame speech, maybe the writer shouldn't have preceded it with this:
He does what he wants, when he wants. On a long trip to China in the Nike plane, he woke up just as everyone else was taking an Ambien and settling in to sleep. Didn't matter. He turned on the lights and jammed the plane's stereo. If Michael is up, the unwritten rule goes, everybody is up.
Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:58 PM on February 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Bill Simmons missed a get, this one screams Grantland.
posted by C.A.S. at 4:59 PM on February 18, 2013


This is seriously one of the best journalistic pieces I've seen come out of ESPN.

(That's what I came to say)
posted by nickrussell at 5:03 PM on February 18, 2013


Read this yesterday.

(Spoiler warning) The bit where he breaks down how he'd guard LeBron James is fucking brilliant, both because of the inside angle (which I love), and for the way it drives home how he can't turn it off.

Halloween Jack, well the author pretty much says what an asshole he can be right before the anecdote, I don't think the author is trying pull the wool over anyone's eyes.
posted by dry white toast at 5:06 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, if he runs out of things to win, there's always gambling.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:06 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Read this yesterday. I mean, it's not bad, especially by sports journalism standards.

But it's really really light on specifics. Maybe because he didn't really sit for an interview? It comes off more like he let the reporter lurk quietly in the corner while he (Jordan) bullshitted around with his friends. While there's some allusion to his frustration in Charlotte, you get the distinct feeling that questions about just how record-settingly awful his Bobcats teams have been were expressly off-limits. Mostly it's just a recounting of things we already knew, combined with generic middle-aged guy stuff about not wanting to get fat, and a lot of a minor details about Jordan's friends.

I'm genuinely curious about Jordan's legendary competitiveness and gambling sprees which seem, to an outside observer, to border on manic behavior, but there's not much here. Of course ESPN wasn't going to roast their golden goose, but a little more depth would have been nice.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:09 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude won his 6th championship and went out next day to bang 1000 jumpers. Turn his fucking stereo to 11 or whatever he wants - his plane, his fucking stereo.

I wish I was 1/10th the competitor and winner that dude is.
posted by sfts2 at 5:15 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but if you were 1/20th as content, you'd probably be considered the happiest guy in town.
posted by skewed at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


I admired him for that deal where he tried to become a baseball player. He must have known that he had a small chance of success and that he was going to be mocked for it.....unless his ego is actually titanic enough to think that he was going to breeze right up to the big leagues.
posted by thelonius at 5:19 PM on February 18, 2013


Fuck Jordan.

Sincerely,
A Pistons Fan
posted by NoMich at 5:20 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are some superficial similarities between this MJ profile and another profile of an icon turning 50, Frank Sinatra. For me, the inability of MJ to turn off the competitive drive was more sad than inspiring.
posted by stannate at 5:21 PM on February 18, 2013


On a long trip to China in the Nike plane, he woke up just as everyone else was taking an Ambien and settling in to sleep. Didn't matter. He turned on the lights and jammed the plane's stereo.

Please tell me the song was "I Believe I can fly"
posted by hellojed at 5:23 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Fuck Jordan.

Sincerely,
A Pistons Fan


Michael Jordan 49 pts vs. Pistons - "Freeze-Out Revenge" Game - 1985

After this 59pt game on national TV on Easter Sunday in front of a record crowd at Detroit, the Pistons' coach Daly had enough. He vowed never to let MJ beat them again. Born was the beginning of the most awesome defense ever - "The Jordan Rules". The basics of the defense were to 'funnel MJ to the middle so the big guys could knock him on his butt'. But, the defense was so specific that there was a rule for what to do wherever MJ had the ball: SI - Mission Impossible
posted by Golden Eternity at 5:24 PM on February 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Reads more like a Rolling Stone piece than ESPN.
posted by zagyzebra at 5:34 PM on February 18, 2013


I am not competitive in the least. I really can't handle sports or games for very long unless I concentrate solely on it being a test of my own ability to do better than the last attempt. The thought of being sort of relentlessly competitive unendingly forever and ever is like the stuff of nightmares. This makes him, to me, someone more to be pitied.

With a huge fucking grain of salt, seeing as how man-to-be-pitied is lighting hundred dollar cigars with ten thousand dollar bills and laughing all the way to some bank in Hong Kong on his private jet while torturing his coterie of hangers-on....but yes, pitied nonetheless.
posted by nevercalm at 5:37 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll just leave this here.
posted by fellion at 5:38 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


More MJ long-form goodness from Sports Illustrated - The Coach who Cut Michael Jordan
posted by MOWOG at 5:38 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, if you want "MJ being an asshole" stories, they're all over. Here's him breaking Kwame Brown.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 5:48 PM on February 18, 2013


adding to Halloween Jack, here's an excerpt from Wikipedia:
In 2009, Chamillionaire crossed paths with Michael Jordan at a party for the basketball legend after bidding over $7000 for one of his jerseys at a Reggie Bush charity auction. After seeing Jordan posing for pictures with some ladies at the party, Cham tried for his own snapshot with him. "I don't ask nobody for nothin' I never do," Cham retells in a video on his Web site. "I was just like, man, this is just that one moment. I'm gonna ask Mike for a picture." The rapper approached Jordan, who was sitting next to filmmaker Spike Lee and members of the Boston Celtics, including guard Paul Pierce. "They were just chilling and I said, 'I don't mean to be rude, but Mike, I just wanted to know if I could get a picture." Although Cham was expecting to get a "No" from him, he wasn't expecting what Jordan actually replied; "I ain't taking pictures with no niggas!" Chamillionaire thought that Jordan didn't hear him properly and explained that he just paid $7000 for one of his jerseys. Jordan responded; "You know what, I tell you what, you pay $15,000 right now for a jersey from me and I'll take a picture with you."[52]
Cham charges that he's "never been so heated" in his life. Pierce even tried to chime in. "Paul Pierce was like, 'Yo, whoa, chill out. That's Chamillionaire, man," the rapper continued. Jordan didn't budge and retorted with an "I don't give a fuck, nigga!" Chamillionaire then turned to Spike Lee, shook his hand and said "It's all good." Describing Jordan's A-list entourage upon his departure, Cham said they "all just had that look like, 'That's just how Mike is."
Chamillionaire excuses Jordan's "most rudest" behavior by reasoning that "this dude must feel a certain way inside, where he just be treating people like that." Nike and Jordan apparently tried to apologize by sending Cham jerseys and shoes. Cham says he lost respect for the legendary basketball player following the ordeal, allegedly responded to the peace-offering by saying, "No, nigga."[53]
posted by mulligan at 5:57 PM on February 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


/r/Chicago has a nice collection of "Jordan is an asshole" stories if you want the local perspective.

And to the guy that still thinks the White Sox gig was Michael just broadening his horizons...um...yeah. That's a great story.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:05 PM on February 18, 2013


Yeah, everybody "knows" it was because Jordan was on double-secret probation from the NBA. He was required to leave basketball for a year and a half, chase a weird childhood dream, then come back to the NBA out of shape and too late in the season to get his game back by the playoffs so he looked like a chump.
posted by skewed at 6:14 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


And then, the very next year, he proceeded to lead his team to the first of three consecutive championships. Boy, did he ever have egg on his face!
posted by Atom Eyes at 7:26 PM on February 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The point is that if he had been unwillingly suspended with the understanding that he would be able to come back at some point, he would have been ready for that first playoff run. So for the conspiracy theory to work, you have to invent some reason that Jordan was only allowed back after one and a half seasons, and didn't know beforehand when he'd be reinstated.
posted by skewed at 7:43 PM on February 18, 2013


Jordan was the greatest basketball player (so far), but a terrible general manager and is generally bad human being. If you wait on him, your tip is "meeting him". He drafted Kwame Brown. He's "contending" for draft picks as the head of the perennially bottom-dwelling Hornets. He's a fairly heavy gambler and also an adulterer. He's essentially taken his enjoyment in humiliating people on the basketball court to the real world with negative results in both his professional and personal lives.

I give him credit for trying baseball.
posted by Challahtronix at 7:49 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently even at 50, Michael Jordan beat Michael Kidd-Gilchrist one-on-one.
posted by banished at 8:10 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


You want Jordan conspiracy theories, look into stuff about how his dad was killed because Jordan's gambling put him in deep with the wrong kind of people. I think those stories were disappeared years ago, but they floated around for a bit, despite being some pretty heavy shit.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:18 PM on February 18, 2013


Apparently even at 50, Michael Jordan beat Michael Kidd-Gilchrist one-on-one.

From the article:
A while back, his brother, Larry, who works for the team, noticed a commotion on the practice court. He looked out the window of his office and saw his brother dominating one of the best players on the Bobcats in one-on-one. The next morning, Larry says with a smile, Jordan never made it into his office. He got as far as the team's training room, where he received treatment.

"You paying the price, aren't you?" Larry asked.

"I couldn't hardly move," Jordan said.
There's a reason they play 82 before the playoffs.
posted by Etrigan at 8:28 PM on February 18, 2013


I never rooted for Jordan when he was playing (Lakers fan; at first didn't want to believe that he was better than Magic, later just wasn't paying attention to the NBA), but I've really enjoyed the "Jordan at 50" coverage in the newspapers and on ESPN. Watching his amazing basketball career's greatest moments really is a treat. Partially because of the amazing skill and intensity he displayed, secondly the remarkable consistency of his attitude and approach-- take no prisoners. The amazing this is that he was still liked and admired, most people with that style are feared but not loved.

As far as a personal story, here's one! My friend used to tend bar at a place in downtown Santa Barbara, where I grew up. There was some sort of big-time summer basketball camp at UCSB every year that coincided with the town's summer festival "Old Spanish Days", commonly known as Fiesta. Every year, Jordan and some of his pals would tend bar for an hour or so at this place right in the heart of things where my friend worked. While they were there, a special bouncer would be in place. His job was to scout the (huge) crowd outside for the hottest girls and invite them in. When Jordan and (Barkley, or whoever) were done entertaining the locals by pouring drinks badly, they would take off through the back with as many as 6 of their favorite (willing) girls in the bar. One year, (happened to be Barkley) both guys were driving Ferraris, so a third guy was enlisted to borrow a car and ferry the extra girls up to the house in Montecito Jordan was renting. Now that I've written all this, I realize it's not really an interesting story but anyway an insight into what it's like to be MJ...
posted by cell divide at 8:30 PM on February 18, 2013


I grew up in Chicago, rooting for the Bulls. (Still do!) They won their first championship the week after I graduated from high school.

This all makes me feel very, very old.
posted by SisterHavana at 9:54 PM on February 18, 2013


Fuck Jordan.

Sincerely,
A Pistons Fan


Just don't walk out of this thread before it's over.

Oh snap!
A Bulls Fan.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:59 PM on February 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Relevant onion article
posted by casconed at 10:07 PM on February 18, 2013


Wasn't Jordan kinda part of the reason for the whole Tiger Woods ordeal? From what I vaguely remember Jordan was retired and divorced and hit Las Vegas along with Charles Barkley (a gambler if ever there was one). Woods got sucked in after meeting them and the rest is a shelved Nike ad campaign....
posted by PenDevil at 11:48 PM on February 18, 2013


The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
posted by effugas at 1:11 AM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know much about Michael Jordan, but this thread has reinforced that Paul Pierce is pretty chill.
posted by Biblio at 6:07 AM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


The bit where he breaks down how he'd guard LeBron James is fucking brilliant, both because of the inside angle (which I love), and for the way it drives home how he can't turn it off.

The thing is, Jordan has been working in basketball management for several years, and is pretty clearly incompetent. The guy was the greatest player ever and converted that into lots of money, but he seems like a massive asshole who has failed pretty badly at other things that he's tried. All that "competitive spirit" hasn't led to much success in other areas.
posted by leopard at 6:31 AM on February 19, 2013


Michael Jordan 1984: 45pts Vs. Spurs (MJ's First 40+pt Gm)

9th game as a pro.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:42 PM on March 9, 2013


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