ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ERIC CLARK
The image of a crossover dribble and shot from the elbow to win yet another NBA championship is probably how most of us remember the legendary Michael Jordan.
Yeah, he’s back. And yes, we all know about the return of His Airness. How can we not? The hype has been ridiculous and at times downright disgusting. We heard Michael was coming out of retirement before Michael knew he was coming out of retirement.
Jordan is probably the best player to ever play in the NBA. Those who think he won’t dominate games like he used to better have their heads examined.
He might just be a man without basketball, but he’s more than just the greatest player of all time. He may embody what basketball is all about.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard the expression, “He’s the next Jordan,” to describe an up-and-coming star. I think we will soon see why that expression has been used loosely and arbitrarily.
I like watching Michael play, no question about it. But the NBA game is so out of control that you really can’t judge a player’s talent anymore. The only thing you can really judge on the floor of the NBA is athleticism.
You don’t see pure shooters like Larry Bird or fundamental passers and dribblers like Magic Johnson. All you see in the NBA is a bunch of muscle-bound leapers and one-dimensional players.
The NBA really promotes this type of play and I think it really hinders the development of good fundamental players and the perception of fans who watch the game.
No wonder you hear people so often say they would rather watch college basketball than the NBA, because it’s the only sanctuary for fundamental basketball left other than at the high school level.
Even at the high school level, too often kids spend time trying to leap out of the building-a la their NBA heroes-rather than concentrate on dribbling, passing and shooting free throws.
Jordan will be a breath of fresh air for the NBA. Here’s a guy who made a living being more athletic than any other player on the court. Now, he will have to use the fundamentals of the game to again show skeptics he is still the best player of all time.
But the question still remains: Why did Jordan come out of retirement?
I’ve heard it was to boost ticket sales in Washington and that Jordan’s ego has been feeding the comeback. But when it comes right down to it, I think Jordan wants to teach his team, his coaches and the league how to play basketball again and be successful playing it fundamentally.
Sure, Jordan will probably at some point surprise us by jumping over two guys and slamming it on their heads occasionally, but why should we be surprised? He’s been quieting skeptics since he arrived in the league.
I think Jordan’s return is great. If fans and analysts can get past the fact that Jordan has been out of the game for three years, I think we can all learn something from his comeback.
Jordan is a basketball educator. I think he will show us that being older only means you get wiser.
So when sports analysts start knocking him for coming back and asking why, maybe we should ask why not?