Jordan: The Man That Is the Legend
Everyone in western civilization knows who Michael Jordan is and what he is known for. His name is known worldwide but most prominently in these United States of America. His skills as a basketball player have thrilled, entertained, and amazed us all. Jordan’s most well known accomplishments are that he has six championships to his name, ten scoring titles, and vertical leap that not only won him many slam dunk contests but also the name “Air Jordan”. In the game of basketball there has been no other star whose statistics and accomplishments have equaled his. However, the accomplishments of Jordan, while brilliant, are almost common knowledge. It is not the accomplishments but the drive in the man behind those accomplishments that can be intriguing if looked at more closely. The story of this man, as told in his autobiography For Love of the Game: My Story, in today’s world can teach the old and young many valuable lessons. Jordan’s abilities on the court stemmed from an incredible work ethic and his determination; also, Jordan provides a role model for youth of all races.
In his autobiography, For Love Of The Game: My Story, Jordan goes through his career from his being drafted into the NBA in 1984 till 1998 when he won his last NBA championship. The reader is lead through three different sections in Jordan’s book, which represent three different periods of his life. In the first section we are made familiar with the events leading to his third overall draft pick by the Chicago Bulls in 1984. In this beginning section we are also made familiar with the events leading to his illustrious signing with the shoe company Nike. The other main point from this section is the idea of Jordan striving to mature and come into his own as a player. Jordan wants to be considered among the best in the business. To do this, in his mind, Jordan had to come out of the shadow of the greats of this time period such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. Jordan wants to be considered not only an offensive threat but also a defensive threat. This he accomplishes by winning both the scoring title and defensive player of the year awards in 1988.
Jordan’s rise to immortal status is talked about in great detail in the next two sections of his autobiography. The second section of this book is started off with the phrase, “In the years between 1989 and 1993 I became a man.” This very effectively sums up the main message of this next section. Jordan continued to mature on the court and put up incredible statistics. In this time period Jordan was able to overcome any negative conceptions of his play and really make his mark on history as one of the, if not the, best players ever. As he put it, “I knew all the pieces of the puzzle were there for the 1990 season.” Jordan was speaking of his team in the 90-91 season, which was the first year he won a championship. It seemed all the puzzle pieces of the puzzle were there for the next two years as well because Jordan’s Bulls won the championship three years in a row. They had consecutive final wins against Los Angeles, Portland, and Phoenix. The next and last section of this autobiography began with the words, “It was like being a kid again.” Jordan was speaking of the time period in his life when he walked away from the game of basketball. After his third championship his father died in less than ideal circumstances. This plus the growing burden of being a superstar had made playing the game almost burdensome for Jordan.
In this section we learn about the time he spent with the Chicago White Sox baseball organization before the baseball strike in 1995. Also, his eventual return to the basketball court, where he won three more consecutive titles before retiring, is spoken about in great detail. Jordan was able to regain his love and passion for the game of basketball during the time period while he was away from the game. This made his return and extra three championships all the more sweet.
As stated before, the lessons we can take for Jordan are not just in the statistics he put up as a player but also in the characteristics that he displayed while attaining his stardom status. The first of these characteristics is the work ethic he showed to become the kind of great caliber that he did. An example of this work ethic can be seen from the very beginning of his entrance into the NBA. Jordan demanded a clause in his initial contract with the Bulls that he called “Love of the Game Clause.” This clause basically said that Jordan could play basketball in the off season without having to worry about being cut from the team if he was injured. During this time a very low percentage of players had the freedom to play out of season without worrying about potentially hurting themselves and having their contracts taken away. In Jordan’s own words he says, “I needed to play…..I used the summer to improve…..I needed to be able to play the game of basketball without consequence.” Jordan’s work ethic would not allow him to take the summer off. He demanded better of himself. In one more instance we can see Jordan’s work ethic in another area outside of basketball. Jordan said, “If anyone didn’t think I was serious it was because they could not see the blood dripping off my hands or those 6 a.m. batting sessions.” He was speaking of the time when he was away from basketball and playing for the White Sox in major league baseball. Jordan’s work ethic demanded that he put in the work to make himself a better ballplayer. Clearly Jordan took all his endeavors very seriously.
Another characteristic that can be seen modeled in Jordan’s life is determination. This is an aspect that can be clearly seen throughout Jordan’s career. The troubles he went through during his father’s death and the way he worked through those times to come back to the game he loved shows determination. The very fact that in two different points in his career Jordan was on teams that won three straight championships shows drive and determination in an incredible way. Perhaps the best example of Jordan’s determination was in game five of the 1997 final series against the Utah Jazz. Jordan woke up that morning feeling very sick and fought through extreme dehydration to play anyway. He even ended up hitting the game winning shot for the Bulls. In his autobiography Jordan had this to say about that game: “I didn’t have any food, any energy, any sleep, or anything else. I don’t even remember a lot about that game. I have never felt as awful physically as I did in that game. I played that game on heart and determination and nothing else.” This kind of drive to compete and play to the best of his ability is an attribute that all people, in all walks of life, can learn to apply.
Most certainly, Jordan has reached superstardom in the United States as well as throughout the rest of the world. His abilities and performance on the basketball court have given us something to marvel at. There is no disputing the fact that Michael Jordan is synonymous with greatness. In our times, just as in any other time period, there is a need for positive role models in children’s lives. Jordan has the unique ability of being a role model to children no matter their age or race. As it says in one of his most famous commercials, who doesn’t want to “be like Mike”? Jordan captures the hopes, dreams, and imagination of children all over the world. White, Black, Hispanic, or any other, all want to be like Jordan. His positive presence on and off the court provides a role model for the masses. As Jordan said in the end of his autobiography, “Somewhere there is a little kid working to enhance what we’ve done. It may take awhile, but someone will come along who approaches the game the way I did. He won’t skip steps. He won’t be afraid. He will learn from my example, just I learned from others.”
There are always more people that will come after us and Jordan understands that. He knows he is a role model for the youth of today just as he had his own role models in his own youth. It is this presence that makes Jordan unique. He has held numerous scoring titles, he has won multiple championships, but his character and presence in society as a positive role model make him a legend. He is a man that will likely never be forgotten. He is a man that will always be famous. He is a man that matured and grew along the path of a work ethic and determination that is almost unmatched in today’s world. One last thought from Jordan’s autobiography says, “I listened, I was aware of my success, but I never stopped trying to get better.” Jordan never stopped trying to get better. This man can teach us many things. However, I think in this last quote Jordan literally speaks for himself on the kind of man he is and shows why he has had the impact that he has. He truly has taught the world what true greatness is and has earned the name “his Airness.”
Jordan, Michael. For Love of the Game: My Story. Chicago: Crown Publishing Group, 1998.
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