"You Gotta Be Kidding!"
by Mickey Charles CEO, sportsnetwork.com
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) --
The magic is not always in what one can do with mystical feats of prestidigitation but in the ability to influence and create spell binding and wondrous acts of wizardry from those in his presence. That is why Michael Jordan has mystified the naysayers and, predictably, choreographed a scenario that is still befuddling many.
Frodo Baggins, played by Elijah Wood, may inherit the ring, but he pales in comparison to the Lord of the Court...Michael Jordan. |
It was expected that he, the wondrous one that ranks right up there with Harry and the Lord of the Rings, would recapture the mesmerism and legerdemain of yore, flying through the air above the mere mortals that ply their trade in the world of professional basketball. He would dazzle and befuddle, hypnotize and confuse, find more ways to put the ball in the basket than Emeril has calorie-laden desserts. The domain of the NBA would be his to rule again, to once more, absent Captain Kirk, venture forth where no man has gone before. That was not to be and only the uninformed and less than savvy fans and journalists truly expected the illusionist, the Houdini of the hardwoods, to rise to the occasion with the same talents that have, with time and age, lessened just a wee bit.
Instead, Jordan has recognized his role and been the orchestrator for a team that has no right to win the number of games it has, to be as competitive as any out there, to find talent and abilities that seemed to have been hidden for too long among his teammates. He is a motivating force, an educator in and out of the paint, a teacher whose lesson books are distributed at the opening tap and classes conducted on the fly. He has gone from magician to mentor, idol to illustration, paragon to demonstration.
Michael Jordan knew what he would do when he returned to play in the NBA and there is little doubt of his mission. He is enjoying himself almost as much as when he was totally unstoppable, amazing the sports world with his singular talents. This is infinitely better than sitting home and counting zeros in his bank account. Well, almost. Ali might be the most recognizable sports figure to have ever landed on the planet but could Michael be far behind? That is still the case today.
No one on the Washington Wizards would be as good as they have become without Jordan's presence and guidance. Richard Hamilton is taking notes as he dribbles, memorizing moves with each drive towards the basket. Christian Laettner was always a bit over-rated and lived off one miraculous shot in college but he has found himself a more than adequate role-player within Michael's World. Brendan Haywood, Hubert Davis, Chris Whitney and Tyroon Lue, exiled from Los Angeles, know that they can win games. Jahidi White is now someone that opposing teams talk about and prepare for as much as they do for Kwame Brown. Can anyone called Popeye Jones be real? Michael has made him so.
He has woven a tapestry in Washington that resembles a competitive team. Doug Collins joined him as coach but is he really nothing more than a suit on the bench? This is Jordan's team...always was and will be for as long as he chooses to make it so.
The expectation was that he would come out of retirement and attempt to be what he was in the past. That thinking was ludicrous from the outset. The ever-engaging smile of Jordan hid the fact that he knew precisely what he was doing. He was smiling with and about the journalists who did not know what to write and knew even less about the man. He was going to guide, instruct, lend and contribute to creating a team that would have self-respect and an attitude that would keep them from being just another "W" in the record books of other NBA clubs that they would face.
Will they continue to win? Not now that they have been discovered. Not now when the realization has become abundantly clear that Michael will do what he has to do when he has to do it to ensure victories on occasion. He is not out there to be better than the pretenders to the throne, the Allen Iversons of the league. They can never be Michael. They do not have the talent and all the scoring crowns in the world will not make it otherwise. They cannot lead as he can, and occasionally passing off to one's teammates does not bring with it the label of "team player." It only means that you have had a conversation with the coach and noted your team's place in the standings.
Professional basketball is an egocentric sport and the universe of the average player's mentality is that he is on an island, can do what he wants when he wants, the checks he cashes each week are sufficient solace for his team's losses and his press clippings are the salve that negates all else. Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and a few others may be rare exceptions but the emphasis is on rare.
Michael Jordan has undertaken a role that few others even understand. He has exerted his influence in ways other than still being one of the top scorers in the league. He knows that leading comes in many forms and he has elasticized his being to conform to the one that is required of him now. That is what makes him what he is.
Michael is the wizard in every sense of the word. Can Harry and the Lord of the Rings go to their left? You gotta be kidding me!