OT: Interesting article on Michael Jordan at 50(!)

Submitted by BlueinGR on February 17th, 2013 at 4:01 PM

First post, but I figured this is safe since it doesn't ask for medical or parenting advice, and I haven't seen this mentioned on the board.  Anyway, I came accross an interesting article today from ESPN's Wright Thompson about Michael Jordan at 50.  It's a little long, but worth the read IMHO.  Interesting how much his competitive drive seems to be a blessing and a curse at the same time.  Having grown up in the 80's and 90's, I can't believe MJ is FIFTY.  I'm thankful that I got to see him play at his best, and I'm not sure we'll ever see a player/icon like him again.




February 17th, 2013 at 4:04 PM ^

Its strange to me how much coverage MJ at 50 is getting. ESPN is doing little mini-specials about it on every one of their shows it seems. I guess I don't really get why it matters that much


February 17th, 2013 at 4:17 PM ^

The amount of coverage has surprised me too, but I suspect many have the same reaction that I did, which probably has something to do with it.  The article doesn't really focus on his birthday itself, but does give an interesting look at MJ behind the scenes, though, which is why I thought it was a good read.

Buck Killer

February 17th, 2013 at 4:09 PM ^

Wayne is probably the only more dominating athelete. Second and third aren't even in the same class, especially looking at numbers in hockey. Jordan was the very best ballplayer without question. Unless you are young or a media person trying to hype a weak Lebron or Kobe story it isn't close. I hear the Pippen stories and laugh out loud. He was shit when Jordan arrived and shit when he left. You pull triple teams and leave me free, well I will score 20 a game. Jordan was the man!


February 17th, 2013 at 4:43 PM ^

Poster boy for the importance of balance in life as well wisely choosing sustainable outlets. His whole existence by most accounts was centered on being considered the best ever at a game where people toss a ball through a hoop. He did almost nothing to use his position to advance causes for the disadvantaged in his own race so as to risk upsetting his corporate handlers.  Overall, way less relevant than he should have been.

After all that insane effort towards one goal, he sits retired and powerless. He has to listen to the growing chorus of people saying James is better. This is a guy that was still a title-less punchline less than 9 months ago.   Show's how fleeting that whole obsessed goal was along.

Jordan has had the competitive outlet of executive and basically has been pretty indifferent to it. Guy was a tota ass when he played, so the lousy executive part has been fun to watch. 

The greatest basketball player ever he is though. I don't see it even up for debate.


February 17th, 2013 at 5:19 PM ^

I'll take Wilt Chamberlain.  Chamberlain took crappy teams to the playoffs, and had the misfortune of eventually having to play two on five basketball against the Celtics, who had world-class players at every position, every year.  

His PPG is the same as Jordan's. and he dominated the Knicks in the 1972 NBA Championship with a broken hand, putting up 24 points, 29 rebounds, 8 assists, and 8 blocks.  

There was no 24-hour media coverage at the time.  Chamberlain's 100-point game wasn't even televised or taped.  Any media hype went to the Celtics, who had assembled a near-unbeatable team.  There was no ESPN, cable, etc.

Chamberlain played the last two years with former Celtic Bill Sharman as his coach, and he adjusted his game to be a defensive center like Bill Russell.  He sacrificed his stats, averaging 14.8 and 13.2 his last two years.   Despite those two years, he is still tied with MJ at 30.1 ppg for his career.  

MJ was a great player, but he was the beneficiary of a fairly-new ESPN hyping every move he ever made.  Sorta like they are still doing now.  

Dutch Ferbert

February 17th, 2013 at 7:29 PM ^

I hated Jordan back then, but now I have to admit he is the best ever. I cannot say the same about the Bulls.

Jordan's Bulls, though great, won in a different era than the 80s....which probably was the high point of the NBA. Just think, the 80s had some great teams (the Celtics, Lakers, Rockets, for a couple years, Sixers early in the decade, and Pistons) and players (Magic, Bird, Dr. J, Isiah, Kareem Abdul-mfing-Jabar). Kevin McHale once broke the Celtics single game scoring record, only to have Bird break it nine days later. The Pistons took a couple years to get through the Celtics, then they had to get through the Lakers. THAT was a competive league. Once the Pistons got old, Jordan had nothing in his way...Barkley and Malone are not Bird, Magic or Kareem. Jordan's Bulls didn't dominate until those guys were old or retired.

Would have been interesting to see how the Bulls would have competed against the 80s Lakers and Celtics. I would put my money on the Celtics/Lakers.


February 18th, 2013 at 11:38 AM ^

I don't think would have won rings if they'd been playing against those Lakers and Celtics teams in their prime.

I think those last three championship teams would have. I don't know about three in a row, though.


February 17th, 2013 at 5:48 PM ^

I'm thankful that I got to see him play at his best, and I'm not sure we'll ever see a player/icon like him again.

People always say this, but someone eventually arrives to fill the void. Kobe Bryant is more or less the same type of player. The rape charge cost him the chance at being the same type of icon, though.

LeBron was becoming an MJ-like icon before he moved to Miami. That set him back in the public eye. There will eventually be a guy who has that level of play and doesn't do something to shoot himself in the foot off the court.


the Glove

February 17th, 2013 at 8:04 PM ^

The Bulls were mediocre while Pip was out the year they won their 5th championship. It wasn't till he came back from injury that they became a champion team again. Also, if I'm not mistaken they went to the conference championship the year that Jordan was gone to baseball.


February 17th, 2013 at 6:15 PM ^

I find it very ironic and hypocritical of MJ to call today's players coddled when he EXPECTS everyone to coddle him.! He's the biggest diva I've ever seen.

Miss Bolivia

February 17th, 2013 at 7:34 PM ^

You would think that someone like him would do lots of things to help kids or donate for a cause. Never heard anything about him doing much. I remember kids getting killed over his shoes, its crazy.


February 17th, 2013 at 8:24 PM ^

Besides Lance Armstrong, has any athlete ever done much in the way of helping people? They all have their foundations, which are as much for tax purposes and good PR as anything. But do any really go the extra distance to actually make a difference? And I mean beyond the occasional good PR move that Jordan also has done.


February 17th, 2013 at 8:46 PM ^

There are actually quite a few athletes who have.  In the NBA, David Robinson and Dikembe Mutombo are two that have done a lot to help struggling communities (in Mutombo's case, in his native Congo).  Going back further, Roberto Clemente (who died flying relief supplies to earthquake victims) is the ultimate example.

I don't know if it's fair to expect Jordan to be as noble off the court as those guys, but he could have at least lobbied Nike not to massively mark up the price on his shoes.  The Air Jordan was the first shoe that was priced well beyond its target audience.  Before the Air Jordan, top-of-the-line basketball shoes were still pretty cheap.  That shoe started the ridiculous trend of basketball shoes costing over $100 (despite the fact that they still only cost like $10 to make).  Stephon Marbury has tried to help out in this regard with his Starbury brand, but it didn't gain a lot of traction in the marketplace.

(BTW, Lance Armstrong's Livestrong campaign is more about "raising awareness" than actually contributing to cancer research.)


February 18th, 2013 at 5:30 AM ^

So, I am not sure those examples, including the ones of Woodson and Mesko below, are more than Jordan.  A couple of examples of things Jordan has done:

• In 1994, Jordan founded the James R. Jordan Boys and Girls Club and Family Life Center in the memory of his father. Located in Chicago, Illinois, Jordan gave $2 million to construct the sprawling facility that houses a computer center, science lab, healthcare, clinic, gym, day care center and more. The Center caters to more than 1,000 children and families each week.

• He collaborated with Nike-subsidiary Jordan Brand to make a donation of $500,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeast Louisiana’s Slidell Unit to help finance the construction of a new athletic gymnasium that the kids of the Boys and Girls Club will use for their activities and community events.

• In 2006, he donated $450,000 to Habitat for Humanity to aid rebuilding efforts in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Through Hoops for Homes, a program created to benefit the relief operations, several pairs of Michael Jordan autographed Air Jordan shoes were auctioned off to raise additional funds. The auction money helped rebuilt the homes ravaged by the hurricane in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans.

• Jordan also supports education initiatives. Parts of the proceeds from his auctions go to Jordan Fundamentals, an education program which grants $1 million annually for teachers. In 2006, he and his then-wife Juanita made a $5 million donation to Chicago’s Hales Franciscan High School.

I live in VA and I can guarantee none of my friends or colleagues could tell you that Woodson gave anything to charity.  Just because we are unaware of how one donates his time and money does not mean it is not happening.  In fact, if we don't know it may be more genuine.

BTW - Livestrong is actually dedicated to providing support for people with cancer and their loved ones.  It is one of the only organizations that find a way to do this and has touched far more lives and had far more impact at this point than any research organization.  Hopefully that will change when they find a cure.  To the point below, Lance was the CEO and heavily involved in the day to day operations.  Far more than any athlete I have seen, but I do not want to turn this into another Armstrong debate.

snarling wolverine

February 18th, 2013 at 10:51 AM ^

BTW - Livestrong is actually dedicated to providing support for people with cancer and their loved ones. It is one of the only organizations that find a way to do this and has touched far more lives and had far more impact at this point than any research organization.

Bullcrap. Read this article to learn more about Livestrong:



February 18th, 2013 at 5:22 PM ^

I have dealt with them personally.  Also, if you ever listen to ESPN and Stewart Scott, you will find some good interviews where he describes exactly what they do because he is also one of the people they have helped.  They do a great job of supporting cancer patients and their family, I know first hand.


February 18th, 2013 at 5:43 AM ^

Another article by Forbes that lists Jordan among biggest celebrity philanthropists.




Also, you are asking why he did not make a cheaper shoe that more people can afford, than site the one attempt to do it that failed terribly.  Maybe he did not do it because he, and Nike, knew it would fail horrendously.  Lets not rip the guy for trying to make money.


February 18th, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

I don't think you're following my point.  Before the Air Jordan, all top-of-the-line basketball shoes were relatively inexpensive.  The shoes that Dr. J, Magic, Bird, et al wore would sell for like $40.  

The Air Jordan started the trend of the super-expensive athletic shoe.  It's not because it was made of more expensive material.  It was a pure money grab by Nike.  Jordan was a hot name and Nike capitalized, selling it for $100 (and future models were more expensive still).  If my name were on a shoe that teenagers were literally shooting themselves to get because they couldn't afford it, I'm not sure I could live with that.  




February 18th, 2013 at 5:33 PM ^

I would counter with a couple of points.  First, it is unlikely Jordan had anything to do with the decision on how much to sell those shoes for.  In addition, when those shoes first came out Jordan was a big name but nowhere near as big as he is now.  In fact, those shoes helped make Jordan the name he is, arguably more so than his play.  My point being he did not have nearly the amount of sway with Nike then as he did by say the early to mid 90s. 

Either way you still can't blame a guy for trying to make some money. Its not like he prevented kids from getting shoes, he just prevented poor kids from getting his shoes (myself included!).

Could he have done more, certainly.  But there are very few people we can't say the same thing about, again myself included.  The attitude in this thread seemed to imply that Jordan has done nothing, when in fact he has done a lot. He has not taken it to the next level where he uses his name to get everyone else in the world to also contribute to the same cause (which is why I brought up Armstrong, for better or worse).  Very few, if any, athletes go this route.  Very few people go this route (Bill Gates does come to mind though).  So maybe we should not throw him under the bus for not doing something that almost nobody else does.  He does give a lot of cash to charity and kudos to him for that.


February 17th, 2013 at 10:33 PM ^

Jordan was a great player, but I have always been a little annoyed with people (especially former athletes) saying that today's players couldn't cut it back then.  Players in the 80's were definitely tough and athletic, but to say that Lebron James or Dwight Howard would struggle to put up similar numbers 30 years ago because guys were allowed to play tougher defense is ludicrous.  

Case in point:  Karl Malone was regarded as one of the most physical players of that era, a man who could muscle his way almost anywhere and score against "tough" defenses.  He was listed at 6' 9" and 250 lbs, and I'd argue those numbers are a bit inflated given his weight gain later in his career.  Lebron James is listed at 6'8" and 240 lbs, which is about right.  But while Malone was not known as a particularly fast player (though certainly quick enough for the PF position), Lebron can take the ball from basket to basket as fast as most guards in the league.  Same with Isiah Thomas who was a pretty mediocre 3-point shooter, while Chris Paul's about the same size and has a career 3-point completion percentage that is better than Thomas's best season number.  

My point isn't to denigrate the accomplishments of players back then, but it was a game played with lesser athletes across the board, where defenses were still relatively crude and the physicality of the game had more to do with pure violence than athleticism.  Today's players would adapt to that style over time, and their physical tools would have made them dominant.  Do I think Jordan, Magic, or Bird would have been as good in today's game as back then?  Yes, but with the understanding that guys like Craig Ehlo and Sidney Moncrief would probably struggle to see the same level of playing time now than they did during their playing days.  

And one final note is that it was my understanding the reason they got rid of the hand checking was because it slowed down the game too much and hurt scoring.  Yet, for years guys were able to score despite these defensive "assaults", yet as players got bigger and stronger they struggled.  That would lead me to believe that whatever checking was going on wasn't that effective during Jordan's era, likely because guys weren't strong/skilled enough at employing them to hurt other players.