The Original Hater: My Long Relationship with Michael Jordan

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Last week Michael Jordan was banned from Miami’s La Gorce Country Club for refusing to change out of the cargo shorts he was wearing, which were against club dress code. (Not the first time Jordan has been in trouble on the golf course).  While one could argue the club was being a little ridiculous, since Bermuda shorts are fine by club policy but cargo are enough to ban someone permanently, for me this was just another reminder that I hate Michael Jordan.

Not being a Jordan fan in 2012 is pretty easy.  In fact ever since his comeback with the Washington Wizards in 2001 it’s been pretty easy for people to hate on Jordan.  The start of my negative relationship with Michael Jordan can be summed up with a picture of my license plate.

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1992 just so happened to be the year I started watching basketball, it was also the second year of the Bulls first 3-peat, and the start of Jordan’s rise as the greatest player in history.  (I accept Jordan is the greatest player ever at this point, for years I tried to say it was Chamberlain or Russell or anyone but Jordan really.  Once in a while I still make a case for Kobe ultimately being better if he wins a few more titles but that’s mostly just to piss people off).  I remember being extremely excited for the 1992 NBA finals, I felt Clyde had been cheated out of the MVP award (I know outside of Clyde and maybe his immediate family I’m the only one who still thinks this) and was ready for him to prove everyone wrong in the match up with Jordan.  Then this happened:

I still to this day get upset anytime someone shrugs their shoulders.  Jordan broke my 10-year-old heart in this series and I’ve never forgiven him.  I get even more bitter when I think about the legendary rumors that following this series during the 1992 Olympics Jordan went after Drexler relentlessly in practice to try to break him down even further.

Before the 1993 NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Bulls I was again feeling very confident.  I bet a boy in my class forty dollars that the suns would win the series (neither of us had forty dollars as 11 year olds, I wonder where I’m at with interest now).  Despite my ‘the meek shall inherit the earth but they won’t get the ball’ Charles Barkley t-shirt which I was wearing on a regular basis at the time, Jordan was too good again and the Bulls won another title in 6 games. (Here is the full video of game 4 of the series, Jordan scored 55 points and Barkley had a triple double in a 111-105 Bulls win).

Following this season Jordan’s father was killed (I do feel badly about that) and he left the NBA to play baseball.  While virtually everyone else was crushed at losing basketballs biggest star, I was absolutely giddy.  The important thing to keep in mind here is that through his two stints with the Bulls essentially everyone loved Michael Jordan, being a hater at this point in time was much more difficult than it is today.

By the time Jordan made his second return to the NBA in 2001 with the Wizards, I was no longer a big NBA fan, but it still attracted my attention.  This is also the time period  for many people where Jordan started the move from beloved sports icon to sort of a villain.  Playing wise Jordan was still very solid, especially for a guy who would turn 40 during this comeback.  It was the front office moves, particularly this one:

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that started to turn people again Jordan.  And as Jordan continued to make poor executive decisions, more and more people started to come over to my way of thinking.  I’d never felt more vindicated.  During his 2009 Hall of Fame acceptance speech Jordan showed the side of himself I’d always seen when he famously brought up old beefs (such as not being on his high school varsity team) rather than graciously accepting the moment.

Following the speech many people pointed out how petty Jordan seemed in bringing up the past and refusing to let anything go, but as one high-ranking NBA executive stated “That’s who Michael is, it’s wasn’t like he was out of character.” (credit for this quote to Adrian Wojnarowski from yahoo sports, also links to a good article about the night).

Currently Jordan is the majority owner of the Charlotte Bobcats.  Last season the team finished 7-59, their .106 winning percentage was the lowest in NBA history.  Despite a seemingly better team this season (currently 7-9, matching last years win total) Jordan’s time as an executive has not been kind to his legacy.  During last season’s lockout Jordan was one of the hardline owners insisting that a 50/50 revenue split was too much to give the players.  This was especially surprising since in 1998 Jordan told Abe Pollin, then owner of the Wizards he should sell his team if he couldn’t make a profit, rather than taking a hard stand against the players. (credit)  In his time as an executive Jordan has proved what I always felt was true as I was growing up, he’s kind of a jerk, and he’s only interested in looking out for himself.

It’s pretty easy to find people who agree with you when you express distaste for Jordan at this point in time.  Even amongst his peers, while there is certainly a great deal of respect for Jordan and his accomplishments on the court, there doesn’t seem to be too many friendships (outside of best buddy/body-guard Charles Oakley).  So while I accepted a long time ago Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history, (at least until we see how many of those titles Lebron gets) I still can’t help but get excited every time I read another story about Jordan that helps to justify my feelings towards him.  While nothing will ever totally heal my poor 10-year-old heart from the 1992 NBA finals, other people viewing Jordan the I always have goes a ways in the recovery.

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