We have a Michael Jordan moment. Again.
It is strange that one of the greatest sports stories of the past two months has been that of a Chicago Bulls basketball team in the late eighties and nineties.
In the absence of live sport, the documentary series The Last Dance has done much to eliminate this itch for us and we are still hooked on Michael Jordan, more than 20 years after his retirement.
In the last episode of the series, Barack Obama says “that he has become an important ambassador for basketball in the world. Michael Jordan and the Bulls have changed the culture. “
NBA Hall of Fame Reggie Miller calls Jordan “the black Jesus.”
Why are we still so obsessed with Jordan? Some ideas…
1. His mentality of “winning whatever happens”
If you learn anything about Michael Jordan from The Last Dance, it’s that not only does he like to win, but he can’t help but win.
We see him defying everything from club doctors to suspected food poisoning to go out on the field and win and even invent personal blood feuds to have fun. He hit teammate Steve Kerr in training once to motivate him.
This is a glimpse of the attitude of Jordan who, at the end of the last dance, after winning six NBA championships, he seems especially very annoyed not to have had the opportunity, at 35, to win a seventh because the team was not offered one-year contracts.
“It’s exasperating to go at its peak,” he said, “I feel like we could have won seven. If I can’t try, I just can’t accept that. “
2. The Air Jordan brand launched the culture of sneakers
The Air Jordan is undoubtedly the shoe that launched the culture of sneakers. They first came out in 1985. By 1986, Nike had sold $ 100 million value of Air Jordan shoes and products.
A pair of signed 1985 sneakers has just sold for a record $ 560,000 (£ 463,000) in an online auction.
At first, Jordan did not want to sign an agreement with Nike. At that time, they were best known for their running shoes.
However, his former agent, David Falk, said in the series that the strategy with Nike was “to try to take a team sports player and treat him more like a golfer, a boxer or a tennis player, and the very first agreement was shoes ”.
It worked. Incredibly. Spike Lee made ads for them!
3. He influenced a whole generation of players
One of the greatest players to talk about Jordan’s influence on him is the great and late Kobe Bryant. In The Last Dance, he talks about playing against Jordan in the 1998 All-Star Game.
“I grew up watching Michael on TV, and now you can find yourself in front of him,” he said.
He says Jordan was “like a big brother” in providing advice.
“What you get from me is from him. I don’t have five championships here without him because he guided me so much and gave me so much good advice, “added Bryant.
4. He retired at his peak. And then I came back to start over
In 1993, after three consecutive NBA championship wins with the Chicago Bulls, Jordan decided to go and play professional baseball with the Birmingham Barons.
He cited a lack of desire to continue with basketball at the time and he appears to have been deeply affected by the death of his father (who had always encouraged him to play baseball).
Anyway, after a brief but promising move to minor baseball, he returned to the Bulls in March 1995 and drove them to three other championships from 1996 to 1998.
5. He was the first billionaire athlete
In the pre-digital age, it is perhaps even more impressive to think of the celebrity that Michael Jordan created.
Forbes estimates his net worth at $ 2.1 billion (£ 1.72 billion). His player salary over his career was $ 90 million (£ 74 million), but he earned an additional $ 1.7 billion (£ 1.4 billion) from business partners.
6. Space Jam is a banger from a movie
We are very excited about Space Jam II, with LeBron James, but it will have to do a lot to exceed the 1996 original in our estimates.
Michael Jordan teams up with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck et al, as well as Bill Murray, to face a gang of evil alien cartoons who want to enslave the Looney Tunes. What do you want more entertainment?
7. The Bulls were pretty average without him
We view the Bulls now as a great basketball dynasty, but, the truth is that they were a pretty mediocre outfit when Michael Jordan joined in 1984, and they haven’t managed to win another NBA championship since his retired in 1998.
The fact that they did not win the NBA Championship during their baseball hiatus also tells their own story.
Michael Jordan, to some extent, is the Chicago Bulls.