Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Populist Vs. Nonpopulist: Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame Speech

Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame acceptance speech was more polarizing and controversial than anyone expected. Personally, I loved it. I ate it up. I wasn't always a Bulls/MJ fan growing up. Since I have been a Nonpopulist my whole life you can imagine that I rooted against Michael for many years because he was always on top. I was a Phoenix Suns fan when Charles Barkley went to play for them and a Celtics fan before that when they were done winning championships and Larry "Back Spasm" Bird was a mere shell of his former self. No, it took many years for Michael to win me over. I wasn't really a fan of his until after his 2nd retirement (the first non-baseball one.) I don't remember the moment he won me over, but he did. It was probably with the help of a close friend who kept feeding me Jordan stories like the time he was playing for the Wizards and a younger player blocked one of shots. Jordan was so indignant that a player had dared to block one of his shots he ran the floor and pinned that guy's shot against the backboard and the trash MJ talked to that young player was also visible on his face. What really sealed my fandom for Jordan was his book, Driven from Within. That book was amazing in detailing Jordan's personal drive. He really wanted to win by any means necessary and meant it as you can see by his career.
All that aside, I can't really find any fault with his Hall of Fame induction speech where he has come under so much fire since he gave it. Sure, he got a few jabs in. He's Michael effing Jordan. He's allowed to do what he wants as far as basketball is concerned. Yes, he jokingly ribbed the coach that cut him in favor of Leroy Smith. Since that fact has come to light so many years ago everyone else in the known universe has as well. The main comment I've heard disparaging Jordan's Hall of Fame speech is that he was being petty or vindictive. That's a crock of crap. When you look at his speech through the perspective of his competitive desire being the only thing in his life, understanding that it consumed him and still does, you can accept him for who he is and appreciate his speech for what it was. And if you can't get on board go watch the flu game and the Sports Century classic on the flu game. Child, please.

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