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The ‘G.O.A.T.,’ Michael Jordan Turns 50

February 26, 2013 by admin

 

A Column
 
By Joe Malanaphy
 
   Michael Jordan, the greatest player to ever grace the hardwood,(in my opinion,) turned 50-years-old this past Sunday. For me, this is mildly depressing because as I was growing up, this man was my hero. But he is 50 nonetheless, and I thought that deserved a mention.
     A decade after officially calling it quits for good, there is hardly a spot on this planet that you could visit where someone wouldn’t know who Michael Jordan is.
     Being slightly older than some of the student body on campus, I grew up in the heyday of the Chicago Bulls dynasty led by Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, John Paxson, the “Three-Headed Monster,” aka Will Perdue, Luc Longley, and Bill Wennington, along with a revolving cast of other great players.
     I first watched Michael Jordan play when I was about 7-years-old. From that point forward, all I wanted to do was play basketball, and to this day I am a die-hard Bulls fan.. I would spend endless hours in the driveway shooting, trying to imitate his moves long after the crickets were chirping on warm summer nights and everyone had gone to sleep.
     Ultimately I would end up trying out for basketball in elementary school, and even made the team thanks to the motivation I had been given from watching my hero on TV. I continued to play organized basketball up until my senior year of high school.
     Thanks to basketball, I was given a positive outlet as a teenager. Not only was I constantly challenging myself, but also staying in fantastic shape. I met some of my best friends on the court, many of whom are still my friends today. I learned discipline, structure, how to be a team player, all while having fun.  
     Now 32-years-old, I use the basketball court as my place of Zen. Whenever I feel stressed or just need to get away for awhile, I go there to find peace and am immediately transported back to a better time—a more innocent time.
     In just my life alone, I have endless wonderful memories from playing basketball, which are directly attributed to the inspiration I got as a child from watching this guy play. 
     We all know Michael Jordan’s stats at this point, or at least those who follow basketball or sports in general, so it wouldn’t make much sense to dole on about those achievements, but rather, how many other people’s lives were impacted just from watching what some may call a “dumb sport?” 
     I can think of many activities I could have been doing as a teenager had I not been playing ball, and quite a few of them are not good. While you can make this argument with many other athletes, musicians, actors/actresses etc. depending on who influenced you, my positive influence came from the last player to ever wear the number 23 for the Chicago Bulls.
     Now 50-years-old, MJ can look back on a legacy that still remains untouchable, regardless of who comes in and breaks whatever record. None of that matters, because they aren’t Michael Jordan. He was the most vicious competitor ever to step foot on the court and competed in an era against some of the best players the world has ever seen. That was a specialtime in basketball, and with exception to just over a handful of players, none of these guys can hold a candle to the NBA elite responsible for making up the original “Dream Team.”  
     Jordan played amongst legends like Charles Barkley, David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird (though not in his prime,) and he dominated all of them. 
     Jordan won six championship rings in 10 years, and he even took a break somewhere in the middle.   
     He didn’t cry and put himself on an All-Star team to win rings like many guys do today. He made the players around him All-Stars by demanding more of them and settling for nothing less than constant domination over their opponents. 
     I’m not trying to take away from the greats that came before him, but nobody left the kind of impact on a professional sport that Jordan did. Nobody had that vicious competitiveness, or killer instinct night in and night out, and I doubt we will ever see anything like it again.
    Jordan struck fear in the hearts of other players. And even at 50, for the fans there is always that dream or hope of one last return to the court, because even at his age, he’s still Michael Jordan, and if anyone could do it, it’d be him. 
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