Dear Michael Jordan,
For years, we watched in awe, as you, the magician with the bald head, smiling face knocked off great team after great team on your way to six championships, all with your tongue sticking out all the time, as if you were toying with your opponents as much as the ball. We’ve seen you perform physics-defying acts in mid air, shoot a free throw with your eyes closed, dunk from the free throw line and knock down shot after game-winning clutch shot. Michael Jordan, you ruined basketball.
Kids grew up watching you and trying to grow up to “be like Mike”. Impossible standards were set as the kids tried to reach the sky like they saw you do. Most soon gave up reaching those impossible standards. Some chased it longer, wasting away their lives. Michael Jordan, you ruined basketball for kids.
Any player in the next generation that entered the NBA was matched up against you. Kobe Bryant has spent an entire career chasing your shadow. He’s the one who’s gone closest. Grant Hill was the “next MJ”. Vince Carter, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, all names that came under the “next MJ” tag. None of them could come close to your legacy. Michael Jordan, you ruined basketball for the next generation of players.
Any new young player, who enjoys reasonable success or has great talent, is immediately compared to you. LeBron James is a fantastic talent. He’s strong, athletic, a great passer, rebounder and scorer. He also may be the most complete defender in the entire league. But, we struggle to look past the fact that he’s an average shooter and doesn’t have a great post game and are always ready to criticize him heavily when he fails, but not to shower him in praise when he does deserve it. Michael Jordan, you’ve ruined basketball for all great players of the future.
Dirk Nowitzki delivered a great 21 point, 11 rebound performance in Game 4 of the NBA Finals while suffering from a fever. Yet to us fans, it seemed normal. LeBron James scores 30 points in games quite regularly. Yet when, he scores just 2 points in the last quarter of a final game, we call him out for not being “clutch”. LeBron (while at Cleveland) hit a fade-way three against Orlando to clinch the game. Yet there is only one “The Shot”. We, as fans, have completely lost the ability to appreciate greatness. Nobody’s “greatness” matches up to yours. Michael Jordan, you ruined basketball “greatness” for the fans.
When LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami, he was met with a shower of abuse for “ruining his legacy”. Nobody praised him for forming a formidable team, tuned to compete for multiple championships. Wade and LeBron are constantly compared to your airness and Scottie Pippen. When Kobe Bryant was accused of rape, we laughed at him for trying to be better than you. We didn’t watch and appreciate these players’ talents. We just looked for ways to pull them down in comparisons with you.
Michael Jordan, you ruined basketball for everybody, and we enjoyed every single, bloody, magnificent moment of your perfection. Thank you for being there.