We have mythologized Michael Jordan into a man who could almost walk on water, and could certainly walk on air. He legitimately is the GOAT — or, at the very least, one of a handful of players ever worthy of being in that conversation — but the idea he is perfect is far from true. (He was 6-7 in getting his team to the Finals, LeBron is 8-4, so LeBron lifted lesser teams farther, to use one devil’s advocate argument).
Not everyone always believed in Jordan, and that came out in a couple recent articles.
The Chicago Tribune ran a June 20, 1984, article about Jordan being drafted from their paper, where then GM Rod Thorn was not exactly selling Jordan as a franchise changing player.
“There just wasn’t a center available,” said Thorn. “What can you do?”
“He’s only 6-5,” said Thorn, who must use a different yardstick than Dean Smith, the Carolina coach. Down where the tobacco grows, Jordan has always been 6-6, not that one inch ever stopped Jordan from crashing the boards, hitting from the outside or playing substantially above sea level. By the time he gets to Chicago, or when negotiations for his wages get sticky, Jordan may be the size of a jockey. The Bulls aren’t even sure where to play Jordan. “Big guard, small forward,” said coach Kevin Loughery.
Jordan ended up being the perfect player at the perfect time — an all-time great who peaked just as the popularity of the game took off, and with a little help from Nike his image blew up.
Except, not everybody at Nike was down with Jordan being the face of the organization, Spike Lee told Sole Collector (remember Lee and his commercials helped blow up Jordan’s image).
“People don’t know about this, but the truth is a lot of people were speaking in Mr. Knight’s ear that it might not be too good for Nike to have Michael Jordan as the face of the company,” Lee revealed to Sole Collector. He added that there were worries that Jordan “might not appeal to white America, or the general market as a whole.”
Jordan, obviously, transcended the market and everything else.
But Jordan had his doubters and had his rough patches. He got his head handed to him year after year by the Bad Boy Pistons, who taught him how to win the hard way. He was thought of as the guy who couldn’t win the big one, who was too selfish a player to lead a team to a title.
In hindsight, it’s laughable. But that’s what you get when you try to define a person’s legacy before his career is over.