I, like many others in the sports world, was ecstatic to hear of Michael Jordan’s decision to return to the game of basketball. Some will say that he is “washed up” and will only be a “fraction of the superhuman” he once was, and that he needs to remain in the owner’s box. Others will expect the same dazzling play the man had the day he first stepped foot on a NBA court. Me, I only expect to see the gleam in his eyes to be back playing a game he loves.
His heart will always be in basketball, and to prove that, he is doing something that no other professional sports athlete has done. He is giving his first season’s salary to the relief efforts for the victims of the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters.
It may be a paltry $1 million, but it’s more than twice what any other sports team has given. The New York Mets baseball players gave their salaries for last Friday’s (Sept. 21) game, which totaled around $500,000, to the relief effort. That was just one game. This man is forfeiting one year’s salary, 82 games, to the cause. It may seem miniscule, when you compare it to the amount of money he already has, but it just shows that his heart is actually in two places.
If more professional athletes, who claim to play the game because they love it, gave their season’s salary to the cause, or any other cause, this world would be a much better place. Athletes like Alex Rodriguez make more money a game than I will make in the four years I spend in college, and last I heard, he didn’t donate anything.
I’ve always questioned why anyone would “charge” $100 million to play a game they love, and still don’t think anyone is worth that much. Hopefully, Jordan’s return and donation will spark the sports world into putting their money where their mouths are and following suit.
Even if Jordan fails in his two-year stint in basketball, he has not only cemented his entry into the National Basketball Association’s Hall of Fame; he’s also clinched the award for sports humanitarian of the century.
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