Excuse me if His Royal “Airness” returned and I quite frankly don’t care. And I don’t like the navy blue No. 23 either.
Michael Jordan made his triumphant return to the NBA Tuesday against the New York Knicks. The Wizards lost by two as Jordan attempted a potential tying three-pointer with seconds left but heard only the clang of the iron rather than the swish of the net.
The question is why: The rings – he’s got more than Rasheed Wallace got technicals last season. Well, maybe not that many. All-Star appearances – had a few by the time current teammate, No. 1 overall pick Kwame Brown, was attending elementary school. Why come back then?
Me? I was fine with the game the way it was heading. Basketball was making changes to liven up the NBA. Newer stars were emerging, and like a black cloud, Michael Jordan returns to rain on the parade. He had accomplished all the goals he set out to do and called it a day. But he couldn’t live without the spotlight. Being an owner just wasn’t fulfilling his competitive desire. So, now he wants to return to lead the Wizards to the Promised Land. Good luck, but don’t expect me to root for Richard Hamilton, Chris Whitney and company.
Jordan has soaked in more glory, rightfully earned, than any other sports figure in history. But, the game has a new dynasty in town, and Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant and the Lakers are probably a better team than any combination the Chicago Bulls ever put around Jordan and Scottie Pippen. While I’m not going to put any stock in the fact that Jordan had a sub-par performance against the Knicks in the opener, there’s a good chance that his skills are slipping. Most fans can’t forget the way a younger Allen Iverson shook off Jordan for a jumper before he retired, so what are the rookie high schoolers of today, some 20 years his junior, going to do to him?
What about the Jordan mystique? The guy who hits the shot to finish his career. The man who, sick with the flu, puts up an outing that most healthy players aren’t capable of. In the NBA Finals, no less. Jordan elevating above Craig Ehlo to beat the Cavaliers is embedded in my mind. Let it stay that way.
Michael Jordan finishing in last place with a dismal Washington Wizards team is not the legacy befitting a man of Jordan’s prestige on the court. If some people want to cheer him, fine. But I say that the game and Jordan need to move on.
- Contact Anthony Gagliano at email@example.com