Greene’s Gripe: Somehow, someway Jordan’s greatness was taken for granted when he was on top of the world

by Dylan Greene
Sports Editor | May 12, 2020 1:00 AM

Put yourself in Michael Jordan’s shoes for just one minute (and no, lacing up your Air Jordan’s doesn’t count).

Imagine all the fame, all the glory, all the rings and all the money.

Seems like the life we all dream of growing up. But it’s clear that glamorous life is not all that it’s cut out to be if you’ve seen any of the eight episodes of “The Last Dance” on ESPN.

The documentary follows the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls and Jordan’s final season with the team and explores how Jordan became the greatest basketball player ever.

I was born about a month before Jordan and the Bulls won their sixth NBA championship in 1998 so I never got a chance to see Jordan play with my own eyes but I have come to realize there is no debate about who is the greatest athlete to ever step on a basketball court.

I used to entertain other names prior to this documentary but after watching just one episode, I have decided to no longer do that.

This documentary has shown me just how good Jordan was. His competitive nature is unmatched and it was amazing how he found any little thing to motivate himself even though he never needed any extra motivation. He was so intense and no one questioned his effort on the court because every night he left everything he had on it.

Jordan is an icon and the documentary shows just how crazy his fame was. Everyone wanted a piece of Jordan in the ‘90s. Fans, sponsors, friends and celebrities all wanted to “Be Like Mike” and on a daily basis Jordan faced pressure from every one of them to perform at the highest level not just on the court but off of it as well.

He couldn’t go anywhere without being on camera. His life was publicized everywhere and he was a role model for every kid. Jordan would literally trap himself in hotel rooms when the team was on the road just to get some alone time. Even then, camera’s were in his room capturing his every move.

All that attention can be overwhelming and take its toll and that certainly happen to Jordan. The constant questions about his future and criticism from the media pushed Jordan to the limit and tested him every second of every day.

Following the death of his father in 1993, Jordan had reached his limit. For some unfounded reason, people connected Jordan’s gambling habits to his father being tragically shot to death. They said his father was targeted for unpaid debts by Jordan.

There was no evidence showing this theory was true but people in the media berated Jordan and used the incident to question his character. So what did Jordan do? He did what his dad told him to do in their last conversation — he went and played baseball.

And of course Jordan was criticized heavily for the decision and every time he played a minor league baseball game, but in the end, he showed he could’ve made it to the MLB if he didn’t decide to return to the Bulls.

Jordan lived to prove people wrong and truly never cared what people thought of him but when you’re put on such a high pedestal and then constantly torn down by those who’ve claimed to love you, it can be frustrating.

Jordan was seen as Mr. Perfect and he was expected to uphold that title. Whenever he slipped up, Jordan was attacked. It was like no one realized he was actually a human. People make mistakes, even Michael Jordan.

Jordan is arguably the greatest athlete to ever live but it seemed like some people didn’t live in the moment and instead tried to critique every action he made. I’m obviously using this documentary as my basis for what the public perception was at the time, but it was almost as if people took his greatness for granite.

Jordan is a once in a lifetime figure who not only transcended his sport but the world. Jordan earned the fame but he didn’t deserve the criticism.

The last two episodes of the documentary are this Sunday, but I highly suggest you binge watch the series on one of ESPN’s streaming platforms in preparation for the grand finale. Because really, what else is there to watch on TV?

So the next time you slip on those Air Jordan’s and dream of flying through the air like MJ himself, just remember being like Mike isn’t what it seems.