Thursday, 20 December 2012
THE JORDAN SERIES-45
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
Previously On 'The Jordan Series'...
(1994) Every son wants to make his father proud...and Mike will have done that before he even picked up a basketball, let alone a club. Still the man who sticks his tongue out at the basket to emulate James R. Jordan, Sr at work followed his father’s dream of him playing baseball. That's all that needs to be said. That's all that matters. This was no round of rounders. This dedication was deeper than the 'Boys & Girls' club in his father’s name. Like Magic's tears for his dad in his MVP speech this was a public display of beautiful affection. It didn't matter what anybody else said because Mike father was looking down and smiling. Michael Jordan was a real baseball player.
1 Year Later.
The greatest basketball player of all-time Michael Jordan was back. Out of retirement Mr. 23...or not as he seemed to you and me. What's in a number you ask. Chance? Luck? Ask fellow Jordan luminaries Kobe Bryant and LeBron James who switched their jersey numbers the other way around from 8 to 24 (almost like Mike) and 23 (exactly like Mike) to 6 respectively. Tell the rafter and the history books, Michael Jordan himself had a different figure on the back of his vest for a minute too.
"When I came back I didn't want to play with the last number my father had seen me wear. Because he wasn't around. I thought of my return as a new beginning."-Michael Jordan From 'For The Love Of The Game'.
You can call it the ultimate collectors item now for hoop heads or anyone looking to get rich and unable to catch that sneaking Air Jordan train. The same number Mike wore in high school and his brother Larry wore in varsity. The same number hew wore as he swung around with baseball during the curve of his one year retirement with the Birmingham Barons. Two numbers that when added together make his Team USA Olympic jersey number of 9. The gold.
45. You can see it at the dunking closing credits of 'Space Jam', as Jordan makes his return to basketball after beating a team of Ewing, Barkley, Muggsy, Bradley and Grandmama mutated space aliens with Bugs Bunny, Bill Murray and co. After Mike did that and played and perfected his baseball swing, riding the buses of the minor league sport in a valiant show of honor in the name of his father. 'Space Jam' may have been fake but in baseball Mike was the real deal earning his place beyond his name to just have the number 45 on his back. Then after a grounded stint and an out of this world movie he truly came back, for the love of the game. 45, for the love of his family.
Still although the jersey change looked cool and had a lot of affectionate tribute behind it, it seemed to bring a little bit of bad luck. It just didn't feel the same without seeing 23 back in action completely. Although the jersey was retired and in the United Centre ceiling during Mike's late season return some wanted it brought down. Mike looked up to the rafters of his 23 banner moment but he also looked up to his brother so 45 fit. Plus take that 45 to 55 and witness a double nickel performance against the New York Knicks at Jordan's mecca of Madison Square Garden that caught everybody including John Starks (again...nah we take that back, Starks has put up with enough) off guard. Spike Lee knows nobody can mess with his main man Michael Jordan...noooobooody. With a boom, the Nike fresh king of basketball shook the room and finally everyone could see Jordan scoring like Will Smith wanted. Independence Day wasn't the biggest return to hit the world in 1996.
This Knick legend came off a game where Mike clutched at the talons of the Atlanta Hawks and hit a game winning basket. The struggling Bulls now made a 13-4 charge for the postseason and Scottie Pippen finally had the help the sidekick had given his leader for years. Still the Eastern Conference Finals and the massive Rookie road block of Shaquille O'Neal and his Orlando Magic kingdom was too much for the corvette of Jordan and his Chi-town engine. At the end of Game 1, Nick Anderson (a man who should not boast about the clutch) strip, stole the ball from Mr. 45, which led to a game winning basket for Orlando. He then made the comment that the greatest "didn't look like the old Michael Jordan". Well, that was all he needed. 23 came down and 31 points per where put up for the rest of the series.
Chicago may have lost to Orlando that series but next year they came back to avenge that once, twice, three times a Larry O'Brien as Jordan showed he wasn't just the player of old, the present and history making legendary legacy. While Nick Anderson threw free throws off the rim, Mike threw champagne and cigar smoke around the locker room. Championships reigned like his exhausted tears of joy. Number 23 was truly back still in the storied career of Michael Jordan forty-five still represents something. 45 went on record like a Gaslight Anthem song and ignited sales for a chorus of fans.
It represents a heartfelt dedication and valiant play in the face of calloused, bloody hands and unconditioned hooping in the rigors of a long baseball season that resulted in a full calendar year of sports work. Just because he's the greatest sometimes people don't just realize how much work and effort Michael Jordan put in. 45 represents that. It still represents great play and a cult moment in his career. It represents the return that everyone thought would happen or at least wished for. The return B.J. Armstrong kept asking about at practice like the army of reporters who just got a perfectly polite 'pardon me' from Michael Jordan as their quotable soundbite. The return that the fans about to sell-out the arenas and the kids wanting to keep their posters on their walls hoped for. The return Scoop Jackson wrote 'The Last Testament' for, R. Kelly sung 'I Believe I Can Fly' for and President Bill Clinton press conference asked for. The return of the king, the Lord of the Rings, the NBA's savior, the God of basketball. The G.O.A.T. Michael Jordan's encore was one everybody was waiting for.
"When I come back like Jordan, wearing the 4-5 / It ain't to play games with you / It's to aim at you"-Jay-Z