Skip to comments.Michael Jordan: Playing Above the Rim
Posted on 03/07/2021 6:22:32 AM PST by Kaslin
The Human Highlight. GOAT. His sheer vertical style of play was legendary, but that's not the story. He transformed himself from dominant athlete to one of the fiercest mental competitors of all time, with only one enemy, mediocrity. And while his brand flew high, to think, I never knew his politics? If not outspoken on politics, why such a vast appeal? Keep reading.
North Carolina to Chicago, Michael arrived in 1984 in an era that belonged to Larry Bird's Celtics and Magic Johnson’s Lakers of showtime fame. They were Gemini stars of legendary dynasties, and always on the top 10 list. They were the winningest teams in basketball history, and some bad boys! Even the superstar Jordan could not fly past these teams. They were big, and the league allowed real fouls.
Battered in the 1991 finals by the Detroit Pistons, of Rodman and Lambeer fame, Michael prepared to launch. Tragically, he would lose his father, switch to baseball, but eventually he returned. The results were six championships and two three-peats, plus mega stardom.
In the Netflix series The Last Dance, MJ opens up about his views on politics and activism during his playing days, and comments, “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” It occurred during the 1990 U.S. Senate race in North Carolina, when his mother wanted him to support a candidate running against incumbent Republican, Jesse Helms. Michael wisely told her he would not get involved with someone he didn’t know.
On the road with two teammates, Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen, off camera, he made the remark about Republicans and his biographer exposed it. Jordan claims it was not a formal statement, but I think it reveals qualities that appear absent in the modern NBA. Was Michael a sell out? If he was, so was every other Capitalist. Wasn’t he just saying all lives matter?
Michael described “a country that has provided my family and me the greatest of opportunities. The problems we face didn’t happen overnight and they won’t be solved tomorrow.” He also said, “I never thought of myself as an activist, I thought of myself as a basketball player.” Additionally, “I wasn’t a politician," he noted. "I was playing my sport. You know, I was focused on my craft. Was that selfish? That’s where my energy was.”
To challenge this honest statement from a patriotic star is to challenge the history of black athletes who might speak out but prefer their success do the talking. Many feel Jordan was not only within his rights, but dead right in the way he handled himself throughout his career. He might argue that real progress is made working within the system not only fighting it.
In The Last Dance, Jordan also confronts the idea of being a role model when he knows he can’t live up to everyone’s expectations, especially a biased political party. To not allow for his basic individuality is to say that only an activist can properly claim to be helping their community. What about the policemen, the truck drivers, those who are on the front lines in the pandemic? Is it really necessary for all people to protest?
Few still doubt that racial injustice played a role in history and still does, but must every black athlete be an activist? To demand that seems to stifle individual style in how each chooses to contribute. It seems to me that a lack of thought diversity only perpetuates the group stereotype that has plagued athletes.
Let’s be clear, few in the human race fly over a rim, switch the ball from left to right, and still score, but that’s spectacle. Natural talent will only get you so far, and many times for Jordan, it was not enough to win. To be fair, even to this idol, in his quest to dominate he was downright hostile, even violent with teammates.
Still, who has the audacity to criticize Michael Jordan with the level of pressure he faced in his career, on the court, and in his family, and not think he deserved to live his own life? The legacy of Jordan is in not being who we want him to be, but determinedly who he was.
Michael Jordan can do whatever he wants, that’s his freedom to choose, while it lasts. When I reflect on the greatest of all time, I will always imagine Michael flying high above the rim.
When you are tall enough to reach the basket with an outstretched hand, then is it really such a big deal that you can "slam dunk" the ball? Obviously there are many other skills in being a basketball player but the "slam dunk" has pretty much ruined the game in my opinion. Now your typical NBA team has a bunch of 7 footers standing near the net and shoving the ball in without even really needing to jump. Then when they make the slam dunk, they all make these grimaces and do the fist-pumping thing. All that show-boating over a play that took little skill is off-putting to me.
I thought the game was better when it was primarily a shooting game with a lot of hook shots and three-pointers. In fact, a late game three-pointer that put your team back in the game was electrifying. Also there were a lot more rebounds in the game back then. When you are under the net and slam-dunking all the time, not much of a chance for rebounds.
Not a criticism of Michael Jordan per se, who is obviously very talented on and off the court, but of what the game has turned into.
Maybe they need to make the hoop 12 feet high instead of 10.
That’s why I prefer to watch women’s basketball. That plus the jiggle factor.
“Playing above the rim.”
Isn’t that tea-bagging?
“they need to make the hoop 12 feet high instead of 10”
I agree with all you say.
Maybe they need to make the hoop 12 feet high instead of 10.
Now there’s an interesting idea. They should test that, just to see what it would do to the game. I’d love to see an exhibition match with pro players playing on 12 foot hoops. It would probably be like a time machine to the 1960s. I’ll bet even raising the hoop 6 inches would have a major effect yet wouldn’t be a visually obvious change to the height. They could experiment to find a height that gives the best mix of shooting and dunking.
Does any team play defense any more? The game has become boring. Jason Whitlock calls it “ Plumlee Ball”.
It hurt to see Michael Jordan crush the Knicks back in the early 90s.
Now, I just marvel at the beauty of His Airness elevating on the baseline and smashing a dunk over Bill Cartwright.
He never stopped competing, never gave in, never gave up.
—”When you are tall enough to reach the basket with an outstretched hand, then is it really such a big deal that you can “slam dunk” the ball? “
NOT ALL OF THEM.
Michael Anthony Jerome “Spud” Webb is an American former professional basketball player. Webb, who played in the National Basketball Association, is known for winning a Slam Dunk Contest despite being one of the shortest players in NBA history, being listed at 5 ft 6 in tall. Wikipedia
“When you are tall enough to reach the basket with an outstretched hand, then is it really such a big deal that you can “slam dunk” the ball? “
Dude, Michael Jordan is not Mark Eaton who once blocked a dunk without jumping.
Raising the rim only gives taller players an even greater advantage. The rim should be lowered. If the rim was set at 8’ then height would not matter near as much.
It would be like the Boston Bruins getting an 800-pound goaltender.
Yup, people put the weirdest thing in comments. ;)
The game is dictated by the 3-pt shot now. Every team is looking for perimeter players that can shoot >40% from beyond the stripe. Now the dunk is a consolation prize because it was a missed-opportunity for a 3. Watch how many times a center kicks the ball back out to a guard way beyond the top of the key or a forward loitering in the deep corner.
Basketball’s version of “Moneyball”.
Who cares about player height mattering? The issue is too much dunking, and raising the rim would mean less dunking and more shooting.
OTOH lowering the rim would open the door to midget basketball, and that could have some upside.
“Now your typical NBA team has a bunch of 7 footers standing near the net and shoving the ball in without even really needing to jump.”
Twenty years ago, maybe. These days if a 7-footer can’t generate plays from the high-post he won’t last in the league. Watch Embiid of the Sixers or Antetokounmpo of the Bucks hoist 3’s a couple times a game. Both of these guys can guard the perimeter pretty well for 7-footers.
There will be less dunking with a lower rim. Except for uncontested shots.
How about a league for men 6’4 and under?
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