With the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony taking place today, we wanted to give the true diehard fans of the Dime Magazine community an opportunity to write about the 2009 class. Dime reader and Chicago native Jason Oliver, better known to you as “smity far away,” shares his thoughts on Michael Jordan:
*** *** ***
It’s hard to say something about Mike Jordan that hasn’t already been said by much more established and accomplished men. But Mike’s impact and influence on basketball means as much to me as Pac‘s impact on music and Malcolm‘s impact on ethnic empowerment. Find me, a grown man (as evidenced by the early onset of balding) with a ball in an empty gym, still trying reverse lay-ups the way MJ did them. Posting up an imaginary man and then fading away the way MJ would have (or Shep from Above the Rim would have … but that’s another story).
I watch LeBron and think “wow.” I watch Kobe and say, “that boy is bad!” I watch (clips of) Mike and I still get chills. They don’t have to retire his jersey and make the selection of #23 unavailable. BUT, they should hang that Bulls #23 jersey up in every NBA arena as the ultimate exhibit of respect for the man that murdered all of the competition that came his way — if not from Day One, then by the time he had finished his third tour.
Oscar Robertson is the player I wish I’d seen the most. Mike Jordan is the player I wish I’d seen more of. My biggest regret is taking for granted the G.O.A.T.’s presence on my team and not even being in front of a TV when 1998′s Game 6 in Utah happened. I was too busy hoopin’ outside, trying to create some of my own Mike moments and subsequently missing one of his finest. On the playground, we knew what those shots and firecrackers in the air meant, though: Another ‘chip for the greatest city in the world, brought to us by the greatest player in the world.
Back when me and my boy Lamont were too young to go to the cages by ourselves, we played basketball on the front porch steps of my house. I’m dark-skinned, I had the simple low-cut “even all over” (remember having the part in your hair?), and it was my house — so I got to be Jordan. Lamont had a high-top fade and was delegated the role of either Scottie or David Robinson (which he hated, because of how goofy we thought the Admiral was). That was back in the early-90s. In 2009, the age of Kobe, Lebron, Wade and Robert Swift, I guarantee that somewhere out there a couple of young kids are playing basketball, and one or both of them are pretending to be Jordan. Why? Mike’s greatness transcends time and he is as admirable a basketball figurehead today as he was when he played. And I don’t think that the people that remember him as I do will ever allow that to change.
As a fan of the Bulls, I thank Sam Bowie and curse Jerry Krause. As a fan of the game, I thank everybody that came before and inspired him, everybody that came to play and challenged him, and everybody that comes after and honors him. As a fan of Michael Jordan, I thank him for making long shorts, Gatorade and bald heads popular (but I’m not so sure about that pirate earring he used to wear).
Shout-out to those “hand me down” 5s, my low top 13s and my one-size-too-big Jumpman Pros.
Shout-out to Ron Mercer. You should have dunked it.
Shout-out to Big O, Russell, Wilt, Magic and Kareem. I see y’all too. Now, let me go and get my “180 behind-the-back flip” on while the G.O.A.T. gets inducted into the Hall.
– Jason “smity far away” Oliver