FanDuel - WFBC

September 12, 2009

Jordan's Night to Remember Turns Petty: Anyone expecting a thrilling, motivational, historic trip down memory lane from Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame induction speech instead listened to a bitter ex-star attempt to settle old scores.

posted by dyams to basketball at 08:38 AM - 50 comments

Yikes. I loved Jordan, the player, but if he faded into the sunset as a person, I'd not miss him at all.

posted by dfleming at 08:48 AM on September 12

Always was and always will be a complete douchebag.

posted by The_Special_Juan at 12:04 PM on September 12

This report doesn't do a good job of explaining why Jordan's speech was obnoxious. The stories in the Washington Post and Boston Globe make it more clear.

There are two ways of looking at Jordan's speech. On one hand, it's remarkably ungracious to give the appearance that you are settling old scores by mentioning so many personal slights that bothered you during your athletic career. It makes you look small.

On the other, Jordan enters the Hall of Fame as the greatest basketball player ever, and his speech demonstrates exactly why he achieved that goal. He coupled an immense talent with an exaggerated response to criticism that never let him rest on his accomplishments.

Jordan's career brought him six NBA championships, one NCAA championship and a current net worth of $555 million. The fact that he's still upset by being left off a Sports Illustrated cover in Nov. 30, 1981, says an enormous amount about him.

posted by rcade at 12:33 PM on September 12

On the other, Jordan enters the Hall of Fame as the greatest basketball player ever, and his speech demonstrates exactly why he achieved that goal. He coupled an immense talent with an exaggerated response to criticism that never let him rest on his accomplishments.

Initially watching the speech, that is how I saw it. He want back in history to show how people telling him "no" made him try that much harder. If it weren't for the Van Gundys, Leroy Smiths, and the old pistons & magic stars, he wouldn't have been given reason to drive as hard as he did.

But yea, I can see where people would see his speech as being petty.

posted by jmd82 at 01:05 PM on September 12

I can see, perhaps, that its's difficult for athletes who have had so much acclaim to let go of it and just settle into the role of retirement, and to realize that you can no longer play at the level that you once did. (Many would argue that Brett Favre is at the front end of that road). Too bad he couldn't settle into our collective memories of being a member of the elite class who are considered the greatest ever at their sport, with grace. Hopefully, one day, someone like Tiger Woods can show him how it should have been.

posted by txsoccermom at 02:36 PM on September 12

Adam Kilgore offers a different look at Michael Jordan as seen by his former baseball manager, Terry Francona. Francona saw him as a class act, but an intensely competitive person.

posted by Howard_T at 02:46 PM on September 12

Has there ever been a sportswriter who retired at the top of his game?

posted by rcade at 03:02 PM on September 12

I always hated, but respected, Michael Jordan during his playing days. After reading this, he lost that respect. It's like Isiah all over again, but I didn't hate Isiah when he played...

posted by MeatSaber at 03:16 PM on September 12

Im glad someone already posted this. No class.

posted by firecop at 03:38 PM on September 12

Greatest. Basketball. Player. Ever! Congrats on going into the Hall of Fame, Mike!

posted by BornIcon at 03:52 PM on September 12

Why is it any surprise that Jordan is a pompous douchebag? The competitive spirit and ego he displayed during the speech is why he is being inducted into the Hall as the best ever. Why some people expect these players to roll over and be humble on command is ridiculous.

Hopefully, one day, someone like Tiger Woods can show him how it should have been.

That was a joke, right?

posted by BoKnows at 04:07 PM on September 12

I didn't think it was inappropriate to list his motivators since that was the genesis of his success. However, I had to shake my head when he explained how the players are so much more important than the organization. Even in an individual sport, like say tennis, it's not truly individual - you have coaches, trainers, nutritionists, marketers, promoters, ... - people who allow you to showcase your success. He thanked some of these people but made it completely clear that he thought he was the center of the universe.

posted by sbacharach at 04:14 PM on September 12

Nobody will ever argue with Jordan being the best player ever to play the game. This speech is still a poorly stated rant at an inappropriate time. Whether the guy is a dick, personally, or whatever, this was the time to realize that he's representing the entire sport of basketball and to show some class and dignity. Why he had to come across in this manner, I don't know. Some say it's just his "competitiveness," but I think he's someone who refuses to accept the idea basketball goes on without him. Oh well, Mr. Competitive, the Bobcats are a joke, I don't miss you, and this makes it all the better you're gone. The fact the guy only mentions his family as an afterthought points to the fact he's a self-absorbed, ego-maniac with no class at all. Just because he played well in a game with a ball doesn't make him a decent person in any way, shape or form.

And why is it Jim Brown never tried to make Jordan more of a voice among blacks? Maybe he did, but I don't remember. Maybe Brown found out Jordan was a jerk and said, "Screw him." Actually, I guess Brown did once say that Jordan is "full of shit." Well put.

posted by dyams at 05:21 PM on September 12

Just because he played well in a game with a ball doesn't make him a decent person in any way, shape or form.

Exactly. So why the outrage from some?

posted by BoKnows at 05:26 PM on September 12

Why some people expect these players to roll over and be humble on command is ridiculous.

We expect it because it's the norm. Almost all Hall of Fame induction speeches are gracious. I can't recall one that quite compares with Jordan's.

posted by rcade at 05:32 PM on September 12

Yeah, I happened to catch most of John Stockton's speech and was impressed with how genuinely gracious and down to earth he seems. He spoke individually about each of his children and pointed out each one's strongest personality characteristic and what they bring to the family. It was nice. I'm glad I missed the finale.

posted by cl at 05:50 PM on September 12

The fact that you can be a great (or the greatest) in your sport and a total jerk is why I've always found the whole "hall of fame" concept, and the various controversies surrounding admission and exclusion, fairly tedious. Perhaps Jordan feels the same. And it's not as if he has problems with the Hanes advertising contract portraying him with a giant stick up his rear.

posted by etagloh at 05:57 PM on September 12

We expect it because it's the norm. Almost all Hall of Fame induction speeches are gracious.

Fair enough, but MJ wasn't voted in the Hall based on personality. I just don't think anyone should be surprised when a superstar athlete falls short of grace.

posted by BoKnows at 05:59 PM on September 12

We expect it because it's the norm. Almost all Hall of Fame induction speeches are gracious. I can't recall one that quite compares with Jordan's.

Yeah, that was strange. I'm not sure if he was trying to do something that didn't really work, or if there's still bitterness in him and this was his chance to really let it go. Most superstar athletes hide the underlying anger a little better.

I don't think the fact that he was told NO so much explains everything. I mean, Stockton is a short white guy. I'm sure that's all he ever heard.

posted by justgary at 07:08 PM on September 12

It's just sad (or maybe ridiculous is a better word) that a person who accomplished all that Jordan did in basketball can't figure out (or at least fake) the "gracious" thing.

posted by dyams at 10:24 PM on September 12

Greatest. Basketball. Player. Ever!

Debatable. The man who presented him wasn't too shabby.

Yeah, I happened to catch most of John Stockton's speech and was impressed with how genuinely gracious and down to earth he seems. He spoke individually about each of his children and pointed out each one's strongest personality characteristic and what they bring to the family.

Exactly.

It's just sad (or maybe ridiculous is a better word) that a person who accomplished all that Jordan did in basketball can't figure out (or at least fake) the "gracious" thing.

That says it all.

We all expected better... Michael, your excursions into golf and baseball
exposed you for what you really are, that being a human being. Sorry you didn't notice.

He was great on the floor. He ain't much off it. And I hate sayin' that.

posted by mjkredliner at 10:45 PM on September 12

And his shoe line sucks.

posted by irunfromclones at 02:52 AM on September 13

I don't care about this. I still like Mike. I have seen him in hundreds of McDonald's trick shot commercials with Larry Bird and underwear commercials. My belief in his likability cannot be shaken. He brought us the no-tag undershirt, for God's sake. Show some respect.

I also use his flu game as inspiration to play through any illness.

posted by rcade at 11:19 AM on September 13

He even acts as if he's too good for Charlie Sheen! Snubs the guy in a freakin' parking lot!

posted by dyams at 11:29 AM on September 13

Who isn't too good for Charlie "Disease Ridden" Sheen?

posted by apoch at 11:44 AM on September 13

I also use his flu game as inspiration to play through any illness.

I can't count the number of times that the flu game has gotten me into the office.

posted by bperk at 03:00 PM on September 13

Debatable. The man who presented him wasn't too shabby.

Nothing to debate, the man is arguably the greatest to ever play the game, "gracious" HoF speech or not.

Who the hell really cares what MJ said in his speech? At least he didn't put up a front and attempt to be something he's not. There were 4 other great people that were inducted into the HoF but in all actuality, this was his night and he let it be known that he wanted to thank all of his non-believers for giving him the motivation to become great.

During his playing days he had people that hated him for being so damn good and even being inducted into the Hall, it seems there still are people that hate him for being great.

And his shoe line sucks.

Is that why after 20-odd years, MJ's shoe line is still bringing in millions of dollars and still one of the more popular sneakers availiable? Isn't that an ad for Air Jordans at the top right of this page as well? Interesting.

posted by BornIcon at 03:38 PM on September 13

Nothing to debate, the man is arguably the greatest to ever play the game, "gracious" HoF speech or not.

Of course it's debatable. That's why you had to put arguably in your second sentence. Arguably = debatable.

it seems there still are people that hate him for being great.

Nonsense. I have no real opinion on michael jordan. Say his name and I simply think great basketball player.

I know you tend to give every athlete the benefit of the doubt, but you really should rethink your premise that everyone that criticizes an athlete is hating on him.

posted by justgary at 03:53 PM on September 13

Say his name and I simply think great basketball player.

So you agree that he's a great basketball player, I just happen to think that he's the greatest player to ever lace up a pair of sneakers.

Of course I put arguably in my second sentence but not because I think there's a debate, simply because people will argue who they believe is the greatest. Some will say Chamberlain, others will say Russell or Magic or Bird and the list goes on but IMO, there's only one man that deserves that title and that's Michael Jordan. I never saw Chamberlain or Russell play and I only saw Bird and Magic play towards the ends of their respective careers. Jordan on the otherhand, I can remember watching, pretty much his entire career and saw him win all of his 6 championships. Hell, I even remember his 1st retirement and playing baseball for the Chicago White Sox minor league team, the Birmingham Barons. I never saw Babe Ruth play but he's considered to be the greatest baseball player to ever play the game but that's another story.

I know you tend to give every athlete the benefit of the doubt

You say that like it's a bad thing. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt regardless if that person is an athlete or not since no one is perfect and we all make mistakes, we just don't make those mistakes with the world watching to scrutinize our every move.

...you really should rethink your premise that everyone that criticizes an athlete is hating on him.

I never said everyone, I said "it seems there still are people that hate him for being great". Nothing wrong with a little criticism but when people throw out words like: douchebag, obnoxious, dick or how about mixing it up with pompous douchebag to describe the guy, what would you call it?

If not hate, then why not go with the obvious: "I always hated, but respected, Michael Jordan during his playing days..."

posted by BornIcon at 05:22 PM on September 13

Not to alter the topic or anything but how does MJ compare to Wilt. His career numbers are absolutely amazing. 50 points a game. 100 points in one night. No one has come within 10 points a game average for a season for decades.

Not taking anything away from MJ (his speech did a good job of that) but are we overlooking Wilt because we never saw him on TV like we all saw Jordan?

posted by jc at 05:38 PM on September 13

Some will say Chamberlain, others will say Russell or Magic or Bird and the list goes on but IMO, there's only one man that deserves that title and that's Michael Jordan.

I feel exactly the same way. Whether you like him or not, the man absolutely changed the game. People say no one can be bigger than the game, but guess what.......MJ pulled it off......bigger than the game. People actually watched the game based on whether or not he was playing. Look at the ratings for his comebacks.

As far as his comments, who cares? I never knew him not to be arrogant and cocky. That's how I want to remember him. That's part of what I loved about him. It's his "I'm Michael Jordan and Your Not" attitude that makes him sort of special.

posted by kcfan4life at 05:43 PM on September 13

At least he didn't put up a front and attempt to be something he's not.

True. He's a jerk. That's how he acted, that's how he came across, and that's obviously what he is. And that's not hating on him. He made it a point to come across as a cocky, arrogant, classless SOB, and he succeeded.

He hasn't made this big an ass of himself since he pretended he could play baseball.

posted by dyams at 07:34 PM on September 13

True. He's a jerk. That's how he acted, that's how he came across

And that doesn't take away from him being the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. Sometimes to be great, you have to make sacrifices. That reminds me of a quote made by Rosalynn Carter, "A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be"

that's not hating...He hasn't made this big an ass of himself since he pretended he could play baseball

You're first observation wasn't hating but you're second sentence is absurd. The only thing MJ pretended when he was playing was to pretend that those other teams he murdered in the playoffs actually had a chance.

posted by BornIcon at 07:34 AM on September 14

Did you overlook the word "baseball"?

posted by rcade at 09:11 AM on September 14

My bad, yes I did. Recieved some bad news over the weekend and was trying to keep my mind off things by talking sports and misread that. My apologies.

posted by BornIcon at 09:47 AM on September 14

My recollection during his career was that MJ was known for being (much like Tiger Woods) too plain-vanilla in his comments and not speaking out enough except for trash talking on the court (and what NBA player doesn't do that)?

The fact that he chose David Thompson to introduce him says a lot to me. Thompson went to NC State.

I lived in Chicago from his rookie year through the second retirement and feel really lucky I got to experience that. That said, on a numbers basis and in terms of impact on the game, I still have to give it to Wilt. Jordan was one of the greatest ever, but part of the reason he is considered as such is the he's The Most Famous Ever, which is a reflection of how far Bird and Magic took NBA from being an also-ran to a platform for greatness.

posted by drumdance at 01:30 PM on September 14

And that doesn't take away from him being the greatest basketball player to ever play the game.

Once again, who is arguing that point? Not me. It's just disappointing being a great basketball player doesn't translate into showing some class on what was supposed to be one of the biggest, most memorable (for the right reasons) nights in his professional career.

Why do I get the idea Kanye West is running around sporting a Michael Jordan jersey today?

posted by dyams at 07:11 PM on September 14

I'm not saying that anyone is arguing that point, what I'm saying is, is that no matter what he said during his HoF speech or how he said it, Jordan, IMO is still the greatest basketball player to ever play the game and nothing can ever change that.

Jordan just gave us all a little glimpse of how he really is and how competitive of a person he's always been. Ever read the book 'The Jordan Rules' by Sam Smith? That makes his speech sound pretty tame IMO.

posted by BornIcon at 09:53 PM on September 14

Ever read the book 'The Jordan Rules' by Sam Smith? That makes his speech sound pretty tame IMO.

A book is where classless bullshit like what he spewed for much of his speech belongs, not on the podium when he's being inducted to the Hall of Fame.

Jordan needs to step back and realize he's an aging ex-athlete now. Bringing "competitiveness" to a speech doesn't get too many people pumped except individuals clinging to his past exploits, like Jordan continues to do himself.

posted by dyams at 10:27 PM on September 14

I just don't believe that it (the superstar-diva-ego) can be turned off like a light switch. So Jordan didn't meet your expectations of class. So what. I doubt this will be the last time we are disappointed by an athlete. Do fans need some sort of confirmation that the guy they have been cheering for for years is a "good guy"? There wasn't much question of his personality while winning, why is there now?

Memo to athletes entering the HOF: If you're a jerk, make sure you appease the masses by not being yourself. After all, this is all about the fans, right?

posted by BoKnows at 11:36 PM on September 14

So Jordan didn't meet your expectations of class. So what. I doubt this will be the last time we are disappointed by an athlete. Do fans need some sort of confirmation that the guy they have been cheering for for years is a "good guy"?

I never understand this kind of response when an athlete is the butt of criticism. It assumes that our relationship with a star athlete is entirely emotional and stems from own needs, as if we're all looking for the superstar athlete who will complete us.1

I don't need Jordan to be a heel or a hero. I reacted to his speech because it was interesting to watch him break the Hall of Fame score-settling record and I can't fathom what the hell he was thinking. I'm neither disappointed nor elated at his actions.

1. Katarina Witt completed me during the 1984 Winter Olympics.

posted by rcade at 11:55 PM on September 14

It assumes that our relationship with a star athlete is entirely emotional and stems from own needs, as if we're all looking for the superstar athlete who will complete us.1

Maybe not you, rcade and not me either (and maybe not Drood because he could give a shit). But I've known plenty that live their lives based on the success/failure of an athlete/team.

In this case, our expectations were too high. We were ready for Jordan to give us all a big thank you for everything and instead he rattled off an old checklist of people he felt shunned by. I guess he thought what better place to do that than at the podium during his HOF induction. For us to think it had anything at all to do with what we as fans think of him personally, is foolish.

posted by BoKnows at 12:35 AM on September 15

A book is where classless bullshit like what he spewed for much of his speech belongs, not on the podium when he's being inducted to the Hall of Fame

That wasn't the point that I was making. The book 'The Jordan Rules' was written around the 1992 season and shows a candid view of how Michael Jordan is as a person and was during his playing days. For people to make a big deal out of Jordan's HoF speech, maybe they need to go pick up a copy of that book so they can see an in-depth look at the real Michael Jordan and then tell me what they thought about the speech.

Bringing "competitiveness" to a speech doesn't get too many people pumped except individuals clinging to his past exploits, like Jordan continues to do himself.

Jordan went off the cuff, he had no prepared speech so he just spoke his mind. He spoke about how winning all those titles, Scottie Pippen was always there. How as a kid, he was born into a competitive family and had to deal with not only his older brothers but also his younger sister on a competitive level. He also went on to explain why he was so competitive as a person and a player which is more than what we expected to hear. As Jordan said at the start of his "speech", 'what don't we know about Michael Jordan?'.

This wasn't the ol' tried and true, let-me-pretend-to-be-something-im-not-type of Hall of Fame speech. This was the Michael Jordan that I remember reading about in the book 'The Jordan Rules' and he explained thoroughly as to why he was so cut throat when he was at the top of his game.

posted by BornIcon at 08:08 AM on September 15

Jordan went off the cuff, he had no prepared speech so he just spoke his mind.

He had no prepared speech, yet he thought ahead to fly in the person who made his high school basketball team ahead of him the year he got cut? Something tells me he was prepared.

posted by dyams at 04:50 PM on September 15

For those arguing about whether or not he is the greatest ever, in an espn interview earlier the same day he was inducted, he said that such a comment was unfair & potentially disrespectful to guys like Wilt & a couple others b/c Jordan never had the chance to play against him.

I know this doesn't prove anything by itself; just some food for thought.

posted by brainofdtrain at 09:25 PM on September 15

He had no prepared speech, yet he thought ahead to fly in the person who made his high school basketball team ahead of him the year he got cut? Something tells me he was prepared.

Maybe he had an idea of what he was going to say but when he went up there (from what I've read & heard) MJ spoke his mind. People that actually know MJ, like Michael Wilbon from ESPN's PTI and co-host of the Hall of Fame induction said that for years, people been wanting to see the real Michael Jordan and on Friday night, we all got our wish granted. If people wanted to see a humble individual during their induction speech, they got David Robinson, John Stockton, C. Vivian Stringer and Gregg Popovich for all that. With Jordan, we all got to see the man you always wanted to hear from...and uncensored.

For those arguing about whether or not he is the greatest ever, in an espn interview earlier the same day he was inducted, he said that such a comment was unfair & potentially disrespectful to guys like Wilt & a couple others b/c Jordan never had the chance to play against him

Believe it or not, that was Jordan being humble. It's not up to Jordan to make that clarification as to who is the greatest of all time, the court of public opinion has spoken for years about Jordan being the greatest regardless if he played against the likes of those guys.

Babe Ruth never had an at-bat against Nolan Ryan but Ruth is still considered the greatest baseball player of all time just like Joe Montana never had to evade a Ray Lewis but in some circles, Montana is considered to be the greatest QB to play the game. People are always going to have an opinion but there's more that have seen MJ play and they all share the same sentiment about the man.

Michael Jordan = G.O.A.T.

posted by BornIcon at 09:41 AM on September 16

Babe Ruth never had an at-bat against Nolan Ryan but Ruth is still considered the greatest baseball player of all time

Huh? Not even the greatest Yankee, as far as I'm concerned.

posted by tommytrump at 11:44 AM on September 16

Uhm, who is then?

posted by yerfatma at 03:32 PM on September 16

Mickey Rivers

posted by BornIcon at 03:42 PM on September 16

jordan is who he is. a competitive guy who never forgave a slight, held grudges and it fueled his ascension to the top. he is the G.O.A.T. No one else could've gotten away with that speech, its pettiness, unflattering words, recriminations except for jordan. people knew him as this. for all those looking for the real man, this really was it. if there was anything deeper it was wiped out by years of carrying these grudges. even to his children he can't help but showing ego.

it doesn't change much, his legacy has been seared into memory long ago, long before this decade with the wizards.

of the 4 other guys, he also sounded the least educated in his delivery, style, and language. seems like a guy who got stuck in those yrs and could never grow beyond the game (although to be fair, i doubt the game will grow beyond him).

would've liked to hear him mention his personal trainer and more thoughtful words on phil jackson and some other teammates but they were only his "supporting cast." he owed words to a coddling media whom he never forgave for the gambling allegations (true).

i still love him and part of me growing up will always be loyal to the memory but for those who have not witnessed it firsthand--which is sort of the purpose of these historic look backs and remembrances--he will be poorer for it i think.

posted by besdayz at 12:56 AM on September 19

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