Mike Wise on Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan wasn't Arthur Ashe or Muhammad Ali. He certainly wasn't Jim Brown. His social and political activism was condensed into one quote, "Republicans buy sneakers, too." He was asked to endorse a Democratic Senate candidate running against Jesse Helms in his home state of North Carolina, and Michael wanted no part of it.

"I wish he would have taken that quote back," Spike Lee told me yesterday. "That's the one thing I wish he would have taken back. I never asked him about it, but I always wondered why he said that."

I would argue Michael didn't have to be political because of those before him. Michael was not about a cause, he was about Michael and the economic empowerment of Michael, being a corporate pitchman that could not offend anybody at anytime because it might cost him endorsement dollars.

Being about Michael included an insatiable desire to win like no one since or before. When he won, his hard-core methods were validated. You could punch Steve Kerr in practice because the end to the means was another shining trophy. When he lost at the end in Washington, verbally attacking Kwame Brown or someone else, he was an old superstar killing the confidence of those around him who expected more from the greatest player ever.

He appeared to have gambling addictions and had more than one dalliance while married, affairs that made him mortal and further tarnished his legend. But what Michael Jordan was really addicted to was conquest -- sucking the life out of another superstar, town and team that could never want it as bad as a kid once cut from the junior varsity. I still remember the moment the Utah Jazz and John Stockton and Karl Malone believed they were heading toward a Game 7 on their home court. Scottie Pippen was awful, Michael's back was going out and I'm certain Utah wins that game.

In 18.7 seconds, the moment it took for him steal the ball from Karl Malone on one end and rise and fire on the other end to win his sixth NBA. title.

Michael, in the end, was not merely about winning; he was about being the winner among a generation of runner-ups.

--Mike Wise

By Alexa Steele |  September 11, 2009; 1:53 PM ET
Previous: Best HOF Quotes From Stockton, Sloan and Robinson | Next: 'There's Not Going to Be Another Michael Jordan'

Comments

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Michael Jordan was the original Barack Obama -- afraid to ever say or do anything worthwhile in case he might offend white people.

Posted by: awb9h | September 11, 2009 2:07 PM

Michael Jordan was the original Barack Obama -- afraid to ever say or do anything worthwhile in case he might offend white people.

Posted by: awb9h | September 11, 2009 2:07 PM


Um, practice assclownery much?

Posted by: RedDMV | September 11, 2009 2:11 PM

I didn't think they were easily offended. I thought that they just don't give a damn.

Posted by: G-Man11 | September 11, 2009 2:16 PM

awb9h: Great point -- as long as you leave out that little matter of Obama's Philadelphia speech on the way to getting elected president, or smacking down the naysayers in Congress the other night. Care to share what have you said or done that you consider worthwhile?

Posted by: walterpearce | September 11, 2009 2:17 PM

Yeah, that whole first black president thing highly overrated....nothing worthwhile about that...

Posted by: jonD1 | September 11, 2009 2:19 PM

I thought he was 1/2 black. Was his Obama's mother black too? If his father is black but his mother is white, why do they call him black?

Posted by: G-Man11 | September 11, 2009 2:23 PM

Please remember the idiocy of comments like the first poster every time someone tries to tell you that the nastiness in American politics today has nothing to do with race.

I always thought it would have been cool if Jordan had played in another era, before cable and the internet helped turn sports into a fishbowl. He was so compelling to watch (in his Chicago days) that I almost wish I never knew about his faults.

Posted by: bryc3 | September 11, 2009 2:23 PM

I prefer to think people have a clue as to what is right and what is wrong.

Posted by: G-Man11 | September 11, 2009 2:27 PM

i meant "don't have a clue"^

Posted by: G-Man11 | September 11, 2009 2:28 PM

just like people who make money off the NBA will not offend Stern by calling out referees who taint games with favoritism, people are afraid to talk about the obvious

Posted by: G-Man11 | September 11, 2009 2:31 PM

This reported got it right. But he's just late. Not only shouldn't he have been asked about indorsing a candidate that was running against a man that had and continued to treat his father, uncles, siblings, etc as second class citizens, but he had one of his own teammates blackballed from the NBA. Why? Because he asked Mike to go to the Southside and talk to the kids that were killing each other for Air Jordans. Mike believes gang memebrs buy Air Jordans too. Would mess up his bottom line. Mike was about one thing....MIKE!
I was a fan of his game, but not of the MAN!

Posted by: malcomxshabazz | September 11, 2009 4:44 PM

"I thought he was 1/2 black. Was his Obama's mother black too? If his father is black but his mother is white, why do they call him black?"

Why don't you ask the generations of White people before now? Don't be silly. Do you think his half-White side would have gotten him into the Whites Only section of the Jim Crow South.

Posted by: BigRich1 | September 11, 2009 4:59 PM

And MJ's approach to politics is reincarnated in Tiger Woods.

Tiger Woods, of asian descent, still happily makes money off the backs of little asian kids who make his shirts, shoes, hats, etc. working 90 hour shifts.

What a guy.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | September 11, 2009 7:01 PM

Got some wackos commenting in here I see.

Jordan was the best athlete I've ever seen in any sport. The will and desire to win like none other. Something you do see in Tiger Woods, but that is lacking in LeBron James for instance. LeBron has been aggrandized since HS and, therefore, will never achieve what he thinks he already has. He lacks the will that Jordan had and has more holes in his game than Jordan ever did like a reliable jump shot.

That being said, Jordan had his faults like everyone else. Gambling really does not bother me as much as his constant philandering. I know someone who did the club, Jordan wants to meet you, back of the limo at 3 in the morning routine. And from what I heard, that was not uncommon in his DC days. Soon thereafter, it hit the news. He was so obvious and public about it that it smacked of pure selfishness and arrogance. But, man, what a basketball player!!!

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 11, 2009 8:45 PM

This is a sports blog, not politics. If you want to talk trash about the President, go post on the National Review's web site.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | September 11, 2009 10:08 PM

The compost is like a leftist cesspool. Unlike closed minded fools like Wise, and the original no talent bum, Spike Lee, MJ, Jackie Robinson, and Tiger Woods are above politics.

Posted by: SMWE357 | September 12, 2009 5:46 AM

Good, completely on point article. Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players in terms of talent and winning. Though, he certainly was not a great role model for the game. He personally changed it from a team sport to a pump your chest, stick your chin out, show boating affair. Jordan was great, and great to watch. Unfortunately, all the subsequent Jordan want-to-bees just make it hard to watch the game anymore...

Posted by: Finn | September 12, 2009 7:26 AM

Most of the comments here really exemplify the real issue in America: STUPIDITY. Everyone wants to abdicate the responsibilty for their own success. Michael Jordan was / is the greatest basketball player EVER - PERIOD! He has inspired more people in more parts of the world than anybody. That's just the truth. But Americans, by and large, have a National Enquirer kind of outlook -- If you can't BE Michael (Jackson/Jordan/Tyson), or Oprah - HATE ON THEM. Yeah, that'll make you feel better. Michael Jordan was not a civil rights leader, and, yes, Republicans do buy shoes, too. Suppose he didn't like the Black candidate, or know anything about him? Why should Michael Jordan ruin his earning potential for some here today, gone tomorrow politician (who, himself, by definition, is a 'self promoter'?) And, oh, by the way - Barack has nothing to do with this. He's ALL BLACK because you biggots stated that clearly with you 'one-drop' rule about 150 or soe years ago - STUPID A$$ Haters!

Posted by: guisher | September 12, 2009 8:08 AM

Great player, lousy human being. Kinda like awb9h, absent the whole "great player" thing.

Posted by: mack1 | September 12, 2009 11:09 AM

A guy could be standing still, Jordan runs over him and the other guy is called for blocking. Jordan takes 6 steps on he way to the basketball and no traveling is called. Jordan was great but the officiating in the NBA is the worst. Veterans/stars get almost every call against rookies and average players. And Jordan benefited more than anyone else. it all serves to make the NBA hard to watch unless there are no huge stars on either team. Then the officiating is more even.

Posted by: TJDemo | September 12, 2009 11:52 AM

Hey awb9h, apparently, you do not mind offending white people as you have done here. Clearly your statements are unencumbered by the thought process. To quote Harry Truman, "How much did you pay for those cheap white sheets?"

Posted by: TJDemo | September 12, 2009 11:56 AM

He has inspired more people in more parts of the world than anybody. That's just the truth.
___

Are you on drugs? Come one. Get a grip on reality. Not only does that distinction certainly not belong to any athlete that is an impossible statement to even quantify. If there was ever an athlete to even be in that discussion it would have to be Muhammed Ali. Jordan, no. Maybe in your slender world.

Posted by: rphilli721 | September 12, 2009 12:05 PM

>>Jordan was great but the officiating in the NBA is the worst.

Um, the NHL would like a word. Let's seeee, what do Jordan's NBA and Sindy's NHL have in common besides laughable officiating?

Posted by: redlineblue | September 12, 2009 12:29 PM

"Michael Jordan was the original Barack Obama -- afraid to ever say or do anything worthwhile in case he might offend white people."

That's a stretch, you could liken Obama to Jordan for his campaigning prowess as he is the best to ever take the stage.

Posted by: eternale5150 | September 12, 2009 5:08 PM

I thought he was 1/2 black. Was his Obama's mother black too? If his father is black but his mother is white, why do they call him black?

Posted by: G-Man11 | September 11, 2009 2:23 PM
------------------------
Oh I see....You consider a black man half black if he is the president but let the same man do something wrong or rob you then the first thing out your mouth is a black man did it. Got it.

Posted by: 6thsense79 | September 12, 2009 8:47 PM

"He's ALL BLACK because you biggots stated that clearly with you 'one-drop' rule about 150 or soe years ago - STUPID A$$ Haters!

Posted by: guisher | September 12, 2009 8:08 AM "

Actually, he's half black and half white....with his momma being white.

During his campaign, he had a commercial where he credited his mom, his uncle, and his grandma for who he is. All 3 were white.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | September 12, 2009 9:39 PM

Maybe Jordan is a Republican. For all we know, he supported Jesse Helms. Why do sportswriters confuse being political with being Democrats?

Posted by: bj2000 | September 13, 2009 8:29 AM

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