Michael Jordan inducted into Hall of Fame

Vtr_Racing

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Bear in mind this is a journalists version of the speech. It does seem the basketball star used the ceremony as an ax grinding session.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The tears tumbled, flooding his face and Michael Jordan had yet to march to the microphone at Symphony Hall. He had listened to the genuine stories and speeches of a remarkable class. He had watched a “This is Your Life” video compilation of his basketball genius. Everything flashed before him, a legacy that he’s fought with body and soul to never, ever let go into yesterday.

Yes, Michael Jordan was still fighting it on Friday night, and maybe he always will. Mostly, he was crying over the passing of that old Jordan, and it wouldn’t be long until he climbed out of his suit and back into his uniform and shorts, back into an adolescent act that’s turned so tedious.

This wasn’t a Hall of Fame induction speech, but a bully tripping nerds with lunch trays in the school cafeteria. He had a responsibility to his standing in history, to players past and present, and he let everyone down. This was a night to leave behind the petty grievances and past slights – real and imagined. This was a night to be gracious, to be generous with praise and credit.



More NBA Videos More From Adrian WojnarowskiAgainst Jordan, defense never rested Sep 11, 2009 Trail of Crumbs leads Jordan to Hall's doorstep Sep 9, 2009 “M.J. was introduced as the greatest player ever and he’s still standing there trying to settle scores,” one Hall of Famer said privately later.

Jordan didn’t hurt his image with the NBA community, as much as he reminded them of it. “That’s who Michael is,” one high-ranking team executive said. “It wasn’t like he was out of character. There’s no one else who could’ve gotten away with what he did tonight. But it was Michael, and everyone just goes along.”

Jordan wandered through an unfocused and uninspired speech at Symphony Hall, disparaging people who had little to do with his career, like Jeff Van Gundy and Bryon Russell. He ignored people who had so much to do with it, like his personal trainer, Tim Grover. This had been a moving and inspirational night for the NBA – one of its best ceremonies ever – and five minutes into Jordan’s speech it began to spiral into something else. Something unworthy of Jordan’s stature, something beneath him.

Jordan spent more time pointlessly admonishing Van Gundy and Russell for crossing him with taunts a dozen years ago than he did singling out his three children. When he finally acknowledged his family, Jordan blurted, in part, to them, “I wouldn’t want to be you guys.”

Well, um, thanks Dad. He meant it, too. If not the NBA, he should’ve thought of his children before he started spraying fire at everyone.

No one ever feels sorry for Isiah Thomas, but Jordan tsk-tsked him and George Gervin and Magic Johnson for the 1985 All-Star game “freeze-out.” Jordan was a rookie, and the older stars decided to isolate him. It was a long time ago, and he obliterated them all for six NBA championships and five MVP trophies. Isiah and the Ice Man looked stunned, as intimidated 50 feet from the stage, as they might have been on the basketball court.

The cheering and laughter egged Jordan on, but this was no public service for him. Just because he was smiling didn’t mean this speech hadn’t dissolved into a downright vicious volley.

Worst of all, he flew his old high school teammate, Leroy Smith, to Springfield for the induction. Remember, Smith was the upperclassman his coach, Pop Herring, kept on varsity over him as a high school sophomore. He waggled to the old coach, “I wanted to make sure you understood: You made a mistake, dude.”

Whatever, Michael. Everyone gets it. Truth be told, everyone got it years ago, but somehow he thinks this is a cleansing exercise. When basketball wanted to celebrate Jordan as the greatest player ever, wanted to honor him for changing basketball everywhere, he was petty and punitive. Yes, there was some wink-wink teasing with his beloved Dean Smith, but make no mistake: Jordan revealed himself to be strangely bitter. You won, Michael. You won it all. Yet, he keeps chasing something that he’ll never catch, and sometimes, well, it all seems so hollow for him.

This is why he’s a terrible basketball executive because he still hasn’t learned to channel his aggressions into hard work on that job. For the Charlotte Bobcats, Jordan remains an absentee boss who keeps searching for basketball players on fairways and greens.

From the speeches of David Robinson to John Stockton, Jerry Sloan to Vivian Stringer, there was an unmistakable thread of peace of mind and purpose. At times, they were self-deprecating and deflective of praise. Jordan hasn’t mastered that art, and it reveals him to be oddly insecure. When Jordan should’ve thanked the Bulls ex-GM, Jerry Krause, for surrounding him with championship coaches and talent, he ridiculed him. It was me, Jordan was saying. Not him. “The organization didn’t play with the flu in Utah,” Jordan grumbled.

For Jordan to let someone else share in the Bulls’ dynasty will never diminish his greatness. Just enhance it. Only, he’s 46 years old and he still doesn’t get it. Yes, Jordan did gush over Scottie Pippen, but he failed to confess that he had wanted Krause to draft North Carolina’s Joe Wolf. Sometimes, no one is better with a half a story, half a truth, than Jordan. All his life, no one’s ever called him on it.

Whatever Jordan wants to believe, understand this: The reason that Van Gundy’s declaration of him as a “con man” so angered him is because it was true on so many levels.

It was part of his competitiveness edge, part of his marketability, and yes, part of his human frailty.

Jordan wasn’t crying over sentimentality on Friday night, as much as he was the loss of a life that he returned from two retirements to have again. The finality of his basketball genius hit him at the induction ceremony, hit him hard. Jordan showed little poise and less grace.


Once again, he turned the evening into something bordering between vicious and vapid, an empty exercise for a night that should’ve had staying power, that should’ve been transformative for basketball and its greatest player. What fueled his fury as a thirtysomething now fuels his bitterness as a lost, wandering fortysomething who threatened a comeback at 50.


“Don’t laugh,” Michael Jordan warned.


No one’s laughing anymore.


Once and for all, Michael: It’s over.

You won.
 

bajafox

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There is actual discussion about retiring the 23 for good, not just in Chicago but across the NBA
 

nelson979

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i didnt hear the speech at all and and i am/was a huge mj fan. my first kid is named after him. what this guy wrote is probably 100% true. those people that he talked about were what drove him to be the greatest ever to play the game and no kobe isnt even close. it is kinda sad to hear that he cant let it go but i totally understand that. the kinda of drive and intesity that he had is no where near the norm. also they have talked about replacing the jerry west logo with something of mj i couldnt imagine it being anything other than the "jumpman"
 

JoeyD23

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I liked Michael because of his refuse to lose and quit attitude...if anyone wants to compare MJ Memrobilia I am down......LOL

MJ Changed the game check that.....revolutionized the game!!!!!
 

randy s

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jordan was phenominal. but the real magician that really blew peoples minds was doctor j. he did alot of what michael did when michael was a baby. jordan says so himself.
 

Vtr_Racing

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Well, former Laker Byron Russell responds to MJ...
Bryon Russell has a message for Michael Jordan: Whenever you’re ready, I’ll be waiting in California – in my basketball shorts.

“I’ll play his a— right now,” Russell told Yahoo! Sports. “This is a call-out for him to come play me. He can come out here in his private jet and come play. He’s got millions of dollars. He can pay for the jet. He can meet me at the Recreation Center in Calabasas.

“We can have Mark Jackson do the commentating. We can have Mitch Richmond do the officiating. We can put it on TV and see if Michael’s still got it.”

Jordan spent much of his enshrinement speech at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame singling out players and coaches who had slighted, criticized or motivated him. Russell merited a special mention.

After Jordan’s first retirement from the NBA, he was playing minor-league baseball and stopped by the Chicago Bulls’ practice facility, where the Utah Jazz were working out. Jordan said Russell, then a rookie with the Jazz, introduced himself and challenged him.

Other popular Sports StoriesBlog: Serena finally gets apology right Winners and losers from opening NFL weekend More From Marc J. SpearsNBA needs history lesson for its pioneers Sep 14, 2009 Celtics optimistic about Garnett's recovery Sep 10, 2009 “…At this time I had no thoughts of coming back and playing the game of basketball,” Jordan said during his speech. “Bryon Russell came over to me and said, ‘Why’d you quit? You know I could guard you. If I ever see you in a pair of shorts…’

“When I did come back in 1995 and we played Utah in ’96, I’m at the center circle and Bryon Russell is standing next to me. I said, ‘You remember the [comments] you made in 1994 about, ‘I think I can guard you, I can shut you down, I would love to play against you? Well, you’re about to get your chance.’ ”

When the teams met in the ’98 Finals, Jordan hit his famous championship-clinching shot after knocking Russell backward. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan and point guard John Stockton, who also were being inducted, both shook their heads as Jordan told the story.

“From this day forward,” Jordan said, “if I ever see him in shorts, I’m coming at him.”

Russell said Jordan’s story was accurate and that he was honored, not offended, by his words.

“It was during my rookie year,” Russell said. “He turned to Karl [Malone] and said, ‘Hey Karl, is that your rookie?’ I really did say that to him. Karl was laughing and [Jordan] was laughing, too. …I guess I motivated him to come back. There had to be other reasons. You know he likes all challenges.

“Out of all the people he came across, he thought about me. I’m happy to be in his Hall of Fame speech.”

Russell said “not a single day passes” in which someone doesn’t ask him about Jordan’s shot over him. While playing for the Denver Nuggets, Russell and then-Nuggets interim coach Michael Cooper got in a heated debate about whether Jordan’s shot over Russell or Julius Erving’s famous acrobatic dunk over Cooper was more embarrassing. Looking back, Russell said he wasn’t humiliated to be part of such a historic play.

“To me, that’s the greatest play in basketball history,” Russell said. “It will stay that way because he will always be the greatest player to play the game. I didn’t mind. But the referees didn’t make the call on the push off.

“It’s long done and gone. It was a call that wasn’t made on a play that was great.”

Russell didn’t watch the Hall of Fame induction ceremony live because he was running errands with his 11-year-old son, Brandon, in Calabasas, Calif., but he did record it. After Jordan mentioned him, Russell received a voice message from his old Long Beach State coach, Seth Greenberg. Several other friends and family members also called and sent him text messages. As soon as Russell got home, he rushed to the television to watch Jordan.

Jordan and Russell were teammates with the Washington Wizards during the 2002-03 season, Jordan’s last in the NBA. Russell said Jordan never brought up the story while they were together and they never played one-on-one, either. Russell, now 38, last played in the NBA during the 2005-06 season, but he works out daily and is eager to “guard [Jordan] again and beat him.”

Russell encouraged Jordan to get his phone number from a mutual friend if he’s up for the challenge. Until then, he wants Jordan to know this:

“I keep my basketball shorts on.”
 

michael_loomis

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Springfield? Was the writer a local? You know how those Boston fans are! Lol
 

Vtr_Racing

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[video=youtube;1WNE5u1Mf-w]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WNE5u1Mf-w[/video]
 
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