Michael Jordan was the focus of the Hall Of Fame ceremony on Friday. Makes sense. He was the greatest player of his time. Some would argue of all time. But other great players also were inducted. One was David Robinson.
Robinson was a truly great player. League MVP. Two NBA Championships. Scoring title. Defensive Player of the year. He might have been the focus other years. But Robinson was never AS focused upon as he should have been in his career. And the reason for some, seemed to be he was just too "nice." He was often (shudder) "modest," in a macho sport that deems that as weak or soft.
I could not watch this ceremony and not think about the stark contrast in two speeches. Robinson's lasted about 7 minutes. Jordan's was three times as long. Jordan's was a mixture of touching moments and unnecessary pettiness. He began with tears in his eyes and said he had "too many people to thank" to make it a short speech. But he also thanked no one more often than Michael Jordan.
At a time of celebration Jordan decided to call out people, as if he is still keeping count. As sports writer Adrian Wojnarowski put it, "This wasn’t a Hall of Fame induction speech, but a bully tripping nerds with lunch trays in the school cafeteria."
One instance was his former GM, Jerry Krause.
“Jerry’s not here,” he said. “I don’t know who’d invite him. I didn’t. I hope he understands it goes a long way. He’s a very competitive person. I was a very competitive person. He said organizations win championships. I said, ‘I didn’t see organizations playing with the flu in Utah. I didn’t see it playing with a bad ankle.’
Byron Russell is almost soley remembered for being the man that was guarding Jordan when he hit one of his most famous shots. Russell was good, not great or immortal like Jordan. It seems maybe slighty unfair that he is remembered the way he is. Jordan decided to bring him up and remind the world who was guarding him that play.
“I was in Chicago in 1994 … and at this time I had no thoughts of coming back and playing the game of basketball,” Jordan said. “Bryon Russell came over to me and said, ‘Why’d you quit? You know I could guard you."
“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.’ “
While a decent enough story it was totally misplaced.
As was mentioning that Isiah Thomas, George Gervin (both in the audience) and Magic Johnson froze him out in the 1985 all Star game his rookie season.
Jordan still harping on something that happened 24 years ago.
Some will say this just shows his competitive nature. Its examples of what drove him to be the best ever.
It also shows him as someone who can not quite get over basketabll (By his own admission). Someone who wants the world to know he still could kick your butt and yours and mine and on and on.
We know, Michael.
At that moment, he looked less like Air Jordan and more like someone who has yet to get their priorities straight in life. I hope he finds what he is looking for, beyond basketball.
I know that the speech I would choose to show my nephews, would be David Robinson's.