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News » That was one mean speech


That was one mean speech


That was one mean speechAt the beginning of his speech Friday night after being inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, Michael Jordan said he told all his friends he would simply say thank you and sit down, but he couldn't go through with it.

''I can't,'' he said. ''No way.''

Of course, he couldn't. For him, that would be akin to passing up a good look at a potential game-winner to let a teammate take the big shot. A source close to his camp told me he worked on his speech for at least three weeks.

You see, Jordan isn't just perhaps the greatest Basketball player of all time. He's probably the greatest competitor, the greatest showman and the greatest trash-talker ever in any sport.

That's right, any sport.

No one talked more smack, no one did a better job of backing it up better -- and no one did it in a more entertaining fashion.

Some were surprised at the feistiness, aggressiveness and (at times) rudeness of the speech, but, truth be told, he was just being true to his nature.

That's the real Michael Jordan -- not the soft-spoken pitchman from the TV commercials. He holds grudges, he never forgets slights (real or perceived) and he's not satisfied to simply defeat opponents -- he wants to humiliate them.

NICE GUYS FINISH LAST

If you didn't like the speech -- and many people didn't -- consider this:

Those same Jordan characteristics responsible for the speech are the same characteristics behind the Bulls winning six championships in eight years back in the 1990s.

Would you rather he be capable of giving a nice, modest speech, or would you rather have the memories of the six titles? I doubt you could have both.

Jordan certainly was supremely talented and probably would've won multiple titles with a slightly above-average drive for success. But it takes a special tenacity to brush off the trappings of success to come back more determined after winning a championship the previous year.

That's why there are so few repeat champions in sports.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect from Jordan's speech on Friday night, but I can't say I was surprised when he came out throwing haymakers.

On Dean Smith, his college coach, deciding not to include his talented freshman on the Sports Illustrated cover that featured the North Carolina starters in 1981:

''That burned me up because I thought I belonged on that Sports Illustrated. Now, he had his own vision about giving a freshman that exposure, and I totally understand that. But from a Basketball standpoint, I deserved to be on that Sports Illustrated.''

On how the audacity of Utah Jazz Bryon Russell to talk smack in 1994 was a spark to the back-to-back NBA Finals victories over the Jazz:

''At that time, I had no thoughts of coming back to the game of Basketball. Bryon Russell came over to me and said, 'Why'd you quit? You know I can guard you. If I ever see you in a pair of shorts, if I ever see you in a pair of shorts.'''

NO ONE IS SPARED

''So when I did decide to come back in 1995 and we played Utah in 1996, I'm at the center circle and Bryon Russell is next to me, and I looked over to Bryon and said, 'You remember that conversation you made in 1994 when you [said], ''I think I could guard you; I could shut you down; I would love to play against you''? Well, you're about to get your chance.'

''And, believe me, ever since that day, he got his chance. I don't know how [successful] he was, but I think he got his chance. I relished that point and, believe me, from this day forward if I ever see him in shorts, I'm coming at him.''

The nastiest comments were reserved for old foil Jerry Krause. After mocking the Bulls' former general manager for saying organizations win championships, Jordan couldn't resist taking a cheap shot at Krause, who had said he wouldn't be attending the induction because he was keeping his vow of not returning to the Hall as long as former Bulls assistant Tex Winter wasn't enshrined:

''Jerry Krause is not here. I don't know who invited him. I didn't.''

The fact that Jordan maintains his feud with Krause more than 11 years after leaving the Bulls is a testament to his inability to let things go.

It's also why Jordan had to conclude the speech this way:

''Although I'm recognized with this tremendous honor of being in the Basketball Hall of Fame, I don't look at this moment as a defining end to my relationship with the game of Basketball. It's simply a continuation of something I started a long time ago.

''One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50. Oh, don't laugh. Never say never. Because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.''

If he does come back at 50, I'd be surprised -- but not shocked. Someone might tell Jordan he couldn't be an effective player at 50, and he might be stubborn enough to try and prove him wrong.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 15, 2009

 

 
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