Heart of a Champion
In recreation centers all across America, young aspiring basketball players are trying desperately to “be like Mike. ” Michael Jordan is the greatest sports figure of the National Basketball Association. Every boy, who plays basketball, dreams of achieving the greatness of Jordan. He is considered the greatest player who ever stepped onto a basketball court, Michael Jordan is the measuring stick for all basketball players, and at this time no one has come close to equaling his greatness. From his incredible hang time moves on his way to the basket; to near perfect shooting in critical games,
Jordan has left numerous NBA opponents in shock. Jaws drop and championship dreams are shattered largely as a result of the amazing prime-time efforts of one Michael Jordan. What makes Jordan so great? Is it his awesome jumping ability or the uncanny accuracy of his patented jump shot? As I investigate his unbelievable moves, I am convinced that the success of Jordan comes, not from his lean, muscular legs or his fantastic shooting skills, but from a passion buried deep inside his heart.
Jordan’s greatness comes from an unequaled desire for success, a elentless will that refuses failure, a commitment to excellence that is unparalleled, a belief that a player must do what it takes to win, and a mystique that often has his opponents defeated before the referee tosses up the ball to begin a contest. Although the NBA is filled with players who can run faster, jump higher, and shoot better than him, no player can equal his success on the court. Despite his uncanny ability, Jordan has always possessed a strong desire for perfection.
Phoenix Sun forward Charles Barkley, a superstar in his own right, believes Jordan’s desire is almost supernatural, “I new the moment I looked into his eyes that we were in trouble. Michael was pissed, and when Michael is pissed you can forget it” (interviewed on Above and Beyond video). Jordan’s desire has enabled him to reach a pinnacle that only a select few in the world of sports have attained. He believes that his type of success comes primarily due to desire.
A lack of desire is probably the reason Jordan decided to retire just two days before the start of training camp prior to the 1993-94 season. Jordan, because of the death of his father and feeling he had nothing else to prove, shocked the sports world when he ecided to hang up his “Air Jordans. ” However, Jordan did not retire from sports. Instead he sought to accomplish his father’s dream of a career in baseball. Many people wondered why Jordan risked the chance of humiliation.
Here was a man who was at the top of his game and now he was willing to trade all of his fame and success in basketball for chance at playing Major League Baseball. When Jordan decided to return to basketball many people doubted his chances of equaling the success he had enjoyed before his retirement. Jordan’s doubters, however, did not take nto consideration his commitment to excellence. Jordan learned at a very early age that the price of success was not only very high, but also very available to anyone who was willing to work hard enough.
A commitment like Jordan’s is rare, especially in the face of failure. Many people find it much easier to just give up or to blame someone else for their failure. Michael Jordan seems to thrive on being told that he can’t do a certain thing. Unfortunately, many in today’s society do not have Jordan’s commitment to excellence, but that’s how a lot of eople approach things, and that’s why a lot of people fail. They sound like they’re committed to being the best they can be. They say all the right things, but when it comes down to it, they’re looking for reasons for failing instead of trying to find answers.
The proof of Jordan’s commitment to excellence came about, ironically, because of his failure in the 1995 playoffs. The eighteen month lay-off showed the world a rusty, sometimes worn-out Michael Jordan, and left his many doubters plenty of ammunition for questioning his return. Jordan’s failure to provide a miracle during the 1995 NBA layoffs merely fueled his already relentless attitude toward winning. It is easy to see the relentlessness in Jordan’s face during a game. He appears to be playing the game as though his life depends on it.
As I watched him perform during the 1996 NBA Finals, I was amazed at the intensity within him. Former NBA star Magic Johnson revealed, “Mike’s attitude toward the game is simple. He believes the game is his and anyone who tries to take the game from him will suffer the consequences” (Above and Beyond Video). Anyone who has ever watched Jordan perform on a basketball court cannot help ut see the emotion he emulates. It is my belief that perhaps Jordan’s best contribution to his team is the fact that he seems to make everyone play better.
He is always giving the credit for victory to his teammates and almost always tries to divert any accolades towards him to someone else. He is the ultimate team player. Perhaps his ability to bring the best out of average-at-best teammates, adds to the mystique of Michael Jordan. Whenever I watch him in action, I am amazed at the many miraculous feats he performs on the hardwood. Many NBA players join fans in their marvel at his spectacular play. Jordan has transcended the NBA and the entertainment business. He is the most recognizable athlete in the history of sports.
I imagine, however, that the thoughts of Jordan returning to the NBA sent shivers down the spines of many in the NBA, especially those who have to try and guard him. It is the Jordan mystique that causes fans to spend millions of dollars each year on the Nike shoes and apparel that Jordan endorses. Even though Jordan’s skills are not what they once were, they are still far superior to most players in the NBA. As I watched Jordan and his beloved Bulls capture the 1996 NBA itle, I could not help but realize that this man was more than just a great basketball player with great athletic skills.
He is truly one of the few great American heroes. Very few men are legends in their own time, but Jordan is much bigger than life. Jordan has reached his destiny because of his dedication to what he believes in. Simply put, Jordan is successful because of his refusal to fail. I wonder how many potentially great Americans have quit seeking their dream because of some type of failure. That type of reaction is not a part of Michael Jordan, because there is never any room for quitting inside a Champion’s heart.