By George Ferguson
I begin a lot of columns in almost the same fashion. By saying something about my childhood and what it meant to me in relation to sports. This one is no different except for the fact that I can't believe what I'm actually about to write.
As most people know the NBA season has begun, and although I am keenly aware that professional basketball is one of the most popular sports around the world, it just doesn't do it for me any more.
There are about 101 reasons why I really don't get all that excited about NBA basketball anymore, but I am really only going to complain about one:
I know, how can somebody even lodge a complaint about the man at this point? Especially me.
People who know me, also know that MJ is probably my biggest hero of all time. They know that since he sank the shot to beat Georgetown in the 1982 national championship game; I, along with millions of other people have been a devoted fan.
I followed the rest of his college career and his run with the Bulls. He is the reason I became a Chicago Bull fan, and even though I still consider myself a Bull fan to this day, let's face it it's not the same.
In my eyes, Michael Jordan has never done anything wrong with regard to his basketball career. I firmly believe that he is the greatest human being to ever set foot on the hardwood, and I will hold that opinion until somebody else takes that title away. And though I love Jordan dearly, I am not naive. Someday there will be a better player .
At times I was blinded by my love for Jordan. I looked the other way when he attempted to play baseball. I had to constantly defend him to my friends; one who will remain nameless, that said he was a better player than Jordan. Although I still find that statement absurd, I did understand his point. He was trying to say that Jordan could only play in the minor leagues because of who he was and his connections to Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who also owned Chicago White Sox.
I even defended him when the entire world was alerted to his alleged extramarital affairs.
But there is one thing I cannot defend Michael Jordan for his decision to return to play for the Washington Wizards after three years in retirement.
When Jordan announced his come back it didn't excite me this time. It actually left me with a sick feeling in my stomach because unfortunately I knew what was going to happen. And I just didn't want to see what we are seeing now.
To put it bluntly, Michael is struggling. He struggled last season and it's even worse this year because he has resigned himself to be a sixth-man.
Michael Jordan as a sixth-man? You've got to be kidding me.
I watched quite a few Wizard games last year. Despite averaging 24 points per game and playing with a myriad of injuries, any person who follows basketball could see that he had lost some of his game.
Critics of his comeback would agree while those who didn't simply said that, "Michael Jordan at 75% is still better than half the players in the league".
Well, 75% just isn't enough for someone who loves basketball and who truly worships the man.
I don't want to see him on the injured reserve list half the season. I don't want to see him win the Best Sixth-Man Award. I don't like hearing Jordan's effectiveness off the bench compared to Tim Thomas or Shawn Kemp.
The worst is seeing him on Sportscenter getting stuffed by the rim when he attempts to dunk a basketball. It looks like a remake of a Sprite commercial.
To somebody like me those images are more painful than watching an endless stream of Kenny G videos while somebody scrapes their finger nails across a chalk board.
For the first time in my life, my hero looks old. On some levels that's ok. Basketball players get old, heroes retire and there is nothing wrong with that.
But I wanted to watch MJ grow old in an Armani suit as the coach of the Bulls or the North Carolina Tarheels, not in a damn Wizards uniform.
Really, what is he doing this for? Don't be fooled, the Wizards are going nowhere slowly. And they can do that without Jordan coming off the bench for 21 minutes a night.
The rest of my family is going to be disgusted with me. My mom and brother love Jordan unconditionally, almost obsessively. They aren't nearly as critical.
However, I just hope they, and anybody else who loves Jordan can see that this isn't him.
The legacy of Michael Jordan is simply that he is the greatest basketball player that ever dribbled a ball and right now he doesn't look like it.
Unfortunately, people especially young kids will remember him for his latest stint with the Wizards, instead of my fondest memory of the pose that he held in Salt Lake City as he hit the game winning shot to give the Bulls their sixth title.
It was the perfect ending to a perfect career. The best player ever retires after hitting a game-winning shot in the championship. Steven Speilberg couldn't have scripted it any better than that.
Speilberg certainly wouldn't script this. An aging player doing his legacy harm by coming out of retirement to play for a dead-end team. It's sad, depressing and painful to watch.
I'm sorry MJ. You made me love basketball before and you're making me hate it now.