Every year basketball prodigies grace headlines “The next MJ.”  For common spectators this slogan is similar to labeling a tech prodigy the next “Bill Gates” or the Buddhist search for the next Dali Lama.  Once these headlines emerge critic’s complain, YouTube views increase, and sponsors get on the phone, while John Calipari and Kelvin Sampson exchange texts with this “kid.”  Attached to this KID who lacks a driver license or ability to rent MATURE video games, is that he’s the next Michael Jordan.  He can’t handle the pressure so the media exposure drops him along with the sacred title.  The cycle repeats.

        Okay the kid has game, so let’s associate his playing style and scoring prowess with the NBA’s greatest scorer.     I’ve seen and heard over thirty different accounts that reach the professional level alone (there are hundreds).  After numerous trial and error seasons of failed prospects it’s on to the next one.  Basketball analyst’s undermine the impact of labeling the next Michael Jordan.   We neglect the consequences and burden placed on these children.  The comparisons to a high school legend are lofty enough (especially if you went to Laney High).  The pressure from communities, friends, and families attest to that of the president.

Dwayne Wade, Lebron James, Vince Carter, Tracy McGrady, Jason Richardson, DeMarr Johnson, Darius Miles, Steve Francis,  Michael Pietrus “French Jordan,” Ben Gordan “Air Gordan,” Jerry Stackhouse, Grant Hill,  Michael Finley, Kobe Bryant.

                                    Total Championships= 8 (Wade 1, Bryant 5, Finley 1)

                                    Jordan Championships= 6

           Lebron James was labeled the next “Mike” at the age of 14.  The decision in 2010 by  “King James” gives testimony to the privileges and popularity of one whose labeled “the next Mike.”  I’m not debating if he’s the next MJ, but  the media has portrayed him as the second-coming.  This same media criticizes him for using the name “King James” but they throned him.  It’s astonishing how in a five-year span, writers mock and criticize the decisions these individuals make.  I understand it’s media, entertainment, and a sport to them, but in reality he’s still a HUMAN.   One individual whose allowed to refute  his statements is hypocrite, sport analyst Skip Bayless, because no one believes him.  Back to the story, Michael Jordan was far from a saint, but people said “Mike it’s fine, just keep winning.”  Winning separates the two by a margin so wide that comparisons piggybacked Kobe Bryant (which is valid).  The current climax of Lebron James career is intriguing, because we’ve expected rings by now and they haven’t arrived.  Micheal could walk on water because of rings, whereas Lebrons walking on egg shell’s til he has some bling.   Assumptions and expectations wrecked Lebron James childhood and still affects his career.

Our era of movies “Hoop Dreams,” “O” and “Basketball Diaries.” depict the damaging aftermath of lofty expectations.  I’ll reference Leonardo Decaprio once on this site, and its today.   He never starred in the awful Michael Jordan movie they produced in early nineties, nor Space Jam.  Actually, this movie held no ties to Michael Jordan or the NBA.  The only association that could be devised is that Basketball Diaries took place in New York, and MJ OWNED Madison Square Garden (Jeremy Lin’s not even close people!). He played the main character Jim in Basketball Diaries the high school basketball star turned drug addict.  The movie begins with shots of him killing it on the court and cameos of basketball games throughout his drug escapades.  Eighty percent of the flick gives light to his addiction to drugs and troubles.  Jim’s journey back to sobriety was through basketball, but it was the same thing that helped lead to his drug-use.  I’m neither stating Michael Jordan’s success or title leads to drug-use, but the expectations of fulfilling a similar career may.  In today’s market we’ve turned this entertaining, fun game into a full-blown succeed or die.  Praising these youngsters with the attention of celebrities can pose long-term detrimental consequences.

I refuse to discuss Jordan’s playing career (I get the chill’s writing about it).  It’s understood the statistical excellence of Michael Jordan’s playing career.  We’re so transfixed on seeing twenty-three, we forget why he’s still relevant today.  It’s because Jordan traded his jersey for a suit and tie.  He retired nine years ago and using the calculations by a Sports Illustrated study this means he has a forty percent chance of NOT losing all  his assets. The Sports Illustrated study distinctly showed 60 PERCENT of professional basketball players filing for bankruptcy in five years after retiring.  Where’s these kid come into play?   We automatically  expect these kids to market themselves correctly and star in that great movie (that’s where Shaq KaZoomed).  Michael Jordan handled his assets correctly (gambling was a passion*), and made wise financial choices. The good ol corridor principle applies to his venture decisions (but really motor bike racing?)

 What 16 year –old can handle these life accolades?

Owner of the Charlotte Bobcat’s (Valued at $278 million dollars)

Owner/Face of the Nike’s Jordan Brand (Valued at $ 1 billion dollars)

Actor in Space Jam (Grossed over $230 million dollars)

Associated to numbers “23” & height “6’6” (The ideal height, he’s the reason why)

Owner of professional motorbike team (Team Jordan)

Voted 20th most powerful celebrity (Forbes)

       Michael Jordan left college after his third collegiate year, not senior year of high school.  No one courted him and he wasn’t a global icon in high school a la Rickey Rubio.  His legacy started from a buzzer-beater in college, not because he dunked in junior high. This brings up the motivational tale of Micheal Jordan getting cut from his high school team meant something for my generation.  Today, kids play on numerous teams, AAU, club, and coaching clinic’s.  The AAU has diluted high school and state play, because of fable AAU national championships.  These kid’s want to play with friends(Welcome to  Miami), rather than their communities.  Do these kids play to get noticed by that college, scout, professional player, or sponsor, maybe.  These kids do love the game, but the celebrity status and thought of your own shoe can corrupt this innocent passion for the game.

A large part of my childhood involved Michael Jordan from the shoes I wore to the sport I played.  Every child requesting the  number twenty-three for their recreational league will continue until that next MJ arrives.   This man altered an industry that few may achieve or we may witness.  I believe everyone writes their own tales, but Micheal Jordan has written so many others.  I don’t hold MJ responsiblity for raising the bar or expectations, but for setting the new standard.  I believe Micheal Jordan had an easy journey, because no Micheal Jordan existed before him.

My MJ guilty pleasures

I embraced each of his jerseys 23, 45, and yes the Wizards one.

I toke a Gatorade shower once, anticipating that it allow me to dunk a basketball.

I considered attending North Carolina because he went there.

I considered  shaving my head to emulate his glossy hair do.

I want to work for the Charlotte Bobcats (because he’d be my boss, Now that’s boss)

When he won his first championship I was born (no joke).


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