February 14, 2013

By Kenneth Miller

LAWT Staff Writer


The National Basketball Association’s annual pause for cause, or All Star break will take on a more significant meaning when it is staged in Houston on Sunday Feb. 17 at the Toyota Center.

Traditionally it is a time of the year to celebrate its stars from past and present, reflecting on games gone by during the current season, but also introduce the next highflying dunk king.

It’s a basketball ritual that has unfolded for the past 61 years and is more of an entertainment exhibition than anything else, but the ultimate stars of stars seem to always allow their competitive juices to flow.

The list of those whose rite of passage has been to perform in the NBA All Star game multiple times include a galaxy of stars such as; Kareem Abdul Jabbar (19), Kobe Bryant (15), Kevin Garnett (15), Shaquille O’Neal (15), Tim Duncan (14), Karl Malone (14), Jerry West (14), Wilt Chamberlain (13), Bob Cousy (13), John Havlicek (13), Larry Bird (12), Elvin Hayes (12), Magic Johnson (12), Moses Malone (12), Hakeem Olajuwon (12), Bill Russell (12), Isaiah Thomas (12), Oscar Robinson (12), Charles Barkley (11), Julius Erving (11), Elgin Baylor (11), Julius Erving (11), Paul Pierce (10), John Stockton (10), Clyde Drexler (10), Hal Greer (10), Jason Kidd (10)Dominique Wilkins (9), Dwayne Wade (9) and LeBron James (9).

I could name them all, but why bother when there is only one omission from the aforementioned list whose accomplishments in the game of basketball on and off the court justifiably single him out as the greatest EVER!

He took the slam-dunk contest to an orbit where Julius Erving could not! His half dozen NBA titles elevated the Chicago Bulls to a stratosphere that it will never reach again and meant an estimated $1 trillion to the windy city’s economy during his playing days.

The high flying, leg kicking, tongue wagging, bald baller we affectionately know as MJ, but whose birth name is Michael Jordan will celebrate his 50th birthday on the same day of the NBA All Star Game Feb. 17.

This current generation of hot shot hoopsters may not fully understand the magnitude of the Air Jordan, but millions of Blacks have convinced their parents to pay through the roof to wear his Jordan Brand sneakers produced by Nike.

When Jordan was a rookie in the NBA All Star game veterans such as Isaiah Thomas collectively froze him out and refused to pass him the basketball, but 14 All Star game appearances later he was the MVP in the event three times.

Jordan did his real work when the stakes were at their climax, a 63 point outburst against the Celtics in 1986 prompted Bird to hail him as "God disguised as Michael Jordan."

Lakers great Magic Johnson put it in a more earthly tone; "There's Michael Jordan and then there is the rest of us."

Even to this day his astronomical achievements are bronzed statuettes which are symbolic of a standard left for those behind him to only dream about; Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2009, 2 Olympic gold medals – 1984, 1992, 6-time NBA Champion, 6-time NBA Finals MVP, 5-time NBA MVP, 10 NBA Scoring Titles, 3 time steals leader, 3 time minutes leader, 14 NBA All-Star Selections, 3 time NBA All-Star Game MVP, 11 All-NBA Selections, 9 All-Defensive First Team Selections, 2 time NBA Slam Dunk Contest Champion – 1987, 1988, NBA Rookie of the Year – 1984–85 NBA Defensive Player of the Year – 1987–88.

While Lakers icon Jerry West is the symbol of the NBA uniforms, Jordan’s stamp on the game itself is revolutionary from the bent rim asphalt playgrounds of New York where he was born to the humid indoor courts of Los Angeles and beyond throughout the International hemisphere, Jordan is a in a Space Jam of his own.

The Portland Trailblazers have the dubious distinction of passing over Jordan in the in the 1984 draft in favor of Sam Bowie at senior center from Kentucky, while Houston took Nigerian born Hakeem Olajuwon with the first selection.

The third pick in that draft, Jordan owns the NBA Finals record of averaging 41 points per game in 1993, a career scoring record of 30 points per game, a consecutive game record of 866 games of scoring 10 points or more, a record of 5, 987 points in playoff games and oh by the way he owns the scoring record for NBA All Star games for a career with 262.

The mystery surrounding the bizarre disappearance and murder of his father James in 1993 prompted him to retire from basketball and play professional baseball a passion that he’s had since childhood.

However, many had questions of whether or not his father’s murder had anything to do with gambling debts that Jordan acknowledged he had, but nothing had proven that to be the case.

James Jordan’s body was found floating in a South Carolina creek on Aug. 3.  The cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the chest, a result of robbery.

Jordan, 57, had been missing for three weeks and the family had not filed a missing persons report. Police said that the family did not seem concerned about his absence, and they apparently did not realize that he was missing, since he traveled extensively on business.

Jordan mourned his father by escaping from basketball in 1994 playing for the minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox Birmingham Soul garnering meager stats before returning to the NBA.

After losing in the second round of the playoffs following his return in the 1994-95 season, he returned with a vengeance the following year leading the Bulls to the best record in NBA history going 72-10 and leading Chicago to the first title during their second three-peat.

Jordan played in sold out arenas in practically every game he played in, at home and away. His jersey sets retired in the rafters at both North Carolina and in Chicago where the only statute outside the United Center is one of MJ.

Now, as an owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, the only Black owner in the NBA, Jordan is destined to prove that he can turn around the most hapless franchise in league history.

Worth in excess of $500 million, a proven entrepreneur in business, a father to three grown children and recently engaged, Jordan gave us everything he’s had in the sport of basketball.

He owes us nothing more, but there is something about his ultra competitive drive that leads me to believe that he will not stop until he proves to us he can successfully lead an NBA franchise from the owner’s box.

Whether he does or not, matters least because he has already proven that in the game of basketball he has No Air Apparent!

Category: Sports