“He sucked the last time he unretired.”
“He’s too old to play a full season.”
“He’ll tarnish his legacy.”
“I don’t want my memories ruined.”
“Nobody wants to see a 50-year-old play basketball.”
Michael Jordan turned 50 this past Sunday. That alone was reason enough for every major American sports media outlet to roll out a week of nonstop MJ coverage. As a child of the 90s and a huge Michael Jordan homer, I’d argue MJ turning 50 was reason enough to declare this entire week a national holiday, so we could all celebrate all the joy he has brought to our lives, and perhaps also so we could drink ourselves to sleep every night to help us try to forget how old we’re all getting. But that’s neither here nor there.
The coverage has been incredibly comprehensive, as expected, and overwhelmingly positive, also as expected. But there’s one particular subject that I didn’t really think would get as much scrutiny and attention as it has. Three years ago, during the most memorable, if not the most important, pro sports Hall of Fame induction speech ever given (NBA.com), MJ casually dropped the following:
One day you might look up and see me playing a game at 50. Don’t laugh. Never say never, because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.
Justin Bieber, pay the man his royalties.
On the subject of another Michael Jordan comeback, it seems that most “respected” “journalists” went cafeteria style and chose some formulation of the five quotes at the top of this post. A lil’ bit of Too Old with a side of He Sucked Ten Years Ago, please! How much for some extra Legacy Tarnish? Oh it’s free? Yeah gimme summa that too. It’s not just the journalists, though. Their opinions have been shared (or parroted, if you’re cynical like me) by many others: casual basketball fans, die-hard basketball fans, bloggers, message board posters, current coaches, former coaches, sports radio hosts. There’s about a 50-50 split for and against another comeback, although I will say that the anti-comeback crowd is perhaps slightly bigger (or at least more vocal) than the pro-comeback crowd.
To all of you in the anti-comeback crowd, I say: Shut up. You’re dumb.
When I first decided to write this post I was going to title it, “If You Don’t Want to See a Jordan Comeback, You Must Hate Basketball.” But that wasn’t forceful enough. It was too limiting to capture how I felt on the subject of a possible Jordan comeback because I think that subject goes beyond basketball. Granted, I may have overcorrected with the title I went with, but that’s how I roll. All or nothing. If you ain’t first you’re last. Or something.
At its heart this is a debate over whether MJ would be successful enough during a fourth stint in the NBA to make it worth his while. In my opinion, though, the question is pointless and the answer is a no brainer. In fact, I think that if you don’t want to see a comeback attempt, it has as much to with your own selfishness, your own fears, or your own lack of imagination, as it has to do with a hypothetical stat line.