The Professor

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Alas, Michael Jordan reveals his dark side

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Brad Palmer

Covered sports for 40 years at WGN, WBBM Newradio 78, and WLS-TV (CH 7)

Michael Jordan has enjoyed a larger than life existence around these parts for the better part of 25 years. In my opinion, he was and still is the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. He lifted the sport to new heights and brought years of excitement to Chicago. And because of that, he could do no wrong.

 

Some of us in the media knew otherwise but found ourselves between a rock and a hard place. Basketball fans didn't want to know what they didn't know about MJ. They didn't want to hear anything that would diminish their perception of the legendary figure. When I related some of the stuff I knew and had heard from legitimate sources about MJ to ex-Cub Billy Williams, he said, "Stop, I don't want to hear anymore"

 

It wasn't always like that. During the 1980's, when people would ask me what Michael Jordan was really like, my reply was always, "He's too good to be true." I meant it. It wasn't until the Bulls began winning championships that I saw a different side of Jordan. And since everthing revolved around Jordan, everyone around him was more or less compelled to go with the flow.

 

 All that stuff about "family first" with Michael was a sham. When MJ declined to accompany the team to the White House following one of the championships, it was with the excuse that he had to spend time with his family. Instead, he went to Hilton Head for some high stakes golf. Upon his retirement from the Bulls, he talked about car-pooling for his kids. Even his ex-wife Juanita rolled her eyes on that one.

 

If there's one thing Michael hates worse than losing, its paying when he does lose. A picture with his Airness or a signed basketball is supposed to be compensation enough. I've met numerous caddies who received no tip from Michael. I also watched him play blackjack at The Atlantis in the Bahamas for three hours. He played three hands at a time at $10,000 each and never gave the dealer a thing.

 

Last night, Michael was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. I didn't watch it, but I did come across a story about it on Yahoo. It was an excellent piece by Adrian Wojnarowski. It's a refreshing perspective of Michael brought on by some of the pettiness he spewed during his acceptance speech.

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9 Comments

TTH said:

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MJ's speech could easily come across as petty. But it also showed the competitive spirit that fueled his drive to be the best. That isn't something that can be switched on or off.

And, please, that piece by Wojnarowski is anything but excellent. First off, the use of unnamed sources for quotes. He is going to rag on somebody for being petty, then use the words of people who aren't man enough to take credit for those words as sources? I have often wondered which is the lower form of life, the person who is too gutless to admit to their own words, or the "journalists" who consider such pussies reliable sources.

And any piece of writing that insinuates that Jerry Krause belongs in the Hall of Fame can not be deemed excellent.

Brad Palmer said:

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If you don't like the message, then shoot the messenger. That seems to be the thrust of your comment. People in the public eye don't want to get embroiled in every controversy that comes along, but some are willing to speak "off the record". That goes for people close to Jordan and his ex-teammates. The journalist's job is to deterine how credible and trustworthy the source is.

If journalists couldn't protect their sources a lot of stories would never get written or broken, especially those involving corruption. "Deep Throat", the FBI official who helped bring down the Nixon adminstration, is a classic example.

The Yahoo article most certainly did NOT infer that Jerry Krause belongs in the Hall of Fame. As good as Jordan was, the Bulls didn't start winning championships until Krause acquired the likes of Pippen, Grant, and Cartwright. But his biggest acqusition had to be Phil Jackson. Phil was coaching in the Continental League, and considered something of a hippie by NBA people. But Krause saw something in him the others didn't. He hired him as an assistant to Doug Collins and later made him the head coach. Krause never has received the credit he deserves and probably never will. In part, that's because of his image and personna, but mostly because Jordan and Jackson showed him no respect.

TTH said:

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Actually the thrust of my comment wasn't shoot the messenger, it was consider the source. Someone who is willing to spout off and rip people should be willing to man up to the words. Plain and simple. If he doesn't, that person clearly has some character issues, not to mention a complete lack of balls.
This isn't informant stuff. This isn't life and death. It's basketball. To talk trash only to hide behind the "protect the source" BS comes across as, what's the word I'm looking for? Petty, perhaps?

And you are absolutely right, that article did not infer that JK is a Hall of Famer. I confused it with Wojnarowski's previous article.

http://sports.yahoo.com/nba/expertsarchive;_ylt=ApcAfilr1g0IoFnV6qPItGvTjdIF?author=Adrian+Wojnarowski

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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So then TTH is your real name? Pot meet kettle.

TTH said:

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Nope. My initials, sorry. Tim Hart. There you go.
Are my posts going to be used as some sort of source? I didn't realize that the would, sorry. If so, please use my name. I would never hide from my words. Nor would I want some hack, gossip journalist hide behind the lame "protect my source" excuse either.

Jimmy Greenfield said:

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This is what you wrote:

"Someone who is willing to spout off and rip people should be willing to man up to the words. Plain and simple. If he doesn't, that person clearly has some character issues, not to mention a complete lack of balls."

No, you're not a source but by not using your name in your profile it gives the appearance you're hiding behind your words.

Now, I don't agree with you that unidentified sources are inherently cowards. As Brad mentioned, there are very good reasons why sources stay anonymous. Sometimes reporters rely way too heavily on them and it's certainly within your right as a reader to discount reports based on such sources. But to say that all sources are hiding is to not understand journalism. Without anonymous sources, government would be far more corrupt and the steroids mess, to give one example in sports, would have never been uncovered.

Not sure you if you realize, but I'm the community manager for sports at ChicagoNow and I assure you we respect commenters who choose to remain anoymous. I have no problem with those who do that.

But if you really do believe that "someone who is willing to spout off and rip people should be willing to man up to the words" then you probably ought to fill out your profile and use your real name. Just like Brad and I and many others do here.

TTH said:

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Valid point.I'll try to remember to add a 'signature' to any future posts.

Using Watergate-type examples to justify covering for a guy who trashed talked Jordan because he, well, trashed talked is beyond absurd. And clearly the type of person who would do it, and a writer who would print it are overstating their own importance by throwing out the 'protect the source' card. But I get it, you guys have to stick to your little codes. no matter how trivial the situation is.

Tim Hart

brian said:

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Michael was a superb player, but he also played during an era when traveling and offensive foul calls were pretty lax.

Of course the competitive spirit can be switched off...and of course the spirit of humility can be switched on--it requires a different kind of dedication and effort, but it is possible.

Brad Palmer said:

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Right on, Brian.

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