It’s been nearly a decade since we’ve seen Michael Jordan competitively lace up those famous sneakers and knock down a jumper, but Michael Jordan is still widely regarded as the greatest to ever play the game. Today, Jordan celebrates his 49th birthday.
It’s a bittersweet number for the aging icon.
Michael Jordan has, perhaps, the most famously combative personality in the history of professional sports. His career was largely fueled by a perception of slight that wasn’t ever as real as Jordan would like to make it seem. Jordan wasn’t really cut from his high school basketball team, and not many have ever TRULY doubted him. However, in the mind of Michael Jordan the notion of being discounted was a driving force.
It’s what made him the greatest of all-time.
Now, at 49, Michael Jordan slips into a phase of his life that seems foreign. It’s not obscurity, because a man with the sort of star-power that Michael Jordan possesses could never be labeled as obscure. However, with his playing days distant on the horizon in his rear-view mirror, that combativeness hasn’t served the aging star nearly as well as it had as a player.
Jordan’s resume as an executive has been largely lackluster, and though you can’t go as far as to say that it’s left a stain on Jordan’s legacy, you can say that it looks out of place compared to his resume as a player.
Next year, when he hits 50, MJ’s odd middle-aged years will probably get odder, and as the space between the present and the past continues to grow, players like LeBron and Kobe will continue to challenge Mike as the greatest of all-time.
But, at the end of the day, we may doubt Michael’s skills as an NBA executive, but very few can doubt Michael’s status as the greatest. So have a happy birthday MJ. Chicago still loves ya.