Now, in no way am I arguing the fact that Michael Jordan is the greatest player in NBA history, because, well, he is. The point I am trying to make here is that there is a difference between a great player and a great role model. Michael Jordan should be celebrated as the greatest player ever; but, the ‘Like Mike’ mantra is taking it too far.
It seems questionable to me that players with high levels of talent such as an Allen Iverson or a Charles Barkley are shunned openly in today’s media, yet Michael is, and always will be, looked at as the second coming of Jesus Christ. His wrong doings, whether they are on the court or off, are on the same level, if not worse, than the two aforementioned NBA All-Stars.
I am pretty sure that, “Daddy, I want to be just like Ron Artest when I’m older” has only been declared once in the history of this planet and resulted in a slap to the face.
So, why does 30.1 points per game make that statement any different?
In the world of basketball, there is no number greater than twenty-three. Just saying it brings chills down your spine as visions of game winning shots and the most memorable dunks run through your mind.
Wilt Chamberlain once dropped one-hundred, but that’s not twenty-three.
Scott Skiles dished out thirty in a game once, but it isn’t twenty-three.
Even Elmore Smith denied seventeen pitiful shot attempts in one set of forty-eight minutes, but in no way is that comparable to the number twenty-three.
This magical number embodies the heart and soul of every true basketball fan and is the standard at which many live by; however, the time has come to imitate this number in a way that no one has yet to accomplish.
These steps towards greatness that I am about to lay out for you cannot be rivaled, and are the only true way to model your life after the godly number of twenty-three.
Kobe Bryant once tried a process similar to this, yet came out with twenty-four. It is time to see if you can one-up Kobe and attain a feat that no man has been able to match since the great-one himself.
It is time to be ‘Like Mike.’
Now, if you truly want to achieve the closest thing to twenty-three himself, you have to start off your quest young. It is a good idea to begin with getting cut from your high school’s basketball team at an early age. After all, it is proven that the American public just falls in love with sixteen year old failures.
This humiliating lack of success sets up the most coveted tail of redemption, and sets the table for a comeback that would even inspire John Elway. Here is where you get the stage to prove everyone wrong and show that you do belong.
Do you know what this means?
A lot of school.
Who needs chemistry class? Hell, you know twenty-three didn’t. If you can’t determine the difference in importance from your gpa and your ppg, then in no way are you ready to be ‘Like Mike.’ You need to be dropping 50, both on the court and in the class room. Don’t worry, it’ll all pay off in the long run.
It did for twenty-three.
Now that you have become an established basketball player, it is time to shape your character.
On the court, let everyone know you are the real deal. If this means degrading your teammates, then — wait, was I just about to ponder whether or not to degrade your teammates? Who do I think I am?
Certainly not twenty-three.
As once stated by twenty-three himself, teammates are no more than your “supporting cast.” Everyone knows they paid to see you, but your teammates sometimes forget. As the next twenty-three, make sure they do not forget.
And if they keep on forgetting, give them a solid punch to the face. Steve Kerr forgot once. Never again did he make such a silly mistake.
Come on now. You’re twenty-three. He’s not. Lesson learned.
Off the court, let everyone know you are the real deal. If this means degrading the president, then — wait, well, hopefully you are getting the message by now. You’re twenty-three and no one else is.
You have just won an NBA championship and the president (I know, I know. Who?) wants to have you and your “supporting cast” over for dinner. Twenty-three does what he wants.
This means golf. No dinner.
Maybe you’ll show up at one of the many other championship dinners he has planned for you. Or, maybe you won’t. Because, I’m sure that as the next twenty-three you’ll have better things to do, each and every time.
Like committing adultery.
You’re twenty-three, and by now you have to know what that means. You are irresistible. Not even your wife or children should get in your way from you ‘allegedly’ having numerous mistresses, and ‘allegedly’ paying them close to a million dollars to keep it quiet, and ‘allegedly’ fostering a child with one of them.
It is your duty as the next twenty-three to make that happen. Marriage is supposed to be sacred, but to you the only thing that should be sacred is your game — on and off the court.
Now that you are established and people understand that you are legit, it is time to over-market yourself to the point that would even make the New York Yankees proud. Everyone wants a piece of twenty-three, and it is time for you to take advantage of that.
Don’t just stop at basketball products either. You are going to want to have twenty-three written on every product that’s possible to buy. And how can you maximize your profits even more?
It’s time for you as the next twenty-three to realize that everyone else is less fortunate than you. So does it really matter that your products are being made in sweatshops over in South East Asia?
Those workers aren’t worth your time, and in accordance to your newly found greed, who is?
The time will come when a Democratic politician wants you to show up and promote his cause, as was the case with twenty-three himself, but, as did the great one, you must shut him down, because, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”
There isn’t one political issue in the world important enough to hinder your merchandise sales. What was he thinking?
So you have all this money from various contracts, endorsements and bonuses. What do you do with it all? Twenty-three knows what he did with his.
And then gambled.
And when all else failed, he gambled some more.
It is your money, and ‘responsible’ is one word thrown out of twenty-three’s dictionary. You have to strive to be the greatest, no matter the cost. Money is no object when no one makes more than you. Forget the reputation loss, because, well you’re twenty-three, so there will be none.
Now here is the kicker. ‘Allegedly,’ NBA and team officials ask you to take some time off and work on your gambling problems, because well, that reputation loss is something the league, which isn’t twenty-three, has to worry about.
So you man up and rehab your addiction?
No. You’re twenty-three.
You go play baseball.
Albeit, you are not very good at baseball, but you are making money, and even more importantly, you are proving to your “supporting cast” that they require you to win.
You are going to have everyone back in the NBA asking, “Where is 30.1 when you need him?”
No one is able to do what you do, so maybe this time off is better then expected. No punches will need to be thrown and you can come back as beloved as ever. And, in the attempt to feed your greed some more, you can pull a stunt such as changing your jersey number.
Nothing will sell more jerseys, than, well, new jerseys.
You’re forty-five now.
As forty-five, continue to make more money, win more championships, and make more money.
Eventually, return to being twenty-three, and make more money.
You can now leave on your own terms as the greatest player ever to pick up a basketball, but your journey is not over yet. No ma’am.
It is now time to prove that you can take your skills from on the court to up inside an owner’s box. That’s right, you are becoming the part owner of your very own NBA team.
You know twenty-three did. He inherited the number one overall pick in the 2001 NBA draft with the purchase of the Washington Wizards.
Wow, twenty-three with the number one pick and a great pool of rookies just ready to make an impact on your franchise. Your franchise. So, with players such as Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol, Joe Johnson, Tony Parker, Richard Jefferson and Gilbert Arenas at your choosing, you chose Kwame Brown, because you’re twenty-three.
No one does it better.
Kwame James Brown.
Twenty-three’s project. You can only hope to have one more compelling. But you’re twenty-three, and anything is possible.
Kwame James Brown.
You work him all summer, all training camp. He will be ready for this upcoming season in top form. He will be the next twenty-three. He will be twenty-three’s twenty-three.
Kwame James Brown.
What a waste.
Twenty-three knows it. Everyone knows it. But it isn’t twenty-three’s fault. It won’t be your fault. You gave everything to him.
Degrade him to the point of tears. And to think he idolizes you. Well, idolized you. You’ll call him a [expletive deleted] to the media, because well, he isn’t the player you wanted, and never will be. He’s a failure.
You were a failure at one point too, but no one will be able to rise against the way you could. You’re twenty-three. It is time to move on. The next project is waiting for you. Don’t fret too much about the high school kid’s life you just ruined. He obviously had potential, and twenty-three didn’t know what to do with it. Calling him out to the media and making him seem pathetic is the way to go.
No one will think twice about it because you’re twenty-three, and what you say goes. Good job, and after an ‘alleged’ firing and then another comeback shot, you move on and ruin your next franchise and young prospect.
As if Adam Morrison wasn’t tainted enough.
This is what it takes to be ‘Like Mike.’ It may seem easy enough, but I can tell that you do not have what it takes. No one does, so I don’t know what makes you think any differently about yourself. Please, spare yourself the shame and don’t even try. That’s what twenty-three would want. No one will ever be twenty-three, especially not you.
- Dave Hilts