B y T o m D a n e h y
SEE THAT GUY over there? That's Michael Jordan. He used to be the greatest player in the NBA and the most popular athlete in America.
See his neck? He has to work extra hard in the weight room on those neck muscles every day just so that big head of his doesn't topple over and squoosh apart on the floor. He used to be cool when he was just going about his game in a quiet, deadly manner. But then he opened his mouth and we found out what a jerk he is. He was much better when he had no discernible personality whatsoever.
Obviously, someone with his skills and accomplishments is going to have an ego. But in the past couple years, he went from quiet and humble to overbearing, boorish and just plain wrong. Maybe his dabbling in Baseball did it. That game'll drive anybody crazy.
First, he tries to ruin the NBA's image by going against the Player's Union and trying to throw the league into labor chaos. He claims the collective bargaining agreement is a bad one for the players and the best thing to do is dissolve the union, go to the courts and cancel the 1995-96 season. He obviously did so because his agent told him to, since agents will be squeezed out of the process under the new agreement.
Jordan tried to claim he was doing what he was doing to "help the little guy," but he couldn't have sold that idea to a drowning man if he'd thrown in a rope, a life raft and three members of Baywatch.
I honestly think he envisioned himself as some sort of Moses leading the other players to The Promised Land. Closer to the truth, he was like the Pied Piper, except all the rats stood around flipping him off behind his back as he went down the path by himself. Oh yeah, stupid-ass Patrick Ewing was dumb enough to follow. 'Course, he went to Georgetown, so you can't expect him to have mad smarts.
The league players voted against Jordan more than 2-1 and the season was saved. Now fans all over North America will be able to boo him on a nightly basis. And his poor agent will have to get by on two or three million a year.
See his mouth? He used to use it to talk a little mess to opponents. Now he opens it all the time and dumb stuff just spills forth.
He told a friend he was going to insist the Bulls change their lineup because he was "tired of playing with a bunch of stiffs." Hey Mike, we watched the games on TV last season. When the Magic stole the ball at two crucial times late in the first game of the playoffs, from which "stiff" did they steal it? Oh wait, that was you.
Which "stiff" shot about 30 percent from the field in that series? Oh wait, that was also you. Which "stiff" was forcing shots left and right and dribbling the ball off his foot? You need to look at the stiff in the mirror.
See his fist? He used to raise it in the air in victory. Who can forget his jumping high and pumping that fist after he made that clutch jumper that forever altered the course of history for his Bulls and the once-ascendant Cleveland Cavaliers?
Nowadays he uses that fist to sucker-punch his teammates in practice. A couple years back he popped Will Purdue in practice because Purdue laid a hard screen on him. Imagine somebody playing hard in practice. Why, that's almost...what?...professional? He tried to explain it away by saying Purdue wouldn't screen opponents that hard in games, so why do it to a teammate in practice. We sorta bought that, but that was back when he wasn't talking that much and we didn't know the extent of his jerkiosis.
But just last week, he sucker-punched former UA All-American Steve Kerr because Kerr was playing tough defense on him in practice. Or maybe it was because Kerr was an outspoken union leader last summer, one whose side was a clear victor over Jordan's.
Whatever the case, we're hoping Jordan doesn't whine to the ownership and have Kerr shipped out. I'm hoping Jordan has enough brain cells left to realize Kerr can really help the Bulls. With Jordan driving to the hole, Kerr could spot up and have a career year this season. Unless he's playing in Vancouver because Jordan can't stand being guarded in practice.
Oh yeah, one last thing. See that bulge in Jordan's back pocket? That's not his wallet. It's Dan Majerle's game. Jordan has been carrying it around since the 1993 playoffs. I'm one of those who is not sorry to see Majerle leave the Phoenix Suns.
I used to be a fan. When he joined the league, he had a great game. Hard-nosed, tough defender, drive to the hole, dunk on people. He was sweet. Then Jordan used him for about 50 a game in the '93 finals. Now Majerle's game stinks worse than a public park bathroom on a hot summer day. After a chili cookoff.
Majerle disappeared in the Houston series both of the past two years and the Rockets went on to win back-to-back NBA titles. I sincerely believe the Suns did the right thing by trading him. He's not a bad player, but he's not a clutch player, either.
Next week, we'll look at the upcoming season and how Damon Stoudamire will be Rookie of the Year, Sean Elliott will be an All-Star again and how the Phoenix Suns will...aw, who am I kidding? The Suns will break my heart one more time.
The NBA season starts tomorrow, meaning, among other things:
The baseball season is finally over. Let us all rejoice. We dislike Baseball enough without having to endure a post-season that stretches all the way to Halloween. And even baseball fans, pathetic lot that they are, deserve better than to have to watch the World Series played in below-freezing weather.
We'll have cool highlights every night on ESPN SportsCenter from now until the summer solstice. And then we'll have the Olympics, and then go right into college football. The baseball players might as well strike again; no one will be watching their sorry butts anyway.
It's probably time for me to go up on the roof and disconnect the swamp cooler. Oops! I think I just committed a copyright infringement against Tom Beal.
| © 1995-97 Tucson Weekly . Info Booth