The fellows over at The Good Men Project have begun to put together a nice retrospective on the artistry of Michael Jordan. It is well-worth a read, especially for those of us older folks who have very distinct memories of Jordan's earliest exploits. Sometimes our memories fade, and it is good to remember.
To me, the Jordan always represented the apex of what it meant to be the fusion of athlete and competitor. For the first seven to eight years, Jordan was the best athlete. During the last three years, he was the fiercest competitor. The two elements overlapped only for a short time period, showing how small a moment the mountain peak of MJ really was.
You can watch the 10 minute tribute below the fold.
Now, why bring this up, other than to watch some sweet footage of a career gone by? Kevin Durant is not and never will be as athletic as Jordan. He will never be as athletic as someone like LeBron James, or maybe even Serge Ibaka. What he can be, and what his team needs him to be, is the man who has the desire to be the greatest competitor on the court. Once he decides to do that, everything else flows forth.
On a personal note, I watched a lot of Jordan's games with my brother in the 90's, and we owned a few of his old VHS highlight videos. I distinctly remember one time my brother asked me: which highlight video was my favorite?
I answered: None of them, because the next time Jordan plays will be a greater feature of highlights than any video tape you could buy. And the absolute greatest highlights were the games he played right after a poorly played loss, especially against teams like the Pistons or Knicks. Those kinds of games quite literally contained everything you could find in a video compilation, and he was doing it for you real-time.
This is the level that Durant and to a degree Russell Westbrook need to get to - the place where anticipate the transcendant. The places have been set, and the foes are lined up. The time is near for them to force us to consider how they will proceed.