The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame’s 2009 inductees were announced this past Monday. Former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson, Utah Jazz’s ex-point guard John Stockton, Stockton’s old coach, and the current coach of the Jazz, Jerry Sloan will all be inducted this year.
Other inductees include University of Rutgers women’s basketball coach C. Vivian Stringer, and then some guy named Michael Jordan, who apparently played for the Chicago Bulls followed by a later stint with the Washington Wizards.
Now there is something to note about this Jordan fellow; he is the greatest player the sport has ever seen. That little fact has caused some chatter about whether or not “His Airness” should have a separate day all to himself at the Hall of Fame, not to reward him but more to prevent him from overshadowing the other inductees.
There are some who have shot down this idea and think it to be simply ridiculous, but is it really fair to David Robinson or John Stockton, outstanding players in their own right, to be belittled on this day that is supposed to be a celebration for them? Is it fair to Jerry Sloan or C. Vivian Stringer?
What one has to understand is that Jordan wasn’t just the greatest basketball player of all time; he was arguably the most popular too. He was beloved in cities around the country and around the world, by people with no affiliation with Chicago at all.
That just doesn’t happen in sports. David Robinson was a great player, but outside of Spurs fans he wasn’t adored and the same holds true with Stockton. If you look at great athletes in other sports you don’t see what happened with Jordan there either. Wayne Gretzky is the best hockey player the sport has ever had, yet he never had the impact or influence on people anywhere near what Jordan had. Barry Bonds is the home run king in baseball, yet despite holding the most hallowed record in his sport he is despised by most people. Jordan is simply on a whole other level than all other athletes.
Maybe it was the fact that he got cut from his varsity team as a sophomore in high school, or maybe it was his fun-loving nature and extreme passion for the game, or maybe it was just everyone recognizing pure greatness when they saw it, but whatever it was, people loved to root for Jordan. He turned an entire nation into Chicago Bulls fans and every high-flying dunk with his tongue flared out served as a reminder as to why people loved MJ.
His career averages are amazing by themselves; 30.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 2.3 steals, 49.7 percent from the field, and 83.5 percent from the free-throw line. That’s not even taking into account his five MVP awards, 14 All-star appearances (and three All-star game MVP’s), his ten elections to the All-NBA First Team, nine All-Defensive First Team selections, and the six NBA championships that he won that all coincided with NBA Finals MVP honors for Jordan.
However, as staggering as those accolades are, they don’t sum up “Air Jordan.” His fame and greatness transcended to touch so many people and truly cannot be explained.
So again the question arises; is it fair to the other inductees to go into the Hall the same day as Jordan? The answer seems easy, as Jordan is quite simply in a league of his own.