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Honoring the great MJ

POSTED September 8, 2009 10:29 p.m.
It’s time to honor Michael Jordan. The greatest basketball player ever will be enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. Even Jordan himself couldn’t tarnish his own legacy as an old man with bad knees in a game that had evolved since he last laced one of his popular Air Jordans.
I have never met Jordan. I probably never will be in the same area code, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t changed by him. He was the greatest; and I was fortunate to live through my teenage years while he was still playing in the NBA during his prime. Even though the Allen Iversons and Kobe Bryants were trying to take over the world.
Jordan meant a lot to the people I went to high school with. We idolized him, just like the millions of other kids all over the world did. We copied his moves on the playground, telling a friend to pretend he’s Byron Russell and taking that game-winning jumpshot only to have our flicked wrist remain in the air forever, basking in our imaginary glory.
For my group of friends, we’d talk about Jordan’s games during lunch or while were strolling to our next class. This was sometimes after we had played in a varsity basketball game the day before. It seemed like even then, we knew what Jordan was doing was a little bit more important.
Some days we’d talk about Jordan as if he was a relative. We’d get in each other faces if a friend disrespected the greatest basketball ever, saying that someone like Iverson wasn’t better. No one was better than Jordan, on or off the court. The impact he made on the world is the reason why basketball is so huge today. The poise he showcased on the court was undeniable; the world always seemed to hush when he released a last-second shot.
He remained great even after he came back from his second retirement, as an older and slower version of himself. He remains the greatest today, just ask local basketball players. The majority of them will probably say Jordan, even though they were too young to remember Jordan at his prime.
We all could relate to Jordan.
Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, a story I refused to believe because someone this great couldn’t experience something so mortal. But it was true, this story of being denied your destiny. Of course, Jordan made the team the following season and eventually signed with North Carolina, where he sank the game-winning shot in the NCAA Championship game as a freshman. He later was the third pick of the NBA Draft. He then became the face of Nike, and took basketball to a whole new galaxy, where kids everywhere wanted to be just like Mike.
So Jordan helped me through a difficult time after I was cut from the freshmen team. It was painful, but I kept on thinking about Jordan that summer, reminding myself that Jordan went through the same thing. After finishing my homework, I was at the basketball court trying to be like Mike — well, as much as I could despite the fact that I was nowhere nearly as gifted as this basketball god.
But at the next basketball tryout, I proved that I couldn’t be denied.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail csun@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.
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