I watched a highlight reel today of Michael Jordan’s career. As I watched those clips I remembered sitting beside my brother on a long vinyl couch in my grandfather’s living room, both of us glued to the TV screen, rooting on the invincible Chicago Bulls.
I remember that moment in the finals when Jordan couldn’t miss a three point shot, when he ran down the court after his sixth in a row, laughing and shaking his head. I remember how much my brother liked that. I remember him mimicking it on the court when he did something impressive himself.
I remember, too, that famous play where Jordan steals the ball, keeps it from going out of bounds with a crazy pass, and then sinks the alley-oop. I can see my brother recreating it, tongue hanging from his wide-open mouth.
Michael Jordan was my brother’s hero. He was everybody’s hero. He did things on the court no one had ever done before. He delighted me, a ten year-old girl with no interest in basketball.
What he could do with a ball—it was magic and art, a graceful, beautiful miracle.
I think Michael Jordan stands as the very first person I ever witnessed doing what he was born to do with excessive, opulent excellence.
And I knew when I watched him that I wanted to be just like him. Yeah, “Be like Mike.”
I didn’t want to be a basketball player. I just wanted to be extraordinary, to do impossible things, to touch the sky.