I was reading the writing of fellow bibliophile Major Styles, whom I learned of several months ago when he found my book review blog, El’s Reading Room. He recently used Michael Jordan as an object lesson on using your disappointments and defeats as stepping stones to success, and I was reminded of the moment that the man who is arguably the greatest basketball player of all time dropped the ball.
Basically, Jordan never got over the *stuff* or the people who disappointed him or doubted him when he was a young player starting out. As his star rose, and his play became legendary, the insecurities and anger of the past never really went away. When the opportunity came, at his induction into the Hall of Fame, to graciously thank those who had helped him along the way, he blew it. Big time:
Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame talk was the Exxon Valdez of speeches. It was, by turns, rude, vindictive and flammable. And that was just when he was trying to be funny. It was tactless, egotistical and unbecoming. When it was done, nobody wanted to be like Mike.
I was reminded of what it looked like from the outside and how the media did the one thing that had to have been like a dagger to Jordan: They compared his petty bombastic departure to the gracious and magnanimous departure of David Robinson. Just like that, he was once again that high school kid who was negatively compared to someone who had played the game better.
I talked with my girls about it yesterday (they were too young in 2009 to even care). They watched the Jordan speech and the Robinson speech as well. The contrast between the two men was clear and a thought was inspired that I thought was worth sharing:
When you are blessed with good fortune and success, in whatever way you are blessed with them, your default position should be humble gratitude. None of us deserve good things. When we remember that, we will also remember that:
Success is most attractive wrapped in magnanimity and is muted if accentuated by petty bitterness.