The Coastal Post - June, 1998

I Wanna Be Like Mike

By Antonio R. Serna

After an athlete has earned the fame and honors that Michael Jordan has, playing for the Chicago Bulls during his entire professional basketball career, it will be very difficult for anyone to match the records that he has established in such a stint.

Michael is not only an outstanding player. He has done something that few players of his caliber have done. He is the embodiment of the Bulls. His team would never have been where they are now were it not for him. He knows this, his coach knows this, the owner of his team, as well as the whole basketball world, knows this, and to top it all, no one among his teammates will dare challenge it. To dramatically prove this, Michael played in the baseball minor league for one year with anticipated disastrous results for the Bulls. Surprisingly, when he returned to play for the Bulls again, he became a bigger hero and a sweeter darling to his fans. As a consequence, a more frenzied activity was immediately apparent on the part of all who stood to gain by elevating Michael's popularity to even loftier heights than it ever was. Everybody could be seen bending backwards to let the returned darling of the world break more records and develop more fans. They felt that besides the obvious benefits offered in lining their pockets with the "I wanna be like Mike" generated mania, it is good for the NBA, good for the products Michael endorses, probably good for basketball, and above all, good for all who have anything to do with Michael Jordan. As the old philosopher says, "money begets money" and Michael Jordan is the best proof of it.

The latest estimates indicate that Michael Jordan is earning more than $200,000 a day from his collective income, comprising of his salary, royalties, endorsement fees and the numerous lucrative business ventures and investments that he has on the side. When one reaches these dizzying heights of money production in a capitalist world such as ours, one can do nothing wrong. As an entrepreneur, Michael is proving to be more successful than he is as an athlete and anything that he touches turns into gold. Understandably, those who are around him will obviously try their best to be touched by him as well.

So congratulations, Michael Jordan. You are indeed the "greatest." But when you really want to be honest to yourself, I am certain that you will admit that not all your glories are attributable to your inherent playing skills. Most are the result of your uncanny ability to make money for those who are smart enough to hang onto your coat-tails. There are currently some young players who have better talents than you, but they will never get even close to your "greatness" when one considers the concealed nuances of being a super star like yourself.

This is all great, but let this humble writer give you a piece of friendly advice. Don't push your fortunes too far. Call it quits while you are ahead in the eyes of your fans. Your memory will last longer when you purposely step down while you're on the top. Give basketball back to the young kids who like you, once upon a time still have a fresh outlook of the game and are vigorously pursuing their promising careers entirely on the basis of their inherent talents and their love for it.

Ironically, as it may seem, your overstaying "greatness" is beginning to hurt, rather than enhance, your beloved game. You have earned enough honors and money. And it is time to pass on the baton, if you please. Don't let success intoxicate you. There are better things in life than routinely breaking basketball records and making tons of money. A gifted guy like you may want to make a mark in other, more meaningful endeavors. You are in an enviable position to do what others can only dream of. Let your world acclaim and popularity work in favor of the less fortunate in this world rather than get harnessed by multi-millionaires like yourself, who are using you to make more profits at the expense of some deprived and exploited third world country youngsters. Channel instead your immense energy and resources to more charitable undertakings, and I do no meant the kind of tax deductible contributions that you are so familiar with. Show the world that Michael Jordan is not only a great athlete, but more importantly, a special person, who was endowed by God the talent, the energy and the heart, to serve mankind in a way that very few mortals are given the opportunity and ability to.

I am certain that when you do this, the publicity jingle that your publicists have so effectively popularized, will have a new message to impart. The now-familiar refrain, "I wanna be like Mike-I wanna be like Mike," will no longer serve to encourage kids to feed into the propaganda of patronizing the products that Mike, the great commercial pied piper, endorses, but will chant it in recognition of Mike's greatness as a person and his unselfish service to humanity which they are all proud to emulate.

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