The Last Dance

bosockboy

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It also is mystifying to me that Jordan has zero cache in getting players to come play for him. He can’t recruit star players, maybe that’s only the geography but it’s still weird. He couldn’t even keep Kemba from bolting to the C’s.
 

BigSoxFan

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It also is mystifying to me that Jordan has zero cache in getting players to come play for him. He can’t recruit star players, maybe that’s only the geography but it’s still weird. He couldn’t even keep Kemba from bolting to the C’s.
I’ve also found it weird that a guy with his maniacal drive on the court is perfect ok with being completely awful off of it.
 

bankshot1

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A couple of things struck me last night, the first was when Jordan said he didn't have a gambling problem but a problem with his competitvness. And the observations from some of his former teammates/ rivals about his wanting not just to beat them but to crush them.
The guy needed to be lead dog.

And he seemed to carry grudges a long time.

And for a guy so successful in so many ways, he didn't seem very happy.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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I’ve also found it weird that a guy with his maniacal drive on the court is perfect ok with being completely awful off of it.
I don't know if he's ok with it, so much as he has enough of an ego that he wouldn't want to hire someone that will overshadow him even if it were to make his team more successful. If Pat Riley somehow became available, would Michael hire him as team president? It would almost certainly mean getting the team on the right track, but I can't see Jordan doing it.
 

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It also is mystifying to me that Jordan has zero cache in getting players to come play for him. He can’t recruit star players, maybe that’s only the geography but it’s still weird. He couldn’t even keep Kemba from bolting to the C’s.
It's a poorly run team that never wins. Why did Kyrie and KD go to Brooklyn and not the Knicks?
 

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I don't know if he's ok with it, so much as he has enough of an ego that he wouldn't want to hire someone that will overshadow him even if it were to make his team more successful. If Pat Riley somehow became available, would Michael hire him as team president? It would almost certainly mean getting the team on the right track, but I can't see Jordan doing it.
I dunno. The ego argument is a cop out to me. You almost literally can’t do a worse job than he’s done. Larry has the same drive and killed it. I just think he really sucks at management and is fortunate the media won’t ever call him out on it.
 

canderson

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Do you think there is one specific individual from Adidas that wakes up everyday in a cold sweat? Nike hoping to sell $4M of sneakers by year 4 only to end up selling $125M in year 1 is astounding. He's been paid over $1B from Nike in his career.

My 14 year old said he would binge when it was over as he kept walking through and watching small bits. I told him it would be hard to comprehend the type of celebrity that MJ was back in the day (which the clips of him emerging from his hotel room showed well). People literally just gasping when they saw him. He asked me who would be comparable today and I really couldn't come up with an answer. With social media, fans seem to have much more insight into celebrities now than we ever did back then.
Ronaldo comes to mind today. I can’t think of an American athlete that can touch his popularity.
 

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A couple of things struck me last night, the first was when Jordan said he didn't have a gambling problem but a problem with his competitvness. And the observations from some of his former teammates/ rivals about his wanting not just to beat them but to crush them.
The guy needed to be lead dog.

And he seemed to carry grudges a long time.

And for a guy so successful in so many ways, he didn't seem very happy.
The fascinating thing for me is how people like Jordan and Kelly Slater (eleven world championships) were so competitive that it came before personal relationships.

There is a surfing documentary on HBO called "The Momentum Generation" which depicts Slater as widely respected by his friend/peer group, much like Jordan, but its clear that his insatiable desire to win at all costs caused friction with those around him.

Jordan is no different - its clear he is respected but the subtext of this series, for me at least, is that it cost him in terms of personal relationships.

The one other thing I take away from Jordan - and I think its worthy of some respect - is that he is unapologetic about his behavior. I find that somewhat refreshing but I get how it may rub others the wrong way.
 

Kliq

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The fascinating thing for me is how people like Jordan and Kelly Slater (eleven world championships) were so competitive that it came before personal relationships.

There is a surfing documentary on HBO called "The Momentum Generation" which depicts Slater as widely respected by his friend/peer group, much like Jordan, but its clear that his insatiable desire to win at all costs caused friction with those around him.

Jordan is no different - its clear he is respected but the subtext of this series, for me at least, is that it cost him in terms of personal relationships.

The one other thing I take away from Jordan - and I think its worthy of some respect - is that he is unapologetic about his behavior. I find that somewhat refreshing but I get how it may rub others the wrong way.
I've only seen bits and pieces of the first two episodes, but what separates Jordan mentally from almost any other NBA player is that Jordan is obsessed with winning. Most NBA players will say how much they want to win, but what they really mean is that they want to win championships. Jordan didn't just want to win titles, he wanted to win every single thing he has ever tried to do. A guy like LeBron, who has done everything imaginable to try and win championships, doesn't have that same kind of crazy streak. His last three seasons in Chicago, he played 82 games every season. The stories about him coming up with some tiny contrivance to motivate himself to get up to beat the Bullets in January is unnatural, even by NBA standards.

In the modern era, teams are smarter and they understand that the regular season doesn't matter that much. Load management has become a thing of course, but there were even times during the Warriors run that they would have everyone playing, and they would just kind of check out and fold during the regular season, because they understood the long game and knew that they could afford to coast during most of the regular season. I'm sure that deep down, Jordan understood that too, that not every game was life or death and that if the Bulls lost to the Bullets in January it didn't matter, but he just couldn't bring himself to let that happen.
 

67YAZ

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The fascinating thing for me is how people like Jordan and Kelly Slater (eleven world championships) were so competitive that it came before personal relationships.

There is a surfing documentary on HBO called "The Momentum Generation" which depicts Slater as widely respected by his friend/peer group, much like Jordan, but its clear that his insatiable desire to win at all costs caused friction with those around him.

Jordan is no different - its clear he is respected but the subtext of this series, for me at least, is that it cost him in terms of personal relationships.

The one other thing I take away from Jordan - and I think its worthy of some respect - is that he is unapologetic about his behavior. I find that somewhat refreshing but I get how it may rub others the wrong way.
It’s in the little moments like when Ewing comes into the locker room after Jordan’s last game at MSG.Jordan quickly pokes at Ewing about the NCAA championship 16 years after the fact. And Ewing just gives a resigned, practiced “Don’t start that shit.” MJ is an all-time dick.

Edit: that moment and making fun of Krause for being short in the middle of a championship celebration. My god. Jerry may have been short, but he never traded for DaSagana Diop.
 
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bosockboy

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I’d argue Tiger is actually bigger. No slight on MJ but Tiger winning the Masters was the ‘68 Comeback Special of this generation. He’s Elvis of sports.
 

McBride11

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Athletic did an article on our (my) favorite security guy. Died from colon cancer apparently.


‘John Michael Wozniak was a decorated Chicago narcotics officer who worked security at the old Chicago Stadium. Jordan developed an affinity for him early in his career when, while parking Jordan’s SUV, Wozniak accidentally shattered the back windshield after failing to account for the spare tire hanging on the vehicle’s rear. (Nicholi retweeted an anecdote describing the car in question as a Ford Bronco, although he says his dad told him it was a Chevy Blazer.)

Wozniak apologized to Jordan for the damage, telling him that he had a newborn (Nicholi) at home but would pay for the repairs upon receiving his next paycheck. Jordan appreciated the honesty and made special requests for Wozniak’s presence afterward.’


Michael Jordan’s bodyguard John Michael Wozniak was a true Chicago character
https://theathletic.com/1792257/2020/05/04/michael-jordans-bodyguard-john-michael-wozniak-was-a-true-chicago-character/?source=user_shared_article
 

InstaFace

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The one other thing I take away from Jordan - and I think its worthy of some respect - is that he is unapologetic about his behavior. I find that somewhat refreshing but I get how it may rub others the wrong way.
He is very genuine, there is no doubt as to where he stands or what he stands for, no pretense to him. I loved the quotes about not getting involved in politics or being an activist, because that's just not what he could muster energy towards, it wouldn't have been true to who he was and is. Everyone has an idea in their minds of what he should be, but he's not changing for the sake of others - if what he does doesn't inspire you, "then maybe I'm not the guy you should be following". That's honesty, that's a guy who has no use for artifice. Try to imagine Tom Brady saying that.

One of my favorite aspects about this documentary - which has become absolute appointment viewing for me, and that never happens - is the clarity with which they present the double-edged-sword nature of Jordan's competitiveness, the price he pays and makes everyone else pay for the success it brings. The filmmakers are brutally honest about the impact it has on his relations with teammates, the league, Krause, the media, his gambling... and also the winning. Were it a story told by the Greeks, you'd expect it to have a tragic ending. Maybe his Hornets ownership *is* the tragic ending.
 

bankshot1

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MJ might be genuine today, or when he ruled the courts in the mid-90s, as he could afford it. and had the freedom to tell anyone to F off. But I'm not sure in 1990, pre-championships, his demurring from publicly endorsing Gantt (which was his absolute right) was genuine (he did cut Gantt a check) as it was about protecting his still growing brand. I think it was a business decision. it might have been smart, but I do not assign a lot of nobilitiy to it.

Ali was principled and noble. He didn't sell many sneakers though. And he paid a price for principle.

I don't know about the Greeks, but Orson Wells, might end it with Jordan whispering "Isiah" as a Dream Team photo burns in the fireplace.
 
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reggiecleveland

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I dunno. The ego argument is a cop out to me. You almost literally can’t do a worse job than he’s done. Larry has the same drive and killed it. I just think he really sucks at management and is fortunate the media won’t ever call him out on it.
The ego is probably the weakness. I doubt he can realiastically see how much help he needs, or what skills he is missing.

At times coaching can be really close to playing, but running a program is so different.
I am an old school, intense coach, and I am pretty confident I can make any bad team decent, or decent team good. You can bring energy, intensity to a team that doesn't compete, play hard and transform them with similar energy as playing. But, going beyond that requires different thinking. Jordan just does not seem to be able to make that adjustment. Even when he tried to coach he ended up playing because all he knew was crushing people.Talent identification is really hard. Even now in my years of experience, I find evaluating guards from film, scouting really hard. Unless they play head to head I am lost. I may be wrong, but I don't see Jordan saying to himself, "I may be the only GM that makes every "top ten draft busts list' two times, I should maybe let my scouts handle the draft."
 

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The ego is probably the weakness. I doubt he can realiastically see how much help he needs, or what skills he is missing.

At times coaching can be really close to playing, but running a program is so different.
I am an old school, intense coach, and I am pretty confident I can make any bad team decent, or decent team good. You can bring energy, intensity to a team that doesn't compete, play hard and transform them with similar energy as playing. But, going beyond that requires different thinking. Jordan just does not seem to be able to make that adjustment. Even when he tried to coach he ended up playing because all he knew was crushing people.Talent identification is really hard. Even now in my years of experience, I find evaluating guards from film, scouting really hard. Unless they play head to head I am lost. I may be wrong, but I don't see Jordan saying to himself, "I may be the only GM that makes every "top ten draft busts list' two times, I should maybe let my scouts handle the draft."
I think there is certainly some of this with MJ. As you note, playing and being GM require such different skill sets. Of all the star NBA players, who has really excelled as an exec? Jerry West? Bird as President? Ainge was a solid player but not a star. Sure I’m missing someone but would be an interesting study to see why guys like MJ, Isiah, Magic all sucked so badly at it. Could be as simple as it’s just really hard so the odds of failure are quite high.
 

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I’d argue Tiger is actually bigger. No slight on MJ but Tiger winning the Masters was the ‘68 Comeback Special of this generation. He’s Elvis of sports.
Not if you don’t care about Golf.

NBA Basketball in the 1990s was the most popular sport, maybe, on the planet, and Jordan was by far the biggest star.
All of Jordan’s finals averaged more than 20 Million viewers per game. The 1998 NBA finals averaged 29 Million (!) viewers per game.

The highest rated golf tournament was the 1997 Masters, just squeaking over 20 Million, which was the height of Tiger mania and a bit of an anomaly, ratings wise. Since 2010, the average viewership for the Masters has been around 8 Million. Tiger is hugely famous but he is not Michael Jordan, circa 1998 famous.
 

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Not if you don’t care about Golf.

NBA Basketball in the 1990s was the most popular sport, maybe, on the planet, and Jordan was by far the biggest star.
All of Jordan’s finals averaged more than 20 Million viewers per game. The 1998 NBA finals averaged 29 Million (!) viewers per game.

The highest rated golf tournament was the 1997 Masters, just squeaking over 20 Million, which was the height of Tiger mania and a bit of an anomaly, ratings wise. Since 2010, the average viewership for the Masters has been around 8 Million. Tiger is hugely famous but he is not Michael Jordan, circa 1998 famous.
Yeah if we're searching for a comparison to explain to a young kid, we're going outside the world of sports... to people like Barack Obama, the Pope, Taylor Swift, maybe Lady Gaga. The idea of crowds of people waiting around, for maybe hours, to catch a brief glimpse of someone, and then nearly fainting when they do... you don't get that too often these days.
 

Leather

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Yeah if we're searching for a comparison to explain to a young kid, we're going outside the world of sports... to people like Barack Obama, the Pope, Taylor Swift, maybe Lady Gaga. The idea of crowds of people waiting around, for maybe hours, to catch a brief glimpse of someone, and then nearly fainting when they do... you don't get that too often these days.
Jordan was the Micheal Jackson of sports. There were obviously plenty of famous athletes before Jordan, but he was just the right guy, at the right time, to transcend everybody that came before him. Like, yeah, Joe DiMaggio was absurdly famous, but probably not among African Americans, much less people in China.

Muhammad Ali probably comes closest to Jordan's level of fame, but I can't really think of anyone else. And today, not sure there's anybody who's 2/3 as well known as Jordan. Like my mother was never a basketball fan, but she could for sure pick Jordan out of a lineup. Not sure that's the case for LeBron.
 
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InstaFace

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Jordan was the Micheal Jackson of sports.
Would a 14-year-old today have a sense for that?

I think fangirling, as an industry, has been a decades-long slide at this point. How many celebrities today would flat-out stop a room, any room, when they enter? I honestly don't think Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo come close. Our zeitgeist is very diffuse right now.
 

Kliq

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I think there is certainly some of this with MJ. As you note, playing and being GM require such different skill sets. Of all the star NBA players, who has really excelled as an exec? Jerry West? Bird as President? Ainge was a solid player but not a star. Sure I’m missing someone but would be an interesting study to see why guys like MJ, Isiah, Magic all sucked so badly at it. Could be as simple as it’s just really hard so the odds of failure are quite high.
Dumars is a HoF player that built a long, successful team in Detroit.

Players often suck at being in the front office because it requires a set of skills that often don't apply to being a good basketball player. However, if they are a legendary player they have name value and cache with ownership and fans, that make them an attractive hire. It is very, very hard to be a good basketball executive, very few people are ever really successful at it.
 

bosockboy

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Would a 14-year-old today have a sense for that?

I think fangirling, as an industry, has been a decades-long slide at this point. How many celebrities today would flat-out stop a room, any room, when they enter? I honestly don't think Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo come close. Our zeitgeist is very diffuse right now.
Probably a Royal like Prince William or Harry. And Tiger. But it’s definitely a thing of the past.
 

Kliq

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Would a 14-year-old today have a sense for that?

I think fangirling, as an industry, has been a decades-long slide at this point. How many celebrities today would flat-out stop a room, any room, when they enter? I honestly don't think Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo come close. Our zeitgeist is very diffuse right now.

This is a half-ass theory but hear me out.

A huge part of Jordan's massive fame, in relation to his peers, is timing. Historically, it is unlikely people in the future will maintain a level of celebrity that people in the past were able to reach. Technology has granted access to so much diversity in our pop culture that the fame of one individual is more limited. Take TV stars for example, television pre-cable and even well into the 90s was less homogeneous than it is today. If you were a star on a big network television show in the 80s, it was not uncommon for you to be watched by like, 40 million viewers. Only the Super Bowl would hit that number today, and we have a lot more TVs and a lot more people than in 80s. Today you might get like, 10 million people on a good night. There are infinite more options, so the individual TV stars are less prominent.

The same can be said for music, which might be even more of a dramatic example because it went from being a medium almost wholly dependent on local DJs playing a record, to being able to listen to any recorded music at almost any moment. It is extremely unlikely we will see another musician become as popular as The Beatles, Elvis or Michael Jackson because the way people consume music is so different.

At the same time, we as a culture have become more obsessed with celebrities as time goes by. In 2020, Americans are probably more interested in celebrities than at any other time in history. That would make you think the celebrities of today are bigger stars than celebrities of the past, but what we have is simply more celebrities, more athletes, more musicians, more actors, etc. The pond becomes larger and the big fish are less apt to stand out.

What does this have to do with Jordan? Jordan, as a standout athlete coming along in the 90s gives him an edge because he rose to fame in the perfect sweetspot for an individual to dominant the pop culture zeitgeist, without being drowned out by a million other voices. Jordan was able to sell his brand long before the days of social media, and his work as a company pitchman with commercials that ran endlessly on cable television, and his craft referenced and cherished in hip hop and more experimental music that wouldn't have existed in prior eras, made him a massive star. However, he didn't have the internet and other competing factors that later superstars would have to contend with. Michael Jackson is an apt comparison, since they came along at the same time and have similar "We will never see someone be this famous again" auras.

TL;DR, the 90s were the perfect time for someone to become a massive star because society was modernized enough for celebrity culture to explode but social media hadn't come along to drown everything out.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Would a 14-year-old today have a sense for that?

I think fangirling, as an industry, has been a decades-long slide at this point. How many celebrities today would flat-out stop a room, any room, when they enter? I honestly don't think Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo come close. Our zeitgeist is very diffuse right now.
Not to nitpick, but would a 14-year old today have a sense for the Pope? Or even Obama? My wife is 32 and while not a huge sports fan, she can hold her own. Trying to explain Jordan to her these last few Sundays has been pretty much impossible.
 

BigSoxFan

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Dumars is a HoF player that built a long, successful team in Detroit.

Players often suck at being in the front office because it requires a set of skills that often don't apply to being a good basketball player. However, if they are a legendary player they have name value and cache with ownership and fans, that make them an attractive hire. It is very, very hard to be a good basketball executive, very few people are ever really successful at it.
Ah, Dumars. I knew I was forgetting someone noteworthy. Definitely a big success although I believe he also Darko’d a draft.
 

djbayko

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This is a half-ass theory but hear me out.

A huge part of Jordan's massive fame, in relation to his peers, is timing. Historically, it is unlikely people in the future will maintain a level of celebrity that people in the past were able to reach. Technology has granted access to so much diversity in our pop culture that the fame of one individual is more limited. Take TV stars for example, television pre-cable and even well into the 90s was less homogeneous than it is today. If you were a star on a big network television show in the 80s, it was not uncommon for you to be watched by like, 40 million viewers. Only the Super Bowl would hit that number today, and we have a lot more TVs and a lot more people than in 80s. Today you might get like, 10 million people on a good night. There are infinite more options, so the individual TV stars are less prominent.

The same can be said for music, which might be even more of a dramatic example because it went from being a medium almost wholly dependent on local DJs playing a record, to being able to listen to any recorded music at almost any moment. It is extremely unlikely we will see another musician become as popular as The Beatles, Elvis or Michael Jackson because the way people consume music is so different.

At the same time, we as a culture have become more obsessed with celebrities as time goes by. In 2020, Americans are probably more interested in celebrities than at any other time in history. That would make you think the celebrities of today are bigger stars than celebrities of the past, but what we have is simply more celebrities, more athletes, more musicians, more actors, etc. The pond becomes larger and the big fish are less apt to stand out.

What does this have to do with Jordan? Jordan, as a standout athlete coming along in the 90s gives him an edge because he rose to fame in the perfect sweetspot for an individual to dominant the pop culture zeitgeist, without being drowned out by a million other voices. Jordan was able to sell his brand long before the days of social media, and his work as a company pitchman with commercials that ran endlessly on cable television, and his craft referenced and cherished in hip hop and more experimental music that wouldn't have existed in prior eras, made him a massive star. However, he didn't have the internet and other competing factors that later superstars would have to contend with. Michael Jackson is an apt comparison, since they came along at the same time and have similar "We will never see someone be this famous again" auras.

TL;DR, the 90s were the perfect time for someone to become a massive star because society was modernized enough for celebrity culture to explode but social media hadn't come along to drown everything out.
That’s not a half assed theory at all. I think most people here would agree with you. In fact several have pretty much said the same in this thread. There’s far more diversity these days.
 

djbayko

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It also is mystifying to me that Jordan has zero cache in getting players to come play for him. He can’t recruit star players, maybe that’s only the geography but it’s still weird. He couldn’t even keep Kemba from bolting to the C’s.
I’m not seeing how that cache would help at all. So your team owner is Michael Jordan , someone you grew up idolizing. Now what? How does that affect your day to day life? Things like geography, team success, and salary would dwarf that as a consideration I would think. And I’m sure superstar players outside of Charlotte get the opportunity to meet MJ every now and then.
 

bosockboy

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I’m not seeing how that cache would help at all. So your team owner is Michael Jordan , someone you grew up idolizing. Now what? How does that affect your day to day life? Things like geography, team success, and salary would dwarf that as a consideration I would think. And I’m sure superstar players outside of Charlotte get the opportunity to meet MJ every now and then.
Well obviously the geography is different, but in their down stretch the Lakers trotted out Magic as a salesmen to try and close free agents. I get it’s LA; just seems like MJ could attract talent. Maybe I’m off here
 

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That’s not a half assed theory at all. I think most people here would agree with you. In fact several have pretty much said the same in this thread. There’s far more diversity these days.
Agree, I generally buy that @Kliq . But as a thought experiment, the "current-day Jordan" question has two parts:

1) Is there someone of roughly equivalent stature to Jordan today, such that someone current could understand the phenomenon by way of analogy?
2) Even if not, who is the closest exemplar today? Someone likeliest to turn sober young adults into awed, screaming throngs?

It's telling that the two examples given so far for #1, Tiger and Michael Jackson, were both at their peak in roughly the same time we're discussing for Jordan. I think that supports your theory. But #2 is still an interesting question nonetheless. Like, I get that nobody's going to touch Beatlemania in terms of a revolutionary level of celebrity, probably in my lifetime - but I can watch old videos and be told "it was like peak Jordan, only several times crazier", or "it was like peak Obama-mania, only an order of magnitude crazier", and more or less get it.
 

Leather

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Agree, I generally buy that @Kliq . But as a thought experiment, the "current-day Jordan" question has two parts:

1) Is there someone of roughly equivalent stature to Jordan today, such that someone current could understand the phenomenon by way of analogy?
2) Even if not, who is the closest exemplar today? Someone likeliest to turn sober young adults into awed, screaming throngs?

It's telling that the two examples given so far for #1, Tiger and Michael Jackson, were both at their peak in roughly the same time we're discussing for Jordan. I think that supports your theory. But #2 is still an interesting question nonetheless. Like, I get that nobody's going to touch Beatlemania in terms of a revolutionary level of celebrity, probably in my lifetime - but I can watch old videos and be told "it was like peak Jordan, only several times crazier", or "it was like peak Obama-mania, only an order of magnitude crazier", and more or less get it.
There isn’t one today. It’s an unanswerable question. Beyoncé is probably the closest celeb, but Jordan famously was deliberately non political (back when that wasn’t quite as difficult) so as not to alienate republicans. Everyone wanted to “be like mike”, black, white, left, right...cartoon, ex Ghostbuster...
 
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That’s not a half assed theory at all. I think most people here would agree with you. In fact several have pretty much said the same in this thread. There’s far more diversity these days.
Exactly.

In 1990, when I was a 9 year old kid in the suburbs of Boston, my bedroom walls weren't covered by posters of Celtics and Red Sox players. I had posters of Michael Jordan and Bo Jackson. That didn't happen by accident.
 

djbayko

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Well obviously the geography is different, but in their down stretch the Lakers trotted out Magic as a salesmen to try and close free agents. I get it’s LA; just seems like MJ could attract talent. Maybe I’m off here
You think Magic is bringing Steph Curry. Lebron, or Giannis to Charlotte? That sort of stuff just puts a cherry on top of the presentation sundae - it ain't the ice cream or the hot fudge. I can't imagine myself agreeing to invest years of my career in a shit situation just because they trotted out a big name during the interviews.
 

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Is Jordan the mentor type? He never struck me as the kind of guy who would want to build younger players up, even as an owner, because his whole mindset is geared toward finding weakness and crushing everyone.
 

bosockboy

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Jul 15, 2005
11,620
St. Louis, MO
You think Magic is bringing Steph Curry. Lebron, or Giannis to Charlotte? That sort of stuff just puts a cherry on top of the presentation sundae - it ain't the ice cream or the hot fudge. I can't imagine myself agreeing to invest years of my career in a shit situation just because they trotted out a big name during the interviews.
I think if Michael had made amends with the Bulls and ran them he could have pulled it off. So I guess it is just Charlotte. Point taken.
 

bosockboy

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Jul 15, 2005
11,620
St. Louis, MO
You think Magic is bringing Steph Curry. Lebron, or Giannis to Charlotte? That sort of stuff just puts a cherry on top of the presentation sundae - it ain't the ice cream or the hot fudge. I can't imagine myself agreeing to invest years of my career in a shit situation just because they trotted out a big name during the interviews.
I think if Michael had made amends with the Bulls and ran them he could have pulled it off. So I guess it is just Charlotte. Point taken.
 

queenb

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Jan 6, 2016
236
This is a half-ass theory but hear me out.

A huge part of Jordan's massive fame, in relation to his peers, is timing. Historically, it is unlikely people in the future will maintain a level of celebrity that people in the past were able to reach. Technology has granted access to so much diversity in our pop culture that the fame of one individual is more limited. Take TV stars for example, television pre-cable and even well into the 90s was less homogeneous than it is today. If you were a star on a big network television show in the 80s, it was not uncommon for you to be watched by like, 40 million viewers. Only the Super Bowl would hit that number today, and we have a lot more TVs and a lot more people than in 80s. Today you might get like, 10 million people on a good night. There are infinite more options, so the individual TV stars are less prominent.

The same can be said for music, which might be even more of a dramatic example because it went from being a medium almost wholly dependent on local DJs playing a record, to being able to listen to any recorded music at almost any moment. It is extremely unlikely we will see another musician become as popular as The Beatles, Elvis or Michael Jackson because the way people consume music is so different.

At the same time, we as a culture have become more obsessed with celebrities as time goes by. In 2020, Americans are probably more interested in celebrities than at any other time in history. That would make you think the celebrities of today are bigger stars than celebrities of the past, but what we have is simply more celebrities, more athletes, more musicians, more actors, etc. The pond becomes larger and the big fish are less apt to stand out.

What does this have to do with Jordan? Jordan, as a standout athlete coming along in the 90s gives him an edge because he rose to fame in the perfect sweetspot for an individual to dominant the pop culture zeitgeist, without being drowned out by a million other voices. Jordan was able to sell his brand long before the days of social media, and his work as a company pitchman with commercials that ran endlessly on cable television, and his craft referenced and cherished in hip hop and more experimental music that wouldn't have existed in prior eras, made him a massive star. However, he didn't have the internet and other competing factors that later superstars would have to contend with. Michael Jackson is an apt comparison, since they came along at the same time and have similar "We will never see someone be this famous again" auras.

TL;DR, the 90s were the perfect time for someone to become a massive star because society was modernized enough for celebrity culture to explode but social media hadn't come along to drown everything out.
Great post and could not agree more. I've heard that phenomenon referred to as disintermediation: as entertainers rely less on intermediaries like major TV networks, movie studios, and record labels, the number of entertainment "channels" increases but the ability of any one show, movie, album, etc. to capture a large audience decreases because people have so many new "channels" to choose from.

For those referencing Obama: trying to put Jordan's fame up against his is sort of cheating because Obama had the institutional advantage of (temporarily) occupying the most powerful job in the world. He was insanely charismatic, and rightly referred to as a celebrity president, but the job still made him famous, which I think diminishes the kind of fandom and fervor we're trying to convey when we talk about fame.

Also, since access to information has never been greater around the globe, anyone who manages to somehow break through across all international media becomes the most famous person who's ever lived. Right now that's Trump, and I mean in terms of penetrating consciousness, not just because we're the most populous we've ever been. As U.S. power declines, I think whatever U.S. president comes just before the fall will benefit from the timing that made Jordan so famous.

Presidents aside, one reason nobody touches peak MJ is that if you had to describe who his biggest fans were you would have trouble choosing a market segment. His fame rivals in my lifetime -- Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Justin Bieber -- had the structural disadvantage of being musical artists. You need major media channels to turn fame into super fame and I think as a majority white country, Americans find it easier to view a black athlete as politically and culturally neutral (i.e., white) than a musical artist, thus enabling them to be more culturally relevant, resonant, etc. (EDIT: and maybe this was partly Jordan's doing?) And it's never just institutional bias, we also internalize it. Michael Jackson, Beyonce, and even Justin Bieber all had potential, but they ultimately appealed so much to certain segments of the population (more girls and women, more black than white, etc.) that it alienated other segments from participating in the hype who otherwise might have (e.g., teenage boys who think an artist's music is too female-coded). Basketball does a lot of the race transcendence work for you from a marketing standpoint. (Of course there will be no actual transcendence in our lifetimes.) And granted MJ was a man playing in a male sports league, and his strongest segments were probably boys who idolized him and men who appreciated his greatness in real time, but something about his brand seems more gender transcendent than those who came before or after him. So when you mix in his job, his transcendent talent, his appearance, his brand strategy, and the timing, it really is hard to imagine anything like it again.
 

Marciano490

Urological Expert
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Nov 4, 2007
45,805
Jordan was far more ubiquitous than anyone else mentioned here. Even when he wasn’t playing, his commercials were constantly on TV during an age when you always saw commercials. Or, you’d see his shoes or his logo or hear someone called the “Michaels Jordan of X.”

Musicians are more cyclical. You don’t hear a ton about Beyoncé or TSwift between albums and they haven’t done a ton of commercials. Also, unless I’m in a store or a bar, I can go months without ever hearing from or of them.

Michael was much more unavoidable in every way.
 

BigSoxFan

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May 31, 2007
34,718
I would put peak Michael Jackson up against MJ. He didn’t sustain it as long as MJ but he was every bit the star for a stretch in the 80s. Plastered on MTV, which was huge in the 80s, all over the radio, a mega star in basically every country, etc. There was no Nike merchandise or anything but if you’re going with the “larger than life” criteria of a megastar, I think he matched MJ for a few years.
 

67YAZ

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Dec 1, 2000
2,448
I think there is certainly some of this with MJ. As you note, playing and being GM require such different skill sets. Of all the star NBA players, who has really excelled as an exec? Jerry West? Bird as President? Ainge was a solid player but not a star. Sure I’m missing someone but would be an interesting study to see why guys like MJ, Isiah, Magic all sucked so badly at it. Could be as simple as it’s just really hard so the odds of failure are quite high.
Selling West a little short here with the question mark. Dude built the Showtime Lakers and the Kobe-Shaq Lakers. He had a strong run in Memphis before going to the Warriors and helping them reach incredible heights. And now his fingerprints are all over the title contending Clippers. All told, that’s 8 championships and the all-time season wins record for the Logo.

I’d rank West as the second greatest executive in history. Clearly, no one will ever catch Red - the number of championships over multiple team building eras is astounding plus he was a key leader in integrating the league. But over the past 50 years, no one has been able to consistently identify and recruit complementary talent - players and coaches - like West. He’s incredible.