Monday, March 14, 2011

I forgive you Michael Jordan

This weekend I finally let go of a grudge I've been carrying around for the last 13 years.

So if you are reading Michael Jordan...I forgive you.

To most people in Chicago, Michael Jordan is an icon. A legend.
But to me, he is was nothing more than a pompous & cocky ball hog that let down his fans. Or maybe just me.
I'm still processing some of this.

You see Mike and I weren't always on the outs. Back in the early 90's we were actually pretty tight.
I grew up watching a young Michael Jordan from North Carolina become Air Jordan. I watched as he seemingly soared through the air and dunked over his competition. I, like most of the nation, was captivated by his talent and I watched with pride as he led the Bulls to an unprecedented three-peat in 1991, '92, & '93.

I remember what a great time that was. How much fun it was watching games with my family, which was rare because neither of my parents were sports enthusiasts. But each of those championship series we came together and watched. I had posters and t-shirts & my most prized possession was my black and red rhinestone bedazzled Bulls hat. I scored it on a shopping trip to Gurnee Mills Mall with my grandma. I wore that thing proudly for years. With my Z Cavaricci's, my Reebok Pump sneakers (mom wouldn't spring for the Air Jordan's), and my championship t-shirt.

I still remember driving down to the street vendor on the corner selling championship t-shirts the day after they won their first championship. We blasted "Woomp There It Is" on the radio.
I remember watching all the rally's in Grant Park and the goosebumps I felt as the player talked. I remember feeling like a part of it all. Of something that was sure to go down in the record books. Something that would be talked about for years to come.

Then in 1993 Michael Jordan betrayed me. He quit. Or retired. Or whatever you want to call it.
And just like that, my young, full of hope for a 4-peat heart, sank.

Looking back on it now, I understand his decision.
His father had just been murdered and he needed some time to figure things out. Sadly though, at the time, my 13 year old mind didn't comprehend the weight of all that.
So I grew resentful of Mike.
Especially when he pulled the whole "I'm going to be a baseball player thing". I threw out all my posters and tucked my t-shirts away. Though I was still a Bulls fan at heart, the team was never the same to me. Even in 1996, '97, and '98 when they three-peated again. I rejoiced in the championships, but I still felt bitterness for the new number 45.
Then he retired again.
And in 2001 he put the final knife in my back by coming out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards. He just up and left us.
And with that I swore off the NBA.

Up until this weekend, I always had hatred for Mr. Jordan. People were always stunned to learn that I wasn't a fan. It almost seemed blasphemous in this city. But then this week, Kevin made me watch one of his ESPN shows. It was a 30 for 30 show called Jordan Rides the Bus. It was all about Mike and what he went through the years he quit basketball. How he struggled with his decision. How he played baseball because his father had always wanted him too.
Suddenly I felt as though, after all these years, I was a little hard on him. That maybe I was a little too selfish and naive in my judgements.
Then on Saturday, during halftime of the Bulls game, they paid tribute to the '91 Chicago Bulls Championship team. And as the music played and the clips from the year played back, I felt those goosebumps again. My eyes welled up with pride and nostalgia. I felt like I went back in time and suddenly was that 11 year old girl watching the game with her family. And it felt good.
And suddenly my heart began to soften for him.

So Michael, if you are reading...
I forgive you.
And I'm moving on. There is an incredible young man named Derrick Rose that is going to do great things for this team. And I need to let go of my grudge with you and the NBA, so I can move on and watch him.

now where is that bedazzled hat...