A couple weeks ago I caught Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame speech. The "wow" I felt upon watching the speech was not the same kind of "wow" I often felt watching him play basketball when I was in high school and college (I won't count the Washington Wizards years). Watching MJ play was to watch brilliance on the basketball court. I enjoy watching greatness and that is what his play was- athletic greatness. He dominated while winning six championships. His recent speech however was a different experience. Jordan was caustic, bitter, and cold. This was certainly not the legend that fans imagined. Of course during his playing days MJ cultivated an image as much as he perfected his game. He was a master at self-promotion. Fans bought into the idea of Air Jordan rather than the man himself. His speech demonstrated the man himself.
On one hand it was a rare glimpse into the true personality of a carefully crafted celebrity but on the other hand it was a tragic example of the emptiness that all the world's trophies ultimately hold. To be the basketball champion and multi-million dollar entity that Jordan became he had to be cutthroat in every way. This is the kind of man one must be to "gain the whole world". At the same time this is the kind of man that "forfeits his soul". After all his accomplishments Jordan showed lingering bitterness toward those who disrespected or underestimated him. On this grand stage he took the opportunity once again to dunk on the heads of all those who crossed him for one reason or another through the years. Here was a man who had reached the pinnacle of the earth's glories and reaches and there he stood... bitter and empty.
Back in high school I had a poster of Air Jordan. On the Hall of Fame stage MJ was a poster boy once again. This time it was not as a champion but as a tragic and cautionary tale of the fading glories of this world. True victory is not found in trophies that pass away but in the fulfillment that is found in Christ alone. I pray Michael Jordan will one day realize the greatest champion is not #23 but the Messiah Jesus.
- Mark 8:36, "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?"