Michael Jordan is one of the greatest basketball players of all-time, but in 1994, during his sixth NBA season, he was humbled by a reality that most of us could not even conceive of. He took a well-deserved mental break, and wasn’t around to see the changes in the NBA culture and social media.
As Michael Jordan made his NBA comeback in the 1990s, the basketball star’s unprecedented success took a toll on the athlete’s psyche. Overwhelmed by the pressures of being the greatest basketball player of all time, the athlete couldn’t keep up in his own head.
When basketball great Michael Jordan retired from the NBA in 2003, he did so as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He was the most highly paid athlete in history, had an estimated net worth of $1.24 billion , and had a career scoring average of 30.45 points per game. But when he retired, he left the game with a bitter taste in his mouth. Why? Because of all the media scrutiny he’d faced during his illustrious career.
Michael Jordan is a basketball player who was born in is a basketball player who was born in is not a deity, contrary to popular belief. He is a living creature. Even though he is one of the most renowned people on the world, he is still a human person. And it’s on that famous section that we’ll concentrate our attention today, a day when gymnastics sensation Simone Biles is being chastised on social media for withdrawing from the Olympic team final and choosing out of the individual all-around competition to focus on her mental health.
Unfortunately, Biles’ decision to withdraw from the team competition after just one spin put her in a no-win scenario. When you think about it, it’s the typical “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. If she had decided to continue, she would have been chastised for jeopardizing her team’s chances of winning a medal. However, since she decided to withdraw, she has been dubbed a “quitter,” which is absurd. Biles is prioritizing her mental health above fame, and she is doing it in front of millions of people, which should be applauded rather than mocked.
Jordan, who dramatically altered the landscape of the NBA during his time with the Chicago Bulls in the 1980s and 1990s, understands what it’s like to be the face of a sports club. I won’t go so far as to claim that their circumstances are identical — because they aren’t — but you can see the link I’m trying to draw because there are a lot of parallels between what Biles has gone through and what Jordan went through back in the day.
Professional athletes, particularly those at the top of their sport, are under a great deal of stress. And the argument I’ve heard before is that they should all simply put up with it since they’re paid millions of dollars. Money, on the other hand, has no bearing on any of this. These are, once again, human beings — well-paid human beings, to be sure, but human beings nevertheless. They are aware of their surroundings. They are infuriating. They are in tears. They need rest. Even Michael Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, needed a mental health vacation. And he accomplished it at his NBA career’s peak. What’s more, do you know why? Come ahead, join me in saying it. He’s a human person, after all.
Michael Jordan is the most well-known athlete of all time.
Jordan is probably the most renowned athlete of all time, in my opinion. Muhammad Ali, in my view, is the only other guy who might be considered. In any case, during his heyday with the Bulls, Jordan established himself as a worldwide icon, a position he still retains today.
However, that designation carries a lot of weight and draws a lot of attention. Every decision he made was reported in the press or debated on a sports talk program. And this applies to both excellent and perceived-to-be-bad decisions. Consider the time he traveled to Atlantic City with his father to see the Bulls play the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1993. Jordan was mocked brutally and needlessly for the “stunt.”
And that’s only one of a thousand possible scenarios we might come up with. It’s simply that it’s one of the more well-known examples. It also happened only months before James Jordan was brutally killed, which is one of the reasons Michael went insane.
In 1993, Jordan took a mental vacation from the NBA.
Getty Images/Michael Jordan | Charles Cherney/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service
Jordan, as most people know, retired from the NBA for the first time in October 1993, just months after his father was murdered. As someone who has lost his father, I understand how tough it is. And my father wasn’t even killed. And I didn’t have to deal with people blaming me for it, as Jordan did when some journalists attempted to link James Jordan’s death to Michael Jordan’s gambling, which couldn’t have been easy for MJ to handle.
Jordan was ready to retire from the NBA even before his father died, having led the Bulls to their third straight championship in 1993, as he openly acknowledged in the documentary The Last Dance.
“I was physically tired, but psychologically I was completely spent. When you attempt to accomplish something over and over again, you lose part of your desire and your edge.”
Jordan, on the other hand, had every right to depart. Wasn’t it frustrating not to be able to see him and the Bulls try for a fourth straight title? Sure. I was a teenager living only three hours south of Chicago at the time, and seeing him walk away from the game of basketball felt like the worst thing in the world. But I was aware of it at the time, and I am aware of it today. I can see why Biles is acting the way she is.
Again, the circumstances aren’t identical, but that young lady has gone through a lot in her life and has dealt with things I could never imagine. But I’m meant to feel irritated with her, right? Please, don’t make me laugh.
Jordan never had to deal with social media during his playing days, but Biles does. Jordan would only have to deal with criticism from the media and fans who were fortunate enough to get through the screening procedure on a call-in sports radio program back in the day. However, these days, the heat comes from all over the globe, and everyone, as we all know, has an opinion.
Go ahead and check out how many people are talking about Simone Biles on Twitter right now. Imagine what it would have been like if Jordan had played in the NBA today. MJ himself doesn’t want to think about it, saying in a 2020 interview with Cigar Aficionado that he’s not sure he could’ve handled it. He compared his position to that of Tiger Woods, another player who understands what it’s like to carry a sport.
“Toward the conclusion of my career, Tiger [Woods] was at the top of his game. What has changed since that time is social media, such as Twitter and other such platforms. And this has infiltrated people’s personality and personal time. It’s gotten to the point where some individuals have been able to profit from it financially and in other ways.
“But for someone like myself — and this is what Tiger struggles with — I don’t know if I could’ve lived in this Twitter [period], where you don’t have the privacy you’d want and what seems to be really harmless may always be misinterpreted,” she says.
Jordan was one of the few sportsmen who was constantly scrutinized throughout his career. And it seems like everyone is these days, which is why Biles is receiving the criticism she is now. Someone is going to criticize her for anything she says or does in the near future. And, sure, being an elite athlete entails this.
But criticizing her performance on the mat or Jordan’s performance on the court is one thing, and attacking someone’s mental condition is quite another. You have no clue what’s going on in someone else’s mind, just as no one knows what’s going on in yours.
Jordan returned to the NBA in 1995, and with the Bulls, he won three more titles. Perhaps Biles will return the following week and win a few medals in the individual competitions. And it’s possible she doesn’t. But whatever she chooses to do, it will be her decision, and she will do what is best for her, just like Jordan did in 1993.
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