It may not seem like that long ago to many of us, but Michael Jordan last played in an NBA game nearly 10 years ago. However, his legacy his continued to live on and when the basketball icon celebrated his 50th birthday on Sunday, many of his adoring fans couldn’t stop their fond, nostalgic memories of “Air Jordan” from rising back to the surface.
Sports news outlets couldn’t resist either. Sportscenter celebrated MJ’s legend by putting together a top 50 Michael Jordan moments list and Sports Illustrated featured Jordan on the cover of last week’s issue, marking his 50th cover appearance.
But just because Jordan is 50 and retired doesn’t mean he can’t play. Just last week Jordan beat Bobcats star rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist – who is thirty years Jordan’s junior – in a one-on-one game. Kidd-Gilchrist admitted defeat, saying : “Oh, yeah. He’s good.”
With Jordan out of the game as a player, many NBA fans have wondered who, if anyone, could ever replace him. Some fans seem to think that player is LeBron James. There was a noticeable uptick in comparisons between the two players – especially after seeing James’ performance in recent weeks, which included a record-setting streak of six games with 30 or more points and better than 60% field goal shooting. However, when thinking back to the famous Gatorade ads from the 1990s – which featured normal people trying to imitate “His Airness” – one might remember than no one is quite “Like Mike.”
His career numbers say the same. The six NBA titles, six NBA Finals MVPs, five regular season MVPS, 14 All-Star appearances, 10 scoring titles, Rookie-of-the-Year award, two slam dunk titles and two Olympic gold medals tell future generations what most of us who watched him play already know, that he is the greatest basketball player who ever lived.
Here’s a clip from his 2009 Hall-of-Fame induction, which provides highlights, peer interviews and stories about the one who we will always known affectionately as MJ: