Sports column: It’s your call, MJ

By Jacob Bressler

In my mind, Michael Jordan hasn’t played in the NBA since game six of the 1998 NBA Finals, when he crossed up Bryan Russell and hit the title-winning shot for the Bulls.

His stint with the Washington Wizards reminded me of the season of Saved by the Bell with Tory; you wanted to pretend it didn’t happen and you missed Kelly Kapowski in that Bayside cheerleading outfit.

MJ has denied the rumors that he will return to the league to play with Shaq in Miami, even though he has been spotted playing pickup games and working out with personal trainer Tim Grover.

Jordan’s word these days doesn’t mean much in the public. Wasn’t he 99 percent sure he wasn’t coming back when he retired before the 1998-1999 season?

The speculation has brought on criticism about the possible return of The Greatest Player Ever. And, yes, His Airness’ fourth stint in the NBA would further diminish his legacy in the minds of many observers.

However, MJ should be able to play as long as he still has the hunger and ability to compete at the highest level. Jordan has done so much for the game; why criticize him now for a possible return to the sport he loves?

I would never be able to criticize MJ if he decides to give it another go in the league. I’m sick of outsiders talking about great players who hang around their games too long.

I would give anything to play professional sports – even for one day. How can you rip on somebody who wants to extend their career and continue playing a game for a living?

In the NFL, there is an outcry for Emmit Smith to finally retire. The all-time leading rusher is seemingly wasting away in Arizona, playing hard for a lowly Cardinals team.

I have nothing but respect for Smith. He has swallowed his pride and has been exiled to the desert, yet he still plays the game because he loves the competition.

There are so many athletes out there who only care about money. They would rather have personalized rings from a jewelry store than those of the championship variety. They play for contracts and endorsements rather than the love of the game.

Jordan has cashed in on his talent and his worldwide celebrity. However, his determination to win and his passion for hoops have never been questioned.

It would be good for the league to have Michael playing again, even though his skills are clearly fading and he is obviously no longer the best player in the world.

He is a great mentor for the younger players. The NBA right now is composed of selfish teenagers who don’t know how to play team basketball and only care about scoring 30 points a game.

The more players MJ can influence while he is still functional, the better. He can remind the younger players of a time when the NBA was popular and produced a good brand of basketball.

I feel obligated to have unwavering support for Jordan.

The Bulls dynasty of the 1990s was one of the reasons I became so interested in sports. Those teams played the game flawlessly, with Michael running the show.

It is hard to forget certain moments from his career, such as switching hands on long-armed Sam Perkins in the ’91 finals or dropping 45 on the Jazz while suffering the ailments of a stomach flu.

MJ will never be able to recreate or duplicate these moments, and he shouldn’t have to. His legacy is already set in stone, whether he returns to the game or not.

If there are any truths to the rumors, then I say let the old man play in peace.

Jacob Bressler is a senior in communications. He can be reached at [email protected]