It's true. Less than 12 months after his own Hall of Fame induction turned into a keynote lecture on unresolved resentments, Michael Jordan will be back in Springfield, Mass, this time as the presenter for Scottie Pippen's induction as part of the 2010 class.
Can you curb stomp someone with a speech? Jordan appeared determined to try in 2009.
Sadly, this year, Jordan's role in the ceremonies will be minimal and highly scripted, as the presenters don't really do much here. But just as an anniversary of sorts, let's take a quick look back at last year's ceremony. The standard for Friday night has been set high.
Here was the meat of the speech:
The definitive reaction came from Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo! Sports:
Jordan didn’t hurt his image with the NBA community, as much as he reminded them of it. "That’s who Michael is," one high-ranking team executive said. "It wasn’t like he was out of character. There’s no one else who could’ve gotten away with what he did tonight. But it was Michael, and everyone just goes along."
Jordan wandered through an unfocused and uninspired speech at Symphony Hall, disparaging people who had little to do with his career, like Jeff Van Gundy and Bryon Russell. He ignored people who had so much to do with it, like his personal trainer, Tim Grover. This had been a moving and inspirational night for the NBA – one of its best ceremonies ever – and five minutes into Jordan’s speech it began to spiral into something else. Something unworthy of Jordan’s stature, something beneath him. [...]
Whatever, Michael. Everyone gets it. Truth be told, everyone got it years ago, but somehow he thinks this is a cleansing exercise. When basketball wanted to celebrate Jordan as the greatest player ever, wanted to honor him for changing basketball everywhere, he was petty and punitive. Yes, there was some wink-wink teasing with his beloved Dean Smith, but make no mistake: Jordan revealed himself to be strangely bitter.
Indeed, explaining his "competitive nature" to the Hall of Fame audience, Jordan basically went down a laundry list of enemies and past foes that'd crossed him. Really. For a solid 15 minutes he went down a list of various people that'd pissed him off and "fueled his competitive nature." You know, because before he thanked his children and his family, he had to embarrass Jerry Krause.
It was... Well, hey, at least it was authentic.
I'm not entirely sure what his last words were, but I think this is how it ended:
...The greatest player of all time, folks! Thanks for coming!
(For everyone's sake, let's hope the ceremony goes a little smoother tonight.)