"Thank God there was no social media back then." -- Horace Grant
As much as people long for the days of Michael Jordan taking to the air of being the best player in the world again, in reality, the entity we know as MJ might have never been allowed to take off if social media was around 20-30 years ago. Let's make a quick list.
- Remember when MJ went to the 1985 All-Star Game as a rookie wearing gold chains and stealing all the shine from the other stars? That led to Isiah Thomas and the rest of the East freezing out Jordan and not passing him the ball. This would've made for a field day on Twitter. (Although MJ did exact a bit of revenge on the Dream Team.)
- MJ confessing to Pat Riley that he'd be content without winning a championship. Could you imagine LeBron saying this? The internet would've killed him.
- MJ's issues with gambling have become a part of his legacy, but could you imagine TMZ crashing Atlantic City to see a jaundiced-eyed Jordan smoking a stogie with a salacious, ethnically ambiguous lady of the night wearing big hoop earrings on his lap while yelling, "BET A THOUSAND, SHOOT A THOUSAND" in a casino? The memes would fly.
- The baseball career of Michael Jordan would be slandered to the high heavens. Because you can't be out here failing at life.
- Jordan's time with the Washington Wizards would've received extreme scrutiny. All those missed dunks and cussing out sessions of Jerry Stackhouse and Richard Hamilton? We would've had a field day with that.
That's just a quick list off the top of my head, not to mention the fact that Jordan had a tendency to punch out his (white) teammates in practice when things weren't going right. From Steve Kerr to Jud Buechler, the chin check was always an option. Evidently, MJ was also willing to punch out (white) guys taller than him too.
Per the words of Horace Grant on HOT 97 last week:
“I hate to tell the story, but Will and I are still good friends … Typical Phil (Jackson), we run this play and Will set an illegal pick on MJ, and MJ said, 'Will, don’t do it again.’
“‘Whatcha talking about,’ that’s Will. MJ says alright; Phil says run it again. So naturally we run it two more times, illegal pick. MJ walks up to Will — BOOM! Lit him up. It was over; we grabbed Will — you’re not going to hurt MJ."
Poor Will Perdue. He probably thought the days of him getting punched in the face were past him, and now we're bringing it back up. He'll be alright though.
Ebro, Rosenberg and company put together a nice interview with Grant where he throws shade on his brother Harvey, Charles Barkley and the current state of the NBA. The mention of MJ punching Perdue out is around the six-minute mark.
Eddie Maisonet is the founder and editor emeritus of The Sports Fan Journal. Currently, he serves as an associate editor for ESPN.com. He is an unabashed Russell Westbrook and Barry Switzer apologist, owns over 100 fitteds and snapbacks, and lives by Reggie Jackson’s famous quote, “I am the straw that stirs the drink.”