Although not seen all that much in NBA circles, Michael Jordan still carries a lot of influence
HOUSTON — Michael Jordan turned 50 Sunday, giving the All-Stars this year a chance to reflect on his illustrious career and how much he still means to the sport.
In a weekend filled with the NBA’s greatest players, Jordan was the topic no one could stop talking about. Though he hasn’t played since the 2002-03 season, Jordan’s influence still permeates the league and its players.
“Every kid that wanted to play basketball, that could play, that couldn’t play, you tried to emulate Michael Jordan,” Heat star Dwyane Wade said. “That’s why there will never be another one of him. He the first of his kind. Everything he did was groundbreaking. He did it with so much flare and so much pizazz that even today people are still trying to be like Mike.”
Jordan won six titles and five MVP awards during a career spent mostly with the Bulls that began in 1984.
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Jordan was in Houston this weekend, and celebrated his birthday early with a private bash Friday at the Museum of Fine Arts with guests including LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
Los Angeles Lakers center Dwight Howard is so impressed with Jordan that he said he’s like a real version of Superman.
“Be Like Mike” was more than a marketing campaign. It was a dream for many of today’s players.
“He’s amazing,” Howard said. “He’s one of the reasons why we played basketball. He inspired us to do great things. I hear his voice sometimes on commercials, it makes you want to get out there and try to do something.”
Though he isn’t seen often, Jordan is never far from the game. He is close to a group of players through his Jordan Brand apparel and as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats. He ignited one of the debates of the weekend when he told NBA TV he would chose Bryant over James based on the number of championships each has won.
“If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice, but five beats one every time I look at it, and not that (James) won’t get five, he may get more than that, but five is bigger than one,” Jordan said.
For 30 years of options, David Stern’s answer came surprisingly quickly.
Asked his favorite All-Star memory as NBA commissioner, he chose the 1992 game, when Magic Johnson returned to win MVP honors after retiring the previous fall because of the HIV virus.
“Giving sweaty Magic Johnson a big hug right after he hit the last three and still being able to hug him, because he’s alive every time I see him,” Stern said. “That is at the top of the list.”
a special treat
Past and present NBA stars and WNBA players joined a dozen Special Olympics athletes in a charity game Sunday afternoon.
Former Sonics star Detlef Schrempf joined Dikembe Mutombo and Chris Mullin among the former players while Portland guard Damian Lillard and Golden State forward Harrison Barnes were among the current ones who participated in the NBA Cares Special Olympics Unity Sports game.
“It’s not about how good you are,” Mutombo said, “it’s just about sharing the same value and love on the basketball court, and in any sport. Just enjoy it.”