With the abundance of sports news reported everyday, one of the biggest, most talked about headlines was a 44-year-old NBA owner participating in practice with his team. It just so happens that owner was Michael Jordan. No, the greatest basketball player of all-time isn’t contemplating a return to the court. But MJ’s emergence from the boardroom did get me thinking. If he wanted to, could he still play? Unquestionably YES! Don’t forget he scored 51 points in a game at the age of 38. Then scored 43 points when he was 40-years-old, shattering Kareem‘s previous high of 27 in 1987.
But all this talk is clearly dependent on a laundry list of “what-ifs.”
- If his knees are healthy
- If he is in the best condition – for a 44-year-old
- If he’s on the right team and in the right situation (think aging superstar playing to compete for a championship a la Robert Horry w/superhuman basketball abilities)
- And if, most importantly – he could suppress the #1 reason he is Michael Jordan? That eternal, inextinguishable competitive fire that drives him to dominate every minute of every game.
Can you picture Jordan only playing 20-25 minutes a game coming off the bench? Being the 3rd or 4th scoring option? Not being the guy everyone in the arena knows is going to take the last shot at the buzzer? I can’t, and neither can he.
Ultimately, that is what keeps #23 from making another Washington Wizard-esque return to the game he loves. So for now I’ll take the images of him fading – slowly and not as far – away from Raymond Felton to knock down his bread and butter shot.
I’ll save my thoughts on what MJ would do in this era if he were 29-years-old for another post. Hint: Kobe, Wade, Lebron and any of the other superstar guards should consider themselves lucky.