Michael Jordan vs Kobe Bryant: Duel of Icons
MH Icons: Michael Jordan
Creative. Athletic. Authentic. Aspirational. Driven. All these words could be accurately used to describe a man who, in large swathes of my native United States, has been regarded as the greatest athlete to walk the earth since the days of Leonidas of Rhodes: Michael Jordan.
As a child growing up on the Southside of Chicago, I had the great fortune of bearing witness to the beauty and limitlessness of human potential. Jordan, to us, represented style and grace in the form of an irreverent iconoclast.
He would not be confined nor defined by the often misguided stereotypes of Black achievement. He represented honour, brotherhood, collective achievement and the complexity of the human spirit. If that sounds somewhat histrionic, if anything I’m downplaying the public feeling towards him at the time.
His victories were our victories. His losses were our losses. We watched him achieve his dreams. We watched him display raw emotions as he lay motionless on the floor of the Bulls locker room in 1996, after winning his fourth championship on Father’s Day (his greatest victory coming on the day of his father’s untimely and tragic demise).
We embraced him and made him one of our own. Chicago is a city that has also suffered tremendous loss. It is a city full of dreams deferred and yet we found direction and courage through Jordan’s achievements. His journey towards greatness was not one of grandeur but rather sacrifice and defeat. We all wanted to be like him, if only for a moment.
Today, the Air Jordan sneaker continues to stand alone as a cultural Rosetta Stone by which greatness can be deciphered and extended. This is what fuelled Jordan’s ascension from “The Man” to “The Brand”.
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