Like Mike, I Want to Be Like Mike…Or Do I?

It has been a little over a week since the last episode of the documentary entitled, “The Last Dance” aired. It gave us an opportunity to watch behind the scenes as the Chicago Bulls won six NBA championships in the 90’s. More importantly, it gave us the opportunity to see one of my childhood heroes in a way in which we have never seen him before. From the moment I picked up a basketball, I knew who Michael Jordan was. As a little kid, he was the one player I always emulated. I had dreams of going to play in the NBA because of him. Growing up, if Michael Jordan was playing on tv, I had to watch it. I can remember playing basketball with my cousins almost every day during the summer just to go home and watch Jordan in the playoffs. Then we’d try to do some of his same moves the next day. I even adopted one of his mannerisms that I still use. To this day, my grandma still talks about how I stick out my tongue like Jordan does. It was great to walk down memory lane as an adult and once again get to witness his greatness. But this time, I was able to see things from a different perspective. I was able to see what made his great. I got to look into the mind of one of the greatest athletes of all time. All I can say is just WOW!

Michael Jordan was extremely talented. There is no denying that at all. But what fascinated me is that he did not rely on his talent alone. He was driven to be the best. He developed a work ethic that probably superseded his talent. If you were better than him, he did whatever it took to make sure it didn’t stay that way. Michael Jordan was a student of his craft. He studied the game and continued to outwork everyone around him. If he had a weakness, he turned it into a strength. Jordan showed us what it took to be the absolute best at what you do. Your God given talent isn’t enough to get you to the next level. You must learn everything you can. Study the greats who came before you. Apply the things that made them successful. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Jordan was not doing everything his teammates were doing. He had only one goal, to win championships. Anything (in regards to basketball) that would take his mind or focus off of that, he basically ignored it. Jordan focused all of his energy toward that one goal. The result of that mentality, he went six for six in the finals (two-three peats). To reach this level of success, it is going to require a lot of hard work and a lot of sacrifice. In the end, it was definitely worth it.

One of the subtle things that I picked up on was the way Michael Jordan spoke. He didn’t speak negativity or failure. He spoke success. He spoke his legacy into existence. He said during his rookie year that he wanted to make The Bulls into a historic franchise like the Lakers and Celtics. Well, he did that in the 90’s. Everything he said, he said with confidence. It’s almost as if he did not accept the word “can’t.” If you told him that he could not do something, he found a way to do it. The words he spoke in regards to basketball were powerful. I learned that you must only speak positive things when it comes to your goals. Words of doubt need to be eliminated from your vocabulary. Even if you fail along the way (losing to the Pistons), you still speak your goals and continue to go after them. The greats speak differently. It’s as if they know the true power of their words and they use them to manifest great things. I loved how on the last episode, they went back to that moment his rookie year when talked about creating a legacy and winning championships. It all started with words.

As great of a basketball player that Michael Jordan was, he understood that he could not win a championship on his own. Jordan had a unique way of helping those around him elevate their game to another level. He pulled the best out of them. He said in the documentary that he did not ask anything of anyone he was not willing to do himself. Jordan led by example. When the Bulls lost to the Pistons and needed to get bigger and stronger. Jordan was leading the way in the gym adding fifteen pounds of muscle. He was in basketball gym improving every aspect of his game. If you saw the documentary, then you understand that everyone didn’t approve of the way he treated his teammates. Jordan was a leader. He did not care about his team’s feelings. He knew what it took to win a championship and he demanded that each and every player on that team elevated their game to that level. If he felt as if he did cross a line, he apologized (ex: punching Steve Kerr). I cannot say anything against Jordan’s methods because the results were that they won six NBA championships in eight years. Being a leader is not about being liked. It’s about being respected and elevating those around you to the level that they need to be at. No one said that it would be easy, but if you’re willing to do what is necessary then the results will speak for itself.

So the question is, do I still want to be like Mike? Of course. Jordan, through this documentary showed me what it takes to reach that level of success. Does this mean that I agree with everything he did? No, I do not. Jordan gave us the blueprint. If we are able to follow it, we too can be successful in the path that we choose to take. This documentary gave me the opportunity to look into the mindset of one on the greats. Yes, this was entertainment. But I was learning more than I was being entertained. The thing that stood out to me the most was said by one of his coaches. Michael Jordan has an on/off switch that he could turn on at any time. Jordan never turned it off. In order to reach this level, I have to flip that switch and never turn it off. Time to take that first step. Let’s get it.

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