Jordan. Montana. Nicklaus. Ruth.
All four of those names are synonymous with their respective sport. Just the mention of their name will draw smiles to faces, reflecting on the good ole days when they dominated their league.
If you have been living under a rock, ESPN is in the middle of a 10-part documentary on one of the aforementioned legends of their sport: Michael Jordan.
Over the past few weeks, I have poked a few bears saying - slightly serious, but not so much - that while Jordan is great, I don’t believe he is the greatest of all time [GOAT] of his sport. Does that take away from Jordan’s greatness? No. If I needed a last shot to save the world from the aliens the CIA identified, Jordan would be in the running to take it.
Living in the year 2020 though, people take offense to statements like that. They have hung onto their idols for so long that when any person suggests otherwise, they view it as an insult.
Through the years, I have tried to learn to appreciate greatness when it is happening. As a kid, I could not stand the thought of Jeff Gordon winning another championship, keeping Dale Earnhardt Sr. away from that elusive eighth title. I rooted for the Carolina Panthers to upend the Patriots over that “pretty boy” Tom Brady. Then, I pulled for a young Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden to keep LeBron James away from his first title.
One day it finally clicked.
Maybe it was seeing Jeff Gordon, Chipper Jones, and Kobe Bryant, retire that I missed out appreciating greatness because I was rooting for them to fail. Sports are weird like that. People hate when someone dominates.
Do I want my teams to win? Yes. Do I hate to see them lose? You bet. One thing I am trying to get better at is appreciating their greatness while they are dominating.
I respect Tom Brady, LeBron James, and Jimmie Johnson now.
You can talk about LeBron James’ toughness, but never forget Jordan was accused by his peers of “superstar calls.” You can poke fun at deflated footballs, but never forget that Jerry Rice used Stickum spray to gain an edge.
Don’t waste the handful of seasons we do get to see generational talent to only put them down. Instead, enjoy the dance while we are in the middle of it instead of waiting on the last one.