We all have our heroes. Men and women who've inspired us to be great and to achieve great things. Men and women who you look up to and hope you can be like one day. Men and women who give you something to aspire to.
For me, without a doubt, one of my heroes is Michael Jordan.
I was born in 1982. The year he became a national star by hitting the game winning shot for North Carolina in the NCAA Championship Game to beat Georgetown. But, my earliest recollections of him is watching him beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1991 NBA Finals to win his first NBA Championship. I've been a fan (maybe even a fanatic!) ever since.
Being that today, February 17, is his birthday, as a tribute, I wanted to list 3 ways he's inspired me over the years.
INTENSE WILL TO WIN
MJ had a will to win like nobody I've seen in the NBA since. (Kobe came close.) Every possession. Every play. Every game. It all meant something to Mike. You could see it in his eyes. In his demeanor. In his intensity. Not only did you see it on game day, but the stories that are told of how intense of a player he was in practice really are the indicator of how fierce of a competitor he actually was.
From watching his various documentaries and films, I would also come to learn that his competitive nature impacts how he does everything. Golf, cards, ping pong, gambling (which I don't recommend. Ha!), owning the Charlotte Hornets - he does it all with one goal in mind - winning. Intense will to win. I respect that.
DOGGED DETERMINATION TO OVERCOME
From getting cut from the varsity basketball team in his freshman year, to recovering from a broken foot in his second season, to losing three consecutive times to the Detroit Pistons before making it to the Finals, to coming out of retirement...twice - MJ was and is resilient. Failure wasn't ever something that held Michael back, it only seemed to make him stronger.
One of the greatest examples of this was the 1995-1996 NBA season. In the 1994-1995 playoffs, the Bulls lost to the Orlando Magic in the semifinals. Jordan would made an embarrassing mistake in Game 1 that cost them the game. A mistake leading many to believe that he had, "lost it." Well, the very next year, MJ would lead his team to a 72-10 record (only bested by the Warriors in 2016 when they went 72-9) and his fourth championship against the Seattle Supersonics. The year after people thought he had "lost it," MJ won the NBA All-Star MVP, the NBA Regular Season MVP, and the NBA Finals MVP! Dogged determination to overcome. I respect that.
INNOVATIVE SWAG THAT SET HIM APART
A gold chain in the dunk contest. Baggier shorts. The armband. The legband. The SHOES. The creative dunking ability. The fadeaway. The footwork. The finishing at the rim. He did it all with so much Swag. Style. Creativity. Innovation. MJ was fresh. And no one at the time, in the league, was like him. His swag transcended basketball and influenced hip hop and pop culture. When the Dream Team went to Barcelona in 1992, on a team with Magic, Bird, Ewing, Barkley, Drexler, Robinson, and Malone - MJ was the main attraction!
And this swag reverberates through pop culture to this day. Kids who have never seen him play do anything they can to grab a pair of his shoes. His moves on the basketball court are imitated by players today time and time again. Innovative swag that set him apart. I respect that.
Pursue a greater will to win.
Develop a deeper determination to overcome.
Get yourself some swag.
I'll respect that.