Be like Mike?

Outside of limited trips to the neighborhood grocery store, most of us have largely been stuck at home during the past eight weeks due to the pandemic lockdown. I’m a reader, so to keep myself occupied, I downloaded six ebooks and bought two hard-copy, used books from Amazon third-party sellers. Many people have whiled away the surplus hours by binge-watching movies and series on Netflix, Amazon, or other streaming services. In the midst of this high demand for home entertainment, somebody at ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) timed it perfectly with the release of “The Last Dance,” a ten-part documentary, which focuses on Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls basketball team during their heyday in the 1990s. The first two episodes premiered on April 19th followed by the release of two additional episodes each of the next four Sunday nights.

Sports-starved American males (and undoubtedly some females) are captivated by this series. ESPN previously had good success with its “30 for 30” series about interesting sports stories, but “The Last Dance” documentary has to be shattering all kinds of audience records.

Michael Jordan played for the Bulls from 1984 to 1993 and 1995 to 1998, leading the team to six NBA championships in that span, and is arguably one of the top-three sports icons of modern times. That very short short-list also includes Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. What made Jordan so good? Not only was he blessed with extraordinary athletic ability, he was also driven to be the very best.

In his push to win championships, Jordan took no prisoners. He even savagely bullied his own teammates. This series provides many unflinching and sometimes even painfully revealing insights into Jordan’s and the Bull’s rise to the top of the National Basketball Association.

A massive advertising campaign once encouraged all of us to “Be like Mike.” The man still enjoys worldwide fame and adulation to a degree that few others have known.

After having watched the latest episodes of “The Last Dance” this past Sunday night, I was doing my morning walk through the neighborhood and listening via earbuds to a sermon from John MacArthur regarding the Sermon on the Mount and the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Argh! It struck me how VASTLY different the teachings and example of Jesus Christ are compared to the values of this world as exemplified by the adulation accorded to Michael Jordan. I’m not privy to Jordan’s spiritual beliefs. The man has kept his religious views, if any, so private despite thirty-six years of media scrutiny that they frustrate any and every google search. However, it doesn’t appear from the many interviews and behind-the-scenes segments in this series that Michael knows and loves the Lord.

I don’t want to be like Mike, I want to be like Jesus Christ.

Postscript: Featured in one of the episodes is a quip from Larry Bird in a press interview immediately after 23-year-old, Michael Jordan, scored 63 points in a playoff loss to Bird’s Boston Celtics on April 20, 1986. “It’s just God disguised as Michael Jordan,” said the exasperated Bird. Ach. That’s going WAY too far, Larry!

37 thoughts on “Be like Mike?

  1. We watched it… I had nothing but pity for him and his followers.

    I also watched the one on Dennis Rodman. I was captivated by it simply because I feel so sorry for him. It opened my eyes to not referring to him as a “weirdo” but a COMPLETELY lost soul. At the end I literally cried for him and prayed he comes to know what he truly needs Jesus 🙏🏻❤️

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Beth. Yes, believers can see that Jordan and Rodman and Pippen were desperately searching for fulfillment outside of Christ. Having reached the pinnacle of worldly “success,” they are still not content. One segment showed quite well how Jordan is even a “prisoner” of his “success,” unable to go anywhere without being hasseled by adoring fans.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. A great dish! I wasn’t able to buy my favorite rice mix for the recipe because of the semi-slim pickings at the grocery but still delicious!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, it’s mesmerizing to watch the old clips of MJ playing b ball. Such an incredibly gifted athlete. It’s clear from his comments and the way he conducts himself off the court that in his mind it’s ALL about himself. I’m grateful for those athletes – like those in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes – who use their notoriety for Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The MJ video I watched discussed the death of his father also MJ involvement in drugs etc.
        Not a good example nor are they showing responsibility to those young minds that think of them as heroes, Gifted they are wisdom they don’t have. And yes there are tons of b players born again Christians honouring their Lord and Saviour.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, the series is revealing some of the darker aspects of MJ behind the talent and celebrity. His bullying of his teammates, sometimes vicious, was quite an eye-opener. In our flesh we are so prone to celebrity idolatry. Coincidentally, I recently read a few books about the independent fundamental Baptist movement where I started as a new Christian. Pastor idolatry was part and parcel of that movement leading to all kinds of abuses. I have a few posts in the queue discussing the IFB movement and pastor idolatry.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amen be like Jesus, not be like Mike. Don’t much about basketball although if I remember he announced his retirement from the NBA in 2001 on the morning of 9/11 (he would retire later that month). Strange to think the biggest news item that day would have probably been Jordan retiring…

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    1. What? You’re not watching “The Last Dance”?Just kidding! Jordan’s Bulls always beat my Knicks and blocked them from advancing in the playoffs. When Jordan took a year off to play baseball the Knicks were finally able to make it to the NBA championship series, but they lost. We definitely idolize our sports heroes in a big way and MJ received so much adulation.
      RE: Jordan and 9/11
      MJ had retired in 1999 but after two years it was rumored he was going to make a comeback. That was one of the gossip stories on 9/11. He finally did announce he would play again on 9/25. MJ donated all of his 2001/2002 salary to the relief fund for the victims of 9/11.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I had to google it myself. I know a lot about my favorite teams but not about all of the other teams and their players in the various leagues. America was inundated with MJ back in his playing days. I don’t think an athlete has captured the attention of the country since the way MJ did back in the 90s.

        Liked by 1 person

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