Friday, November 13

To Ponder

A short follow-up on the ridiculousness of LeBron James' quasi-demand that the NBA retire Michael Jordan's #23:

What about the four guys who have had #23 retired in their honor by their teams? I'm speaking of Lou Hudson (Atlanta), Calvin Murphy (Houston), Frank Ramsey (Boston), and John Williamson (New Jersey).

Of course, Williamson died of kidney disease due to diabetes 13 years ago, so I guess he won't complain much, and Murphy's had all sorts of off-court problems that help to keep him quiet, Hudson might have scored 18,000 points but LeBron never saw him play, so it didn't really count, right, and, sure, Ramsey made the Hall of Fame, but he was just a sixth man, really, and besides, the Celtics have too many retired jerseys anyways (okay, that last one actually makes some sense).

Can you tell that I'm bugged about this whole thing? Normally, it wouldn't be worth mentioning, but James has such power in the league right now, this idea might take off, regardless of how stupid it is. Retiring Jackie Robinson's jersey made sense, somewhat, because it was a way for baseball to atone for its past sins.

But why do we need to honor Jordan any more than Wilt, or Kareem, or Magic, or Bird, or Mikan, or anybody else in the upper echelons of greatness? Because LeBron watched Jordan as a kid, now the Warriors have to retire his jersey? Should the NFL retire Jim Brown's jersey league-wide because he was the best player ever?

To me, a better way of accomplishing this would be to go the way of the NHL and rename the trophies the league hands out at the end of the year. Call it the Chamberlain Award (MVP), or the Russell Award (defense), or the Jordan Award (offensive player of the year), or whatever. Keep those ideas on a league-wide basis, and leave the jersey retirements to the teams.

It was stupid enough for the Heat to retire Jordan's jersey a few years ago. Don't compound that idiocy on a league-wide scale.

15 comments:

JAS said...

Tommy Craggs wrote a while back that having a sense of history in basketball means owning a pair of throwback Air Maxes.

Paul Merrill said...

Well said!

nuss said...

That nails it for me - it's fine that LBJ feels that way about Jordan, and it makes a lot of sense considering his age ... but it wasn't as if he just spontaneously said what he said. Brian Windhorst reported that when James was talking, it was clearly something he had been thinking about for a long time. Luckily, it seems like the league is distancing itself from this idea, saying it's completely up to the teams to decide which jerseys to retire, which is exactly the right idea.

Anonymous said...

Miami Heat retired #23? And not for Harold Minor but for MJ?/sarcasm/ Whoa..First I've heard of this..how idiotic..

I know MJ was one of the best ever but he was far from being a pioneer like Jackie Robinson..If NBA does go ahead with this retirement then the league really has become a joke.

Mark centz said...

"Wilt, or Kareem, or Magic, or Bird, or Mikan, or anybody else in the upper echelons of greatness? "

Hey! If you're going to list the all time greats, don't leave out former Sonic Bill Russell, the greatest player of all time to some of us.

Otherwise, outstanding post.

JAS said...

A more comparable analogy than baseball retiring Jackie Robinson’s number would be the NHL retiring Wayne Gretzky’s number upon his retirement in 1999. If this had been suggested right after one of Jordan’s retirements sentiment might have been more on the side of doing it. I think the idea that he was so much better than any player before or since has been diminished a bit with the passage of time (I do think he is the best player ever, but I don’t think it’s an open-and-shut case).
This whole thing seems a little contrived on LeBron’s part. He wears 23 for six years and then decides that nobody in the NBA should wear it? Why wasn’t he so reverential towards the number when he first came in the league? Makes you wonder if this isn’t just a ploy to keep his name in the news and sell merchandise (not that he was having trouble in either of those endeavors to start with).

ryan said...

I'm with JAS on this one - but then I think everything Nike does is a giant conspiracy to sell more shoes.

haizman_brain said...

The Thunder should retire Pat Ewing's number.

Maybe teams can start using letters or HEX values...

James in Enumclaw said...

I think they should retire Wally Walker's suit - with him in it. He did as much to bring the team to OKC as anybody else.

Frickin' Vin Baker trade ...

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