It was June, 1998 and I was situated in front of an old television watching the Chicago Bulls battle the Utah Jazz in the NBA Finals. I was enraptured my Michael Jordan, his persona, class, charisma. Comeback number two was solidified, his legacy enshrined by the public and the overwhelming statistics. Enchanted. Jordan retired for the second time after that infamous Shot, often called the Shot #2. It devastated Karl Malone and John Stockton’s shot at the championship in their aging careers. They were incapable of amounting a similar chance again, and the public knew it and they did as well.
Jordan had it all. But by what measure or in what sense or metric did he have it all? In Matthew 16:26, Jesus states boldly, “For what good will it be for a man to inherit the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” And since that shot the public persona and image has shown the emptiness, ugliness, arrogance, lack of empathy, lack of class, the lack of many of the characteristics that Jordan hoodwinked us all with. We caught a glimpse of it at his Hall-Of-Fame induction speech, which as a fan, loved seeing the tongue-and-cheek personality unguarded. A truer Michael. We see it as his competitive nature turns to anger and tactful remarks about his current team (Charlotte Bobcats) that he now owns.
However, the emptiness that befalls the greatest of the greats upon leaving their support drives many into darker realms. Too often the hunger persuades their aging bodies to take to the floor well-past their time and sadly, we are left with a stark contrast, skeleton, of the skills we once adored. Nothing fills the void driven by their competitive natures, once filled by their athletic endeavors as the spotlight that once poured out on their sweating skin now leaves, but shines far deeper within.
So would you like to be like Mike? Would the money and fame cure your emptiness, save your marriages, rebuild your relationships with your children, etc.? Or how about Tiger? Would that cure your hunger and satiate your appetites? They say no, as evidenced as their faults that pour out into the public arena. They remind us that when elevated to a higher social class does nothing to eradicate the deep hunger, longing, and emptiness that they feel, an emptiness that I assure you, can only be filled by the blood of Jesus Christ (see Romans 1:21-32).
I pour out my heart and feel tremendous compassion toward Mike, I do thank him for the memories, but I don’t envy his status or emptiness that he has and faces daily. He took a different drug from myself, but in either case, we both came out empty. May God bring him the love and peace (Phil 4:6-7) that He has poured into me.