Jordan - the greatest athlete ever?
This one is a no-brainer. If he's not the greatest basketball player ever (as I have proven), then he sure as heck isn't the greatest athlete ever. ESPN claimed he was the greatest athlete of the twentieth century -- excuse me while I laugh -- but that just isn't the truth.
ESPN was as prone to hype and endorsements as most Jordan-supporters. After all, who supported Jordan's #1-ranked sports biography? Jordan's clothing company. Wow. Now, that's unbiased. I wonder how much money Nike pays them each year in advertising.
I've had folks write and claim these people are experts. Experts? Dick Schapp pointed out that around 1950, a vote was taken for the greatest athlete of the first 50 years. Jim Thorpe was voted #1. However, in 1999, Thorpe was voted behind Babe Ruth (Ruth - #2 and Thorpe - #6). How many of these "experts" in 1999 saw either Thorpe or Ruth play? Now, how can they be "experts", when the writers 50 years ago saw them both play? Answer: the 1999 writers follow hype, myth, and "legend."
Why would Jordan be considered the greatest athlete? Let's look at some criteria:
Athleticism? Hardly! Jordan's not even possessing the most athleticism out of basketball players. Allen Iverson is more athletic than him. Wilt Chamberlain was a track star in college (Conference champion in the high jump and national champion in the shot put). His vertical leap was higher than Jordan's, and he was faster and the strongest man to ever play basketball. Carl Lewis, Jim Thorpe, Babe Didrickson-Zaharus, and Bo Jackson were all more athletic than Jordan.
Winning? Sorry. Put Rocky Marciano and Bill Russell at the top.
Dominated the most areas of his sport? Sorry. Try guys like Barry Bonds, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, Wilt Chamberlain, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, and Walter Payton ahead of Jordan.
Broke the most records? Wilt Chamberlain and Wayne Gretsky are far, far ahead of Jordan.
Impact on sport? Jackie Robinson. 'Nuff said.
What category puts Jordan at the top? Endorsement money. But in that case, Arnold Palmer was #2. Furthmore, this proves ESPN list is hype-driven and would also prove Jordan isn't the greatest athlete, but rather that greatest advertising pitchman. Jordan didn't change the game of basketball. He didn't dominate the championships (6 in 8 years is chump change compared to Russell). I have challenged Jordan fans to give me a criteria for basing it. His combination of individual accomplishment, records, and championships are behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. So why is he #1? Because he is a pop-culture icon, not the greatest athlete. Just because ESPN says he's the best doesn't mean it, because nobody has yet to define why he's the best.
How about a comparison between Jordan and Babe Didrickson-Zaharus.
Track: Jordan has nothing to show, because Jordan's speed wasn't enough and his jumping ability was the product of Nike. Nike wants you to think different, but hype and commercials cannot stand up to the unbiased eye of a clock or a measuring tape, which is why he couldn't compete in the Olympic arena in these areas. I proved that his dunk contest championship in 1988 was a joke, and simply the product of hype, much like his athleticism is, in general.
Babe entered 8 out of 10 events in the National AAU track meet. Of those 8, she won 5 of them outright and tied for first in a 6th event. She won 2 gold medals in the Olympics, and lost the 3rd on a technicality. Because she was a pro golfer afterward, she was not allowed to compete in any more Olympic games, or who knows how many more she would have won?
Baseball: Jordan was a miserable failure in MINOR LEAGUE baseball. He flirted with the Mendoza line (that means he barely hit .200). Sports Illustrated wrote an article about his inability to play baseball and the cover said "Bag it, Michael." Jordan got into such a snit, that he never talked to the magazine again. The analysis from baseball scouts on Jordan was that he was a rag-armed, weak-hitter trying to play a position that generally requires both. Jordan was a decent high school pitcher, but there's a difference between the men and the boys. What about Babe?
Babe PITCHED in several MAJOR LEAGUE exhibition games. Babe pitched against the big boys. Jordan sucked against the little boys.
Golf: Jordan likes to brag about his golfing prowess, but we see that he's simply a weekend hacker. He has as much chance at getting his [PGA] tour card as you and I do. Yeah, he golfs with Tiger Woods (and loses), but hey -- if I play soccer and get my @ss kicked by Pele, does that mean I'm a great soccer player? Jordan talks a big talk about joining the tour...and well, if his competitive drive were as great as advertised (emphasis on ADVERTISED), then he'd already be on the tour. What about Babe?
Babe won 82 amateur and PROFESSIONAL tournaments, including majors. She came back after having been treated for cancer and WON another major. This dwarfs Jordan's little "flu game" (in which he never had the flu, but said he was "under the weather." That is, unless you believe that Jordan is such a modern miracle that he can completely conquer influenza in 2 days, in which case, you've never had the flu.)
Advantage: Do I need to say?
Basketball: OK, the Jordan fans are going to say that he's one of the all-time greats (though I've proven he's not the greatest). Babe was never able to prove herself on the professional ground, because the WNBA, nor the NBA, nor the NBL (National Basketball League), nor the BAA (Basketball Association of America - the latter 2 were predecessors to the NBA) existed when she played. We do have their college careers as a comparative measuring stick: Both played 3 years, and Jordan was a 2 time All-American, and Babe was a 3 time All-American. Perhaps she could have proven that she was the greatest woman player ever if she had the stage to display it on.
Other sports: What does Jordan do? Nothing. What did Babe do? Babe won championships in billiards, cycling, shooting, speed skating, squash, swimming, and tennis.
Who is the greatest North American Athlete of the 20th century?
Whether or not you think she's #1, you have to admit that she's ahead of
Jordan, yet ESPN only put her at #10. Probably because she didn't have her own brand
of tennis shoe.