SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The tears tumbled, flooding his face and Michael Jordan had yet to march to the microphone at Symphony Hall. He had listened to the genuine stories and speeches of a remarkable class. He had watched a “This is Your Life” video compilation of his basketball genius. Everything flashed before him, a legacy that he’s fought with body and soul to never, ever let go into yesterday.
Yes, Michael Jordan was still fighting it on Friday night, and maybe he always will. Mostly, he was crying over the passing of that old Jordan, and it wouldn’t be long until he climbed out of his suit and back into his uniform and shorts, back into an adolescent act that’s turned so tedious.
This wasn’t a Hall of Fame induction speech, but a bully tripping nerds with lunch trays in the school cafeteria. He had a responsibility to his standing in history, to players past and present, and he let everyone down. This was a night to leave behind the petty grievances and past slights – real and imagined. This was a night to be gracious, to be generous with praise and credit.