It’s completely understandable to fantasize about meshing different eras in sport. To wonder aloud just how well Bryce Harper would handle staring down Ron Guidry from the left side, or how easy Damian Lillard would have it handling pitching a runner in the lane over the top of Hakeem Olajuwon. The shelf life of sports legends is so slim that even two decades’ worth of space between generations is enough to feel like you’re comparing battles from differing centuries, so one can’t help but try and smush the timelines together.
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Now we’ve got a new one. Not only are we busting out the hypotheticals in order to wonder how stars of yore would have responded to the advancements that the modern athletic creature what it is today, but we’re also due to wonder how the creatures of the past would respond to the platforms that turn too many anonymous blowhards another sort of creature altogether.
In this instance, we’re talking about Michael Jordan vs. Twitter dot com.
Let’s make high speed internet available, full stop, in 1996 or so. Let’s put it in a phone. Let’s put it on a plane. Let’s put it, like so many other things designed to flame, on Michael Jordan’s mind. Let’s let the Chicago Bulls guard sign up for Twitter and just sift through the slights both perceived and real and see how the dude turns out.
Steve Kerr, current coach of the last two NBA MVPs in Golden State and teammate of Michael Jordan’s from the early spring of 1995 through June 1998, has an idea about how, exactly, the best of his or any other era would have handled the chance to glean motivation from 140 characters at a time:
Steve Kerr on how Michael Jordan would cope with Twitter noise: "There would have been so many more slights. He might have won more titles"
— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) October 14, 2016
Michael Jordan won six titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s. He won three from 1991 through 1993, then retired for myriad reasons mostly stemming from exhaustion, his ubiquity, and a lack of basketball motivation prior to returning to join up with Kerr in 1994-95. That season only produced a second round exit, and Jordan used that “failure,” in his eyes, to steel himself for a three-championship run in the years that followed.
The easy take is that Twitter, full of fans from 29 other NBA outposts that were ready to pounce, would provide some sort of ammunition for Jordan to feed on. This is the man that will never forgive nor forget the slights tossed his way by an ungodly assortment of hoped-for combatants not limited to Isiah Thomas, George Gervin, Pat Riley, Jeff Van Gundy, ABC’s 1989 fall television lineup, John Sununu, That Guy That Brought Our Food Out, or a tabby mix that wouldn’t stop glaring at him “one time in college.”
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Clearly, Michael Jordan didn’t lack for slights. This is the guy that got angry at George Karl once, for correctly suggesting that MJ shot more jumpers in his mid-30s than he did in his mid-20s, and decided to take it out on Karl in the form of 45 points on national TV, including a half-court (you guessed it) jump shot …
… the idea that Twitter would need to be added to the canon seems a little silly lo, these many years later, but this is who Jordan was and is. Even for someone like Michael Jordan, 82 games can run a little long, and 100 games toward championship glory can still drag on.
So why wouldn’t he want to pull up the phone to see what @ERecasner5 had to say earlier that afternoon?
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