I’ve heard it said that one should never meet their heroes. I believe there is some truth to this, as it does diminish some of the mystique surrounding their persona. However, as a 14-year-old boy I did meet one of my heroes and it something that I will remember for a lifetime.
It was Saturday, January 11, 1992. I awoke at 9 a.m. and was hardly able to contain my excitement about the day’s events. I got dressed, did some last-minute packing, and then walked out of the house to get into the car. As the car pulled out of the driveway, my family and I were filled with anticipation as we began our drive toward Chicago.
Our immediate destination was the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago. Upon our arrival at the Hyatt we were greeted by a doorman who took our bags and escorted us to our complimentary room. After depositing our bags in the room, we went off for a walking tour of the area and to get a bite to eat.
It was an enjoyable afternoon taking in the sights and sounds of the “Windy City.” Our walk took us a few blocks south of our hotel, before we stopped and ate lunch, which was also compliments of our hosts for the weekend. As we left the restaurant, we decided to go back to the Hyatt to rest up for the events that were to occur that evening.
At 5 p.m. we left our hotel room to go down and get a taxi that would take us to our much anticipated event. After a brief ride, we were there! We were standing outside the Chicago Stadium where my family and I were to be Michael Jordan’s guests for the evening.
I felt rather important as we entered the stadium through the doors which the players entered each night. While were waiting for our escort, we saw John Paxson and B.J. Armstrong enter and head toward the locker room.
When our escort arrived, we were given VIP passes and were led out onto the floor. How exciting it was to be walking right next to the court! On the floor the Luvabulls (cheerleaders) were warming up, camera men were preparing their gear for the night, and Bill Cartwright was practicing lay-ups. Soon we were joined by another staff person who worked for the Chicago Bulls. This individual escorted us down to the locker room.
As we were making our way toward the locker room, we walked past several other players and the Bulls mascot, Benny the Bull. He was standing just outside the locker room door. The one we were about to enter!
As we entered the locker room, my legs felt just like rubber because there sat Michael Jordan along with Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen. Michael greeted me with a handshake and there were introductions all around. We visited for a few minutes while Michael and the rest of the starting five signed some basketball cards and other memorabilia for me. Game time was rapidly approaching, so we had to return to the arena to find our seats. I was privileged to have a seat at the end of the Bulls’ bench.
Throughout the game a few of the players talked to me and made me feel like one of the guys. As the game ended, I realized that this was an evening I would never forget as long as I live.
Just this past week Lebron James surpassed Michael Jordan on the list of the NBA’s top career scoring leaders. There has been much debate as to whether Lebron or Michael should be deemed the greatest of all time. In my opinion there is no contest, Michael will always be the greatest. Now if I could just sell all of those unopened Wheaties boxes with his face on them that I have stored in my basement. Anyone interested?