If I Could Be Like Mike

Last night I finished watching “The Last Dance.” This is a documentary miniseries co-produced by ESPN Films and Netflix. This 10-part series centers on the career of Michael Jordan. In particular, the film focuses on Jordan’s final season with the Chicago Bulls.

For those of you who may not know who Michael Jordan is, he was a professional basketball player who is considered by many to be the greatest to have ever played the game. He was a person that I idolized when I was younger. I was fortunate enough to meet him when I was 12 years old. This was a thrill of a lifetime.

Watching “The Last Dance” for me was a particular treat, as it brought back many of the memories that I have of watching the Chicago Bulls in the 1990’s. They were an exciting team to watch. I feel lucky to have seen them play live at the Chicago Stadium before it demolished in 1995. The stadium was aptly nicknamed “The Madhouse on Madison.” This is perhaps the loudest place I have ever been.

It held just a little over 18,000 people for basketball games, which is quite small compared to the stadiums of today. However, when the Bulls were playing the building shook as fans stomped their feet and roared with excitement. There were times when it seemed as if the place might just crumble into a heap as a result of the noise coming from the crowd. I relived some of this excitement as I watched “The Last Dance.” I also felt proud to be a fan once again.

Michael Jordan is human being. He has faults, as we all do. He has been criticized by some for his overly-competitive nature. It is true that he was cruel to some of his teammates and competitors. However, I appreciate the drive that he had. He sought perfection in everything that he did. This is something that I admire. It is a quality that I long to see in myself at times. I’d like to be driven enough to eat healthier, to exercise as I should, and to practice other habits that I know would improve my quality of life.

I am aware that it is unhealthy to compare yourself to others. However, I think we can look at others and learn from the examples they have set. Michael Jordan was focused on excellence in his professional life. He worked on improving his skills every day. This is something that I think we all can do. Jordan has not always been successful at everything he has tried. For instance, his foray into professional baseball lasted only a short time. Despite these failures, Michael Jordan never stopped striving to become better.

Despite his faults, Michael Jordan is someone that I look to as a hero. He played his sport to the best of his ability. Furthermore, he drove others to perform at their highest level. I find that inspiring.

Saturdays

For as long as I can remember, Saturday has been my favorite day of the week. When I was a little boy I’d get up early and watch cartoons. I’d grab a pillow and a blanket and bed down on the living room floor and lay in front of the TV for hours. After cartoons would finish it was on to This Week in Baseball. I loved to get a behind the scenes look of my favorite players each week. Perhaps the best part of this show, however, was the host, Mel Allen.

Mel Allen was a sports broadcaster who was born in Alabama, so he spoke with a distinct Southern drawl. His voice was warm and very welcoming. It made Saturday mornings more cozy hearing him deliver highlights from around the world of baseball each week. I miss those carefree days. However, there is still nothing like a Saturday morning.

As I write this I am drinking some coffee and enjoying hearing the sounds around the house. Amanda’s parents are in town this weekend. So, grandma is holding Baby Boy as he giggles. Amanda and her dad are putting a puzzle together at the dining room table. I am in the kitchen feeling nostalgic for my 1980’s childhood.

I am 43 now, the cartoons I enjoyed as a kid are still available through various streaming services. However, I have not been able to find This Week in Baseball. I’d love to be able to relive some of those moments from my childhood with Mel Allen. I suppose there might be some episodes on YouTube. I’ll have to see.

Hopefully, by the end of this month baseball will have returned to the airwaves, as players are preparing to begin a shortened season. It looks as if quite a few players are opting not to play. Therefore, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if things truly get underway.

I wonder what an episode of This Week in Baseball would look like today. I am sure players would be wearing masks as they were being interviewed. Highlights from the games would show nearly empty stadiums, as fans would not be allowed through the gates to watch the action in person. The voice of Mel Allen would not be there, as he has been gone since 2013. I am glad I have memories of those simpler times.

Life is still good. There are so many things to be thankful for each day. However, I truly miss some of the things that I once knew and loved. Lazy Saturday mornings are still here. They would just be a little sweeter if I could hear the voice of Mel Allen coming through the TV speakers, while clips of Ozzie Smith performing some of his “wizardry” played alongside Mel’s commentary. Those were the days.

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