By Joseph Kellard
Michael Jordan was inducted in the Hall of Fame on Friday night. His speech stood out.
Sports fans know all too well the anti-individualist bromide: "There's no 'I' in 'team.'" Well, Jordan challenged such so-called wisdom. During his speech, he told a story about one of his coaches. "I could never please Tex … I can remember a game … we were down five or 10 points, and I go off for about 25 points and we come back and win the game. And we're walking off the floor and Tex looked at me and said, 'You know, there's no 'I' in 'team.' I said, 'Tex, there's no 'I' in 'team,' but there's 'I' in 'win.'"
(The audience applauded and laughed -- as if to say: how bold.)
"I think he got my message: I'll do anything to win. If that means we play team format, we win, if that means I have to do whatever I have to do, we're going to win."
As Jordan described his love of basketball, he said: "It's provided me with a platform to share my passion with millions in a way that I neither expected nor could have imagined in my career. I hope that it's given the millions of people that I've touched the optimism and desire to achieve their goals through hard work, perseverance and a positive attitude."
The 46-year-old concluded as follows: "One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50." (The crowd chuckled.) "Oh, don't laugh. Never say 'never.' Because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion."
With this, I was reminded of Andrew Bernstein's 1998 ARI op-ed entitled "What Young People Really Need: Not Volunteerism but Happiness and Heroes":
"What do you think young people find more inspiring: the sight of Jimmy Carter building churches in the jungles of Guatemala, or the vision of Michael Jordan soaring through the air, winning championships and earning millions, then flashing his joyous, brilliant, life-giving smile? The truth is that Michael Jordan's extraordinary success has inspired far more young people, poor, middle-class or rich, black, white or Asian, to strive for their own dreams than an army of social workers could ever think possible. As Ayn Rand puts it in Atlas Shrugged, 'The sight of an achievement is the greatest gift that a human being could offer to others.'"