The first time I spoke with the G.O.A.T. was just over 20 years ago. I had seen Michael Jordan before on a basketball court and a baseball field, but never had been in a position to talk with him. It was in the last moments of evening, at a back entrance to the now closed Marriott in downtown Orlando.
I was in my second year of college, interning at the local television station, in the sports department. The on-air guys knew I was a Jordan fan, as we’d always talk hoops, them Orlando Magic and me Michael Jordan, haha. When the Bulls came to town one night, they asked me if I wanted to go out to get a sound bite (a short response from a player/coach) for tomorrow’s game.
My jaw dropped and my heart started pounding like bass in the trunk of cars those days.
The on-air guy was rewarding me with a dream opportunity, for my tireless work ethic – and free labor that I was providing to him and the department and I couldn’t have been more excited – and nervous.
For years I had watched every Bulls game WGN would telecast here in Orlando. All of the games on NBC during the weekends too. I knew a lot about Scottie, Phil, Steve, Dennis, Toni and of course MJ. The thought of being face to face with those guys, as a young man, was surreal for me.
Working in sports you know where things happen and you have access. I had none of that at the time, but was giddy to go along for the ride.
I stood along the sidewalk leading to a back entrance of the hotel, making small talk with the camera guy who was at least twice my age. Then, out of the darkness, pulled up the bus. The Chicago Bulls bus!!! It’s me, the camera guy, the night and the Chicago Bulls.
The Bulls PR guy jumped off the bus, walked over to me because I was the one with the mic, even though I looked like I was 12, and told me that we could shoot video, but to not ask the guys questions.
I said ok and he went on into the hotel. I then began asking every single person off the bus, for a quick comment on the game. Being timid wasn’t going to get the sound bite that I needed, so I went for it – MJ style.
One after the other the players filed past me, not stopping to answer. Phil Jackson did the same, but then realizing I was not going to stop, agreed to talk with me, most likely with the hope that it would free up Michael and Scottie. But Phil didn’t know about my focus:)
I spoke with Phil and then peeled off and went right back to asking questions, still no Michael, still no responses.
Randy Brown did respond, “Not right now little man,” obviously speaking to my youthful looks and not my size, as we are about the same height. But I wasn’t deterred.
Scottie got off, grabbed his bag and said nothing. I couldn’t say, man, I’ve been watching you for yearssss – that wouldn’t have been professional, and probably wouldn’t have mattered.
Then off the bus came the Gggggg Oooooo Aaaaaa Ttttt! You know the feeling the first time you walked up to a girl and asked her out? That nervous energy. For you young cats, there were no texts, you had to man up. Well, take that and multiply it by 100. I was hella nervous.
I grew up watching MJ! He was the reason I played and watched basketball. I wanted to be like Mike for real!
So towards the hotel he walked, and as poised as I could possibly manage, I walked beside Michael Jordan, raised the microphone to his face and asked, “Michael, can I get a quick comment on tomorrow’s game?”
Jordan’s eyes moved and focused on me and then I felt his hand gently lowering the mic, as he responded nearly inaudibly, “Not right now.”
I didn’t get the sound bite. I had failed.
Jordan entered the hotel and again it was the evening, myself and the camera guy – who immediately proclaimed, “Dude! Michael Jordan touched you!”
Thinking back on that I can’t help but laugh out loud at that comment, but it spoke to the reverence of Michael Jordan.
Michael Jordan doesn’t remember and has no clue that the little kid outside the hotel that night, in the medium polo shirt, was me. But he does know (me) vsMJ.com now and I’d like to think that he sees a little of his teachings in the way I approach things.
Anything Is Possible with Faith & Hard Work!
If you’re new here, I set out in August 2010 to get a game of 1-on-1 vs. my childhood hero Michael Jordan. This site is about that journey…through every valley, to every mountain top of triumph!
Anything Is Possible with Faith & Hard Work!
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