2011 NBA Finals: Winning Changes Everything

“I don’t want him on my team, I don’t like his character.” – Anonymous friend talking about [a fictitious trade for] Lebron James

The comparisons of Lebron James to Michael Jordan have been overblown, overused, and overrated. Fact of the matter is, MJ won and Lebron (to date) has not. But as much as we salivate over MJ's highlights and accomplishments, these comparisons are starting to get old. And if we are to make comparisons (of one man's character to another), then we need to look at MJ as a whole. I think we have forgotten who Michael Jordan was. Yes, he was a stone cold killer on the court. But off the court, he wasn’t the clean image we see in the Hanes commercials.

MJ manipulated the media as well as the NBA. After Magic and Bird left, the NBA needed him more then he needed the NBA. It wasn't Shawn Kemp's league (how many kids does this man have?), Patrick Ewing's league, or Charles Barkley's league (that's turrble). It was Mike's. He stood alone. He sold tickets, jerseys, newspapers, and the like. The NBA, the Chicago Bulls, and the media protected Jordan from his indiscretions: the gambling, the punching of teammates, and the perusing of women.

Let’s not be naïve. We give MJ a hall pass because he got us 6 banners. Let us continue to pretend like these things didn’t happen. He didn’t cheat on his wife, he didn’t punch his teammates, he didn’t gamble (even during the playoffs), he didn’t make bad movies, and he doesn't have an AWFUL moustache (c'mon, Mike). Nope. Never happened.

We look the other way for Mike because...he won. There's the double standard.

Honestly, is he any different than Brett Favre, Plaxico Burress, Ray Lewis, or Tiger Woods. All of these athletes have committed heinous indiscretions, yet we, the fans, look the other way.

Don't get this twisted. I’m not “Anti-Mike”. I still think he’s the greatest player... ever.

But I understand what winning does. It changes things. It changes everything, even the truth. Winning can turn enemies into friends (or frenemies), goats into heroes, and harsh critics into raving supporters — and winning can make indiscretions fade away like a 20-foot jumper.

It's just too bad Lebron hasn't learned how to hit this jump shot yet.

(Image courtesy of: Steve Lipofsky)

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