I attended the annual ceremony in which the year's new basketball Hall of Famers were announced. Surprising no one, Michael Jordan was one of those chosen in his first year of eligibility. Along with Jordan, John Stockton, David Robinson, Jerry Sloan, and coach C. Vivian Stringer comprised the class of 2009.
Sportswriters aren't supposed to get excited around athletes. They're supposed to act blasé, but I didn't see a lot of blasé-ishness when it came to Jordan. Grizzled reporters asked for autographs and photos, you know, for their "kids."
Except for Michael Jordan, all of the soon-to-be-inducted members expressed how thrilled they were to be there. While he was grateful for the honor, M.J. talked about some ambivalence, for the honor implied to him his playing days were definitely over. He thought it would be more appropriate for people to be elected to the Hall of Fame when they were in "their 70s," when they could no longer tell themselves that all they had to do is put on a pair shorts and get out on the court and compete.
The others who've retired from basketball seemed to have moved on with their lives. They appeared to have adjusted fairly well to life after basketball. Not Michael Jordan. He freely admitted he missed the competition, and golf was not satisfying his competitive addiction.
Jordan's penchant for competition was obvious at the ceremony. When M.C. Jim Nantz kiddingly told the former North Carolina star that if tonight's championship game is tied after regulation, instead of overtime, it was decided that Jordan should play Michigan State's Magic Johnson one-on-one to decide the outcome, Jordan laughed, "Are you kidding me? That's no problem. Magic's never beaten me in a Final."
I asked Michael a question at the ceremony. I wanted to know what it was like for him to watch his kids play basketball and what it was like for them to play with him watching. Obviously, I said, some of us fathers didn't have the exact kind of basketball career that he did.
He replied that he didn't think it was all that different from any other parent watching his or her kids play. One major difference was that he's aware that people at the games constantly look at him to see how he reacts to the game, so he has had to control his reactions. But overall, he said that you get as much joy and just as much pride out of the experience as anybody else.
However, he then told this anecdote: His younger son, Marcus, was on the team that recently won the Illinois state high school basketball championship. Michael said he was very proud. There are even reports that he cried. After winning, Marcus pointed out to him that he had won something that Michael never had -- a state championship. Michael told us that he answered, "That's true. But I won a lot of things later on in my career."
He said his point was his son shouldn't be satisfied, and he should continue to strive to accomplish things whether in basketball or in the rest of his life. But it sure also sounded like the old man was competing with his son.
I was tempted to bet Michael that I can type faster than he can. But I held back. I figured, considering his drive, by next year, he'd be one of the fastest typists in the world.
Thank Lloyd Garver of CBSSports.com for the story.