Michael Jordan. The man personified the NBA throughout the 1990s and is still heralded as the greatest basketball player of all time. His Airness has more NBA championship rings than one hand can hold. He was the five-time league MVP. He made bald beautiful and coming out of retirement fashionable before Brett Favre or Jay-Z.
His tongue-out dunks have been imitated by streetballers across the globe. His leap is iconic. He’s a physical marvel, superhuman, immortalized by his achievements, endorsements, and bewilderments. He has conquered the number 23 through hard work, an astounding record, and brilliant branding. He’s the hottest sneaker, the leader of The Dream Team, and the original G.
But he’s still got some work to do since he’s not even the best Michael Jordan of all time.
Some of you also may recognize his prominent jaw, and the rest of his face, as Wallace from Season One of The Wire.
I met the better MJ last night while storming the aisles at the Chinatown Safeway, improvising my way to making Rice Krispies Treats from off-brand ‘Crispy Rice.’ I patrolled the back corridor, hurriedly searching for marshmallows, my friend Mel flanking me as I rushed past an adorable gentleman, only turning back because I’m a competitive loser who likes being faster than all moving objects, including grandparents and grocery shoppers.
In an instant, my neurons fired 764 questions. Wait, that’s him, right? Am I crazy? Is anyone else seeing this? Is this real life? Why’s he in DC? WHAT’S HIS REAL NAME?! Is his name Vince? Should I touch him? Is that the dumbest instinct I’ve ever had? Does he know where I can find the marshmallows?
After living in LA (South Central, let’s not pretend I was fancy and glamorous) and walking the halls as an unimportant intern on Capitol Hill, I can sincerely say that I’m not one for getting starstruck. It’s just not my thing. But I do get stupid and excited when I see something unexpected that I really really like. Like Michael B. Jordan.
So there I am, staring dumbly at my new favorite character from my favorite television series. Finally, I managed to blurt a startled/startling “HEY!” at him.
A brilliant smile lit up his face and he responded with a much more subtle, but still enthusiastic “Hey!”
The next ten seconds passed in a blink, as we exchanged the following words, which could have been written and illustrated by first graders:
“I’m a very big fan.”
“Oh, I will!”
I’m posting this not really to brag or to gloat, but because I’m genuinely excited. Because not only do I love both The Wire and Friday Night Lights, but also because I have been captivated by the characters that Michael B. Jordan has played in both. He plays the wholesome black adolescent facing adversity, cornered in the realistic dilemmas between short and long-term gains. You root for him to do right by do right, and you understand him. But moreover, you just want to get in his corner and fight for him.
Also, between his lean eyes and perfectly straight nose, Michael B. Jordan looks like a younger, more athletic Pharrell.
As many of you know, I’m not very good at emotions. But this kid is able to pull my heartstrings until they play a symphony. He’s a beautiful talent, a star on the ascent, and a smart shopper.
Clear eyes, full carts, can’t lose.
As football season kicks up, I recommend starting from Season 1, Episode 1 of Friday Night Lights and letting it fill your time between Monday Night Football and college gameday. New episodes of the final season (Season 5) will air on NBC in the spring, but you can now watch in syndication on ABC Family at 6pm. If you don’t know, now you know.