In Part Four, I examined the discovery of yin/yang relationship through confrontation; using Allen Iverson and Ray Allen as the lead example. For the fifth installment, I will examine the player that made it possible to achieve equal basketball yin/yang harmony in one's self, without having another being as a complimentary force. More after the pic...
It's February 17th, Michael Jordan's birthday. As a semi-spoiler, I was saving him for the final piece in this series because of his perfectly equal mixture of uniqueness and discipline. But this is his day, and it would be coincidentally appropriate to let him be the turning point in my saga. What is the new direction, you say? Well, you'll just have to keep reading, now won't you?
The interesting thing about Jordan when it comes to every other player in history is that he has become the separator of Basketball Old and Basketball New. Jerry West may be The Logo, and Bill Russell is the sport's Ultimate Winner, but His Airness is the Christ-like landmark in the hoops timeline.
In my series, I have designated a player as a yin or yang. But no player can be fully one or the other because of the individuality of Basketball. Each person's configuration is unique to him and can never be duplicated. As I said, Jordan is the water in the pH balance scale. He was a perfectionist with pure footwork on both ends of the floor, but able to adjust on his whim—whether mid-air or mid-dribble.
His ideal fusion of yin and yang were one of his gifts and curses to Basketball (I'll examine the other one in a future post). He made it plausible for upcoming players to concentrate on both components of their configuration in hopes of achieving equal balance. This is a blessing for those that are able to handle the strain that comes with it. However, only Kobe Bryant has been able to withstand the journey of His Airness' Road Less Traveled and emerge successful. From Vince Carter to Harold Miner to Jerry Stackhouse, those that have fallen under that "next MJ" tag have been labeled as flawed because of it. It's nearly impossible to do because while someone like Kobe has Jordan as the blueprint, he would have to sacrifice his own individuality to follow it, thus hindering the perception of his place in the Basketball Realm. He becomes more cerebral and multi-faceted at a quicker pace, but loses some of the mystique that comes with being an unadulterated individual.
So far, one man—with one still teetering with the scales—has harnessed the two forces inside him and does not need another being as his compliment. Happy Birthday, Your Airness.