TITLE: The Cost Of Perfection 1/13/15
By Zacharia Fox
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
SEND ARTICLE TO A FRIEND
Micheal’s team brought the ball up court, and set a sloppy screen.
“Don’t take that shot,” he muttered. The ball rimmed out before the Celtics snatched the rebound from his team, the Bobcats. “Come on guys, box out!” he said a little louder.
“Now don’t start throwing things, Micheal. It’s unbecoming of an old man,” his co-owner, Don, said with a chuckle. Micheal Jordan barely heard him. He was zoned into the game two-hundred feet below on the court.
His old companion, that hunger for victory, was feeding the fire in his gut. Thirty years ago, he’d asked for it, chased it, and during the season he’d felt most alive, gloried in its presence. He’d needed it when he broke his leg his second year in the NBA, and when he clawed his way back to the championship after his experiment in baseball. But at fifty, Jordan was haunted by a competitive desire, forever demanding, “Win.”
The Celtics hit a three as his team failed to match up in transition. “Come on!” Jordan hollered. “I’m going down stairs.”
“Keep it civil,” Don called as Jordan left the box.
Watching the game with the executives always gnawed at him. His role as owner left that old companion perpetually unsatisfied, and him out of sync with his former self. Maybe he could curb the craving, if he could just be court-side.
As he walked from the locker-room tunnel into the stadium lights, the familiar buzz of the crowd only fueled the fire in his belly. “It’s Jordan!” he heard, without offering even a cursory glance. His team, lost the ball on a wild pass, and his jaw clenched as he walked to the edge of the court.
He heard the ball pound the floor, and his fingers tingled, aching to be the one controlling it. The cruelest twist of fate, was that the need to win that had once propelled him to the summit of triumph, now only taunted his aging body.
How had he, Micheal Jordan, master of the game, been reduced to a spectator by something as mundane as age? He’d been in far too good of shape, with far too much success to be subdued by something as common as time. But Father Time was perhaps, the only one as driven as Jordan, and time was not on Jordan’s side.
People have often said that ‘the will to win’ has a switch you can flip on and off, but those talking heads only guessed at something he knew intimately. There was no switch. It seems the cost of perfection, is that you’re no longer normal. Even without a game left to play, twenty years adrift from his prime, his old companion raged, “Win!”
He glanced at his oxfords, as they flirted with the out-of-bounds line, wishing they were high-tops sporting his silhouette. What he would give, to step over that line and play the game one more time.
That now insufferable competitiveness baited him. “You could do it. You could get back in shape, and show these kids how the game was meant to be played. Silence the critics and show Lebron what you already know.” Nothing begged him to come back to the game more than shameful comparisons to players who wouldn’t have measured up in his day.
He glanced at the clock. A minute and a half left. He knew the game was over, but he couldn’t turn it off. His heart quickened as he remembered coming down the court with a few seconds left, ball in hand knowing he would decide the game. But today, on this court, all he could do was watch, want and occasionally yell.
The Celtics knocked the ball loose, just as his team passed it inside the paint. Jordan threw his arms up and bellowed, “That was a foul ref! Quit playing favorites! Ref, you know it was a foul.” The ref pretended not to hear, but Jordan saw through the mask. He could always read a person’s mail. “Get it right ref.”
Jordan nudged the out-of-bounds line with his shoe and barely grinned. “You can still beat ‘em,” his old companion whispered. “You’re still the greatest.” He edged his foot across the line, onto the court, and smiled.
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.