Michael Jordan had a dad

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James Jordan was a serviceman and then a textile worker. He studied mechanics under the G.I. Bill and married the former Deloris Peoples. They loved their children.
One son was athletic. James taught and encouraged him. In baseball the kid was good, but in basketball he was extraordinary.

After the son grew up, James was murdered as he slept in his car alongside a highway on a road trip. His body was dumped in a swamp and recovered 10 days later, badly decomposed and identifiable only by dental records. His murderers looted his car.

Among the items the murderer’s stole were two NBA Championship rings given James by that son, Michael.

MJ lives in rarified air with Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretzky and Pele. He’s one of the very greatest.

An ESPN and Netflix series is out, called “The Last Dance,” about Michael Jordan and his team, the Chicago Bulls. It’s extensively researched and based in part on exclusive video of the 1997-98 season when the Bulls won their sixth NBA Championship in eight years.

The series describes MJ’s close relationship with his dad. His dad was a friend, a confidant and, most important, a father to a son who could have gone bad.

I admire MJ. Not for being a nice guy – I’ve never met him (though I met his coach Phil Jackson who is accomplished and interesting, and I don’t mean that in a bad way) and I suspect that like most achievers he can be difficult. The series so suggests.

What I admire about him is his commitment to excel, and his ability to persuade the people around him do the same by both his example and his demands. All that and — Holy Smokes! — the guy could play the game.

I believe God created us in his image. We can’t be God himself but it is our duty and privilege to resemble his image as best we can, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. MJ isn’t perfect but in at least his chosen field he was nearly so. And he did it his way.

I’m guessing that he, like most such people, learned that from his dad, James. His dad treated him like his life mattered. Long before a person comes to know God, his dad is his God.  

Ali, Gretzky and Pele had dads too. Perhaps significantly, LeBron James did not. Interesting how that works.

MJ is now a dad to his own children. They’ll never match him in the game of basketball – maybe nobody ever will – but with Michael’s fathering that he learned from his own father, James, they have a fair chance to match him in the game of life. And someday his sons will be good fathers to Michael’s grandsons.

They all know that, to their dads, their lives matter. That – not slogans and identity politics – makes all the difference.

11 thoughts on “Michael Jordan had a dad

  1. The family is the basic building block of society. The way LBJ and the Democrat Congress structured welfare (“The War on Poverty”) tore apart millions of Black American families, leaving millions of young Blacks fatherless. Since there is a strong correlation between coming from a fatherless home and juvenile delinquency, of course the crime rates in our inner cities are high. For eight years I waited for Barack Obama to tell young Black men to marry their women and stay to raise their children. (To my knowledge, Obama said it once, during a Black college commencement address.)

    • We are curious to know how you could wait eight years for the supreme pig, Barack Hussein Obama, “to tell young Black men to marry their women and stay to raise their children,” when you know, or should know, that Barack Hussein Obama is a common two-dollar whore–forget that he is lib/lefty/”progressive”/Democrat jackass–who is incapable of telling “young Black men” anything resembling adherance to natural law, or even to common sense and common decency, unless the telling did not gain him another advance over the relatively poor perspectives of what his Constitutional law “professorship” at Whorehouse University, and what Michelle’s $300,000 a year “remuneration” from her no-show job at a Chicago hospital, and what his miserable presidential income could eventually provide. And, sadly, he was correct in his calculations.
      But, heck, let’s go to Martha’s Vineyard or Hawaii and ask him about all of this. Maybe I’m wrong.

      • Obama was never a professor. He was a part-time lecturer at the University of Chicago who was permitted to teach seminar courses on “Current Issues in Racism and the Law”. If the seminar title isn’t clear enough, one focus of the course was Critical Race Theory, which holds that white supremacy and racial power are enforced by the legal system. All elite universities felt obligated to showcase these kinds of courses to prove that they weren’t elitist.

        At one time, the University of Chicago. like Stanford University, was a bastion of independent critical thinking that provided a safe haven for conservative thinkers. Those days are long past.

  2. Glenn, we are not surprised that you have found a great subject, or that you have done such a great job of analyzing it. Thank you.

  3. Good article Glenn with well made points.
    Yes, alot of thinking people do realize that the crux of the matter (for many, not all black households especially in urban areas) is that currently, 74% of black children are born into fatherless homes.
    50 years ago that number was in the low 20’s. It is truly amazing that nary a word is said about this by nearly all of the talking heads on cable news for years now. Candace Owens mentions this important fact often in talks around the country.

  4. But what about Daniel Andre Green and Larry Martin Demery who were convicted and sentenced to life in prison for murdering James Jordan in July, 1993. Would be interesting to see what type of fathers those two had (they were 17 and 18 at the time) by comparison.

  5. Nicely said, Glenn. It’s occurred to me more than once that Michael Jordan’s not likely to be likable. As you say, high achievers are often that way.

  6. Oh, yes, it does! Ancient Sanskritic advice: “Treat the mother as God, treat the father as God, treat the teacher as God.” There is a parallel in the Old Testament and also the New Testament. Interestingly, the mother is the first mentioned at least in the Sanskritic version of that advice.

    Ultimately, only God is God. But I think the point is that the path to God God is through mother, father, and teacher God. So if one has either no mother or no father, or has lost both by act of God, one is indeed at a disadvantage in earning peace and lasting prestige.

    Still, there is a point in time — Schweitzer puts it at age 28 — when one resolves to mature past whatever loss or abuse of parent(s) one has endured early in life, in other words, to be responsible for one’s self, or, one never matures and never, even if wildly talented, earns the lasting respect of one’s contemporaries and their descendants. Past about age 28 at the latest, one is set on the path to peace and prestige or never will find it, even if one becomes glamorous, monied, and feted.

    The mother first and then the father and then the teacher sets one on the truth path to happiness, and if neither of those does that, one disadvantaged in the game of life but remains responsible for overcoming that disadvantage, and, to succeed, must do that NLT about age 28.

  7. Although fatherlessness is a particularly acute problem in the urban black subculture, I believe your column is more broadly about our entire society. And I would add that it’s not just fathers who are in short supply, but “manly” MEN in general, who are increasingly less visible in every segment of our world, except on our police forces, which must be why the left seeks to defund them while androgenizing and de-genderizing the rest of us, as you noted in a recent column and in an older column in which you questioned the feminizing of Jesus.

    Interesting, isn’t it, that the priests who are charged with schooling us in Christian mysteries are not only men but are addressed as “Father.”

  8. I’m a female and never had a dad. I think I kept looking for the love of a father in my early life in the men that I dated. I never thought I missed him, but I think the affirmation a dad can give to a daughter is important. It gives a daughter confidence in her abilities. My mother was very supportive, but she couldn’t give me that. I went looking for love in all the wrong places until I learned that I am a good person and I can do good things.

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