Saturday, February 16, 2013

Happy Birthday Michael Jordan. By James Velasquez.

Here’s something I’ve never told anyone in my life. 

I didn’t always want to be a sportscaster when I was growing up.

I wanted to be a Chicago Bull.

What I wouldn’t give to find that 4th grade Mastery Test: we were tasked to draw our dreams for the future, with an essay detailing why that particular image was our goal. So I crudely (I was never the family artist) drew an image of myself soaring to the basket in a red Chicago Bulls uniform with the jersey number, 32. Not 23.

I wanted to be a Chicago Bull. But as audacious as I was when I was a kid, Young James knew he wasn’t worthy of 23.

I take pride in remembering trivial stuff from the past like this, because a) the 90s rocked socks, and b) because I belong to a proud generation that actually saw Michael Jordan play the game of basketball. 

The Velasquez Brothers rockin' their AJs.

We saw the dunks. We saw the tongue wag. We saw The Shot. We saw the one-handed pump fake. We saw the unstoppable fadeaway J. We saw The Last Shot for title #6. 

And most importantly, we saw The Shoes.

Years will pass, but ain’t no one messin’ with the fact that my generation rocked OG Air Jordans. We bought those bad boys in the mall. No lines, no campouts. In my case, my Tito Ruben from the States didn’t have to camp out for a week for my first pair, the Air Jordan XIIIs, the pair Denzel Washington wore in He Got Game starring with Ray Allen.

Up to this day, I will never forget putting on my first pair of Js. The long and short of it, I felt like I have a part of MJ with me. I’d never be able to fly Like Mike. Or dunk on people a foot taller than me. But hey, I was rocking the kicks The Greatest of All Time had on his feet. 

Every basketball moment I would have from that point on would be enhanced. Every jumper I make. Every steal. Every layup on the fastbreak. Every head that turns when you walk past them. Every moment is specially framed when you’re wearing Air Jordans. For a few precious moments, I felt Like Mike.

50. A number I usually associate with MJ because of the 34 times he dropped 50+ points on the opposition, 39 if you include 60 point games. But wow. Michael Jordan is 50 years old.

Ray Allen put it best, in ESPN’s video tribute to His Airness: “It is hard to believe that he’s 50 years old. Because in my mind, I’m still a child when I think about watching him play.”

Happy Birthday Michael Jordan! I don’t care what the next generation says. You are, and always will be, The G.O.A.T. – JV

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