I grew up in New York City, which made being a Michael Jordan fan a little tricky. All my grade-school friends got riled up about John Starks, Patrick Ewing, and the rest of the bruising New York Knicks, but I couldn't bring myself to root against Jordan. Though he destroyed my hometown team season after season, I didn't care. Every May, as my classmates sulked, I grinned ear to ear, asking them, "Did you see MJ last night?" They'd always look at me with bad intentions, mumble something, and walk away. I got used to it.
Friends, girls, grades: All of these things came and passed as I got older, but MJ was always MJ (expect for his Washington Wizards days, but let's just all agree that his second comeback never happened, ok?) Six NBA titles in six appearances in the NBA Finals. I expected him to be the best, and he was.
So naturally, when I was pitched a chance to travel to Chicago and check out the new Air Jordan XX3'S, I was beyond excited, even though I tried to temper my hopes. Would he be there? Would he just appear via video and be done with it? Would we hang out with him? It turned out to be better than I ever could have imagined. Here's the full scoop:
My flight from Kennedy Airport in New York City lands at O'Hare Airport in Chicago. I retrieve my duffel bag and meet a polite gentleman who drives a large, black SUV adorned with a Jordan-brand logo. He's going to drive me back to the hotel. "Do you like UFC?" he asks. Do I ever. He puts on a DVD of an old fight between Royce Gracie and Matt Hughes on his new dashboard DVD player. We watch. Hughes wins, convincingly. It's awesome.
Check into the W Lakeshore in Chicago. The bustling, trendy lobby is filled with beautiful, rich people. I am neither beautiful nor rich, not after sitting in the airport all day and surviving on a writer's salary. I take my credit-card-key-thing, scoot up the elevator, and throw open my room's door.
Change into cushy, white bathrobe. Lounge exotically.
Click. Volume down. Click. Click. Click.
Pull out a notebook, start brainstorming each and every question that I could possibly have a chance to ask MJ tomorrow. Questions range from "Why are you so great?" to "Are you greater than everyone, or just most people?"
"You've always exuded a personal self-confidence, either on the court or in the boardroom. How important has that confidence been to your success?"
No way I'm asking Michael that question.
What time is it? I better hit the sack soon.
Now I really need to get to bed after five pages of handwritten questions are complete. I'm as prepared to ask him about Laney High School and his brother Larry as I am about the new shoes. Perhaps I'm overpreparing?
Meaningless channel changing over, I finally turn the light off. I wonder if Santa Claus will wake me up in the morning.
Wednesday, October 24, 7:00 AM
What time is it? Where Am I?
Bearings together, I hop out of bed and take the quickest shower ever.
Breakfast buffet of eggs, bacon, home fries, juice, and coffee. I eat way less than I'd like to. I'm sure, should I get the chance to meet MJ, I'll vomit, either on or near him. It's not worth the potential heartache to have seconds of scrambled eggs.
"Hi, I'm Brandon. Men's Fitness. Hi, I'm Brandon. Men's Fitness. Hi, I'm Brandon. Men's Fitness..."
Hey, is that ESPN.com's Scoop Jackson?