jordon Christmas story
A Foolish Carol
By Judden Dickens
Dan Majerle might as well have been dead. His reputation as a supposedly great defensive player was exposed as a farce in the '93 Finals, when he failed in the simplest of defensive assignments -- to guard Ebeneezer jordon, the ultimate self-centered 1-dimensional ballhog to ever hit the NBA. It was a given fact that 9 times out of 10, Ebeneezer jordon was going to shoot. However, Majerle failed in this most simple task, and his humiliation was made complete when Paul Westphal opted to put the smaller Kevin Johnson on jordon. Yes, Dan Majerle's defense was dead as a doornail, and there were doubts that he could guard a closed door with a rifle.
Since that series, jordon has spent a considerable time increasing his vast wealth. He went into the clothing business, making a hefty profit at the expense of poor child labor in overseas sweatshops. He also got into the cologne business and increased his vast endorsements. After a brief 1-1/2 year vacation, jordon returned to the NBA and continued his ballhogging ways. His ballhogging had always been a burden on his team, but for 3 consecutive years, they were able to overcome his self-centered anti-team ways and win championships in spite of him. However, the Bulls' rebounding forward, Horace Grant had left Chicago for greener pastures. Without his rebounding, jordon's many bricks often found their way into the opponents' hands. Thanks to jordon's self-centered ballhogging, he had dug the Bulls into a 3-2 hole against the Orlando Magic in the playoffs.
The day before the game, at the Bulls' shoot-around, Larry jordon came to visit his brother, Foolish Ebeneezer.
"Good Day, Ebeneezer!" said Larry.
"What do you want? Did you bring another ball for me to shoot?" replied Ebeneezer.
"No", said Larry, "You already have 10 you are shooting. None of your teammates are shooting."
"Then why do you bother me, brother?" inquired Ebeneezer.
"Well, I have noticed that your ballhogging is reaching epidemic proportions. I thought perhaps we should talk about your self-centered cancerous play" said Larry.
"Bah! Humbug!" Ebeneezer responded. "What is there in life besides money and shooting? Nothing, I say!"
"But consider," Larry replied, "your team is down in the playoffs. They are one win down. Nick Anderson is scoring left and right on you and taking advantage of your ballhogging. Your team is 1 loss from elimination! You might re-consider your present course of action, and pass the ball now and then, especially since Horace isn't there to correct your many mistakes."
"Bah! Humbug!" Ebeneezer responded. "Ballhogging has made me great in the eyes of my jockers! They sing the praises of my scoring average! They buy my products! They worship my image! All because of my point production. Besides, I have 3 rings, so ballhogging is good! The more I ballhog, the better we do."
Larry answered back, "Then can you explain 1985, 86, and ESPECIALLY 1987? You scored over 37 PPG that season, yet your team got swept in the playoffs and failed to win half of their games."
"Bah! Humbug!" Ebeneezer responded.
"Bah! Humbug? Is that all you can answer?" Larry asked.
"No." jordon shot back, "Humbug! Bah! Nothing need more be said! Ballhogging has made me the greatest in many's eyes, and ballhog I'll continue to do. Good day, brother!"
Larry started to ask, "Won't you even reconsider..."
"Good day brother!" jordon interrupted.
"But it's the playoffs..." Larry tried to add.
"Good day!" jordon once again interrupted, and jordon continued to hog the ball as he forced his teammates to rebound his bricks.
* * * * * * *
After practice, Phil the Phool stopped jordon.
"Ebeneezer, I'm glad you're here. I would like to talk to you about passing and the beauties of team-ball as I learned from the genius Super Red Holzman."
"Bah! Humbug!" jordon said, "Did Red ever win a title?"
"Yes, he did", Phil answered.
"D'OH! Well, that doesn't matter. I'm still the best player in the world. Ahmad called me up and told me that yesterday, so there!" jordon replied.
"But Ebeneezer, if you keep hogging the ball, we will not advance in the playoffs." Phil pleaded.
"Playoffs! Playoffs! What a sorry excuse to play team ball. Everyone thinks that just because it's a playoff game that 1-on-1 play isn't good anymore, and that a team must play like a cohesive unit. Humbug! I hogged the ball against the Clippers and we had no problems defeating them. Now, people want me to change my game, just because it's a playoff game. Bah! It's no different! If we have the best regular season record, we will be the best playoff team."
"Really? What about the Sonics?" Phil asked?
"Bah Humbug! Bring up irrelevant details, will you? I'm telling you, my way is best! It worked in 1987, and it will work today!" jordon snapped back.
"But we got swept in 1987, to the Celtics, who played like a team." Phil answered.
"So," jordon replied, "Do you think I give a rat's behind? I won the scoring title -- my first -- so my way worked!" And with that, jordon walked off, leaving Phil there to take his Tums.
* * * * * * *
That night, Foolish Ebeneezer jordon went home and laid down in bed for a good night's rest. jordon counted jump shots in his head, but the idea of him gunning, got him excited, so was restless. At 2 in the morning, he heard rustling chains outside of his door, he got scared and pulled the covers over his head. "I haven't been this scared since I last went to Madison Square Garden to play the SuperKnicks!" jordon thought to himself.
Suddenly, the sound was in his room.
"Ebeneezer!" a voice said. A voice that sounded as cold as the grave.
"Y-Y-Y-Y Yes?" answered Foolish jordon. "Who is there?"
"This is Majerle. Dan Majerle. I am here to teach you the error of your ways, Foolish jordon!"
"B-B-B But I lit you up in the '93 finals." jordon answered. "H-H How can I have errors in my ways?"
"Silence, Foolish jordon!" Majerle shouted back. "I defended you well, but your jordon jocking refs followed the script of David Stern. If I played defense, they called fouls on me, so I had to stay at least 5 feet away from you that whole series!"
"W-W-Why are you here? Please go!" Foolish jordon said, as he shook under his covers.
"I will go," answered Majerle, "but first, I am here to deliver a message. Your ballhogging is ruining basketball. Not only are your teammates tired of it, as well as real fans of the game, but also young, foolish children are picking up your foolish ways, and the future of the NBA is in jeopardy."
"H-H-How?" inquired jordon, "If a team has 5 players like me, that is 150 points ...or 30 PPG from 5 different players. That is good, n-no?"
"FOOLISH jORDON!" shouted Majerle, as he shook he chains -- causing jordon to wet in his bed. "There are not enough balls to go around for 5 ballhogs like you! Instead, it will cause constant bickering and players trying to be more flashy than each other. The league will see all-time lows in scoring and shooting -- reminding people of how it was before the shot clock! Ballhogging will result in LOWER scoring, more bricks, and boring basketball!"
"W-W-Why do you wear those chains?" jordon asked.
"I have had a heavy burden placed upon me by the jordon-jocking press since the '93 finals." Majerle answered. "And this burden will be placed on you, once you retire and history looks back on you with an unbiased eye. NBC will have nothing to gain from jocking you, and papers will have nothing to gain by jocking you. Your allies will turn and jock some young player, who is also unworthy, just as you are unworthy, and then you will wear chains as well!"
"Noooo!" jordon screamed. "I don't want to wear chains! Help me!"
"I will not," Majerle answered, "but you will receive help. I bring this message: at the stroke of the hour, for the next three hours, you will be visited by 3 ghosts: the ghost of NBA past, present, and future. Before tonight, you will learn the spirit of team play, or else these chains await you."
And with that, Majerle was gone.
jordon remained under the covers and shook, finally calming down somewhat, and trying to rationalize the situation, much like one of his jockers tries to rationalize jordon's many shortcomings. Just when jordon had nearly fallen asleep, the clock struck 3 o'clock.
* * * * * * *
"jordon!" the voice announced, "Foolish jordon! Awaken and rise!"
Foolish jordon rose out of bed, trembling, as he looked on the ghost. Though ghost hardly described him. He looked more like a king a tall, lean, yet muscular African-American man, approximately 6 foot 10 inches tall. He had closely cut hair and a goat-tee framed his mouth. He wore green shorts, black canvas converse shoes, and a green jersey with the word "Celtics" and the number 6 on it. He wore a kingly green robe, that hung down to the ground and a crown on his head. He wore a ring on each of his fingers, and even on his thumbs! An 11th ring hung from a necklace around his neck. This was obviously a great leader of men everything that Foolish jordon was not!
"W-W-What do you w-want with me?" asked Foolish jordon.
"jordon!" the king proclaimed, "I am the ghost of NBA past. I am here to teach you the virtues of team ball. Come!"
And with that, mist filled the air, and jordon found himself in the old Boston Garden. The Celtics were playing another team, it appeared to be the Lakers. An amazing little man come down the court, dribbling the ball, and did a fabulous behind the back pass to a teammate, who laid the ball in for an easy 2 points.
"What do you think about that?" asked the ghost.
"If I were he, I would have shot. Granted, I could never pass the ball like that, but still, I would have shot," jordon replied.
"Do you know why you can't pass like that?" answered the ghost, "because you never practice passing. It is like an unexercised muscle in your body that has atrophied."
Then, the room filled with mist and jordon found himself in Madison Square Garden. It was the 1970 finals, and the New York SuperKnicks were in the process of winning their famous 7th game. They were working the ball around, and Bill Bradley took a smart, open jump shot.
"Wow!" jordon said, "how did he ever get THAT open?"
"Because they passed the ball, jordon!" the ghost answered. "They were willing to sacrifice their own stats and glory in order to help a teammate get an open shot. This is called team work."
"I never thought about that. How come nobody in the NBA now plays that way?" jordon asked.
"Because of you, jordon." answered the ghost, " Players emulated your ballhogging, showboating, hot dog antics, and now the NBA is simply a one-on-one fest." Here jordon, drink this beverage," and he handed jordon a chalice.
"If it's not Gatorade, I cannot drink it." jordon answered, "I can only drink Gatorade in public. It's in my contract."
"DRINK IT!" boomed the voice of the ghost. And jordon, fearfully took the chalice and partook of it. He removed the chalice and a grin formed across his face, like a child on Christmas day.
"What is this? It's delicious! I do not believe I have ever tasted such a delicious beverage!" jordon said.
"It's the milk of selflessness." answered the ghost, " That is why you have never tasted it."
"Teamwork. Bah Humbug." jordon answered.
The room filled with mist again and jordon found himself in old Chicago Stadium in 1989.
"See jordon? You have it in you to play team-ball. Doug Collins brought that out in you. Not only did you have your finest season, but your team became a legitimate contender, which it didn't do, when you were busy ballhogging."
"Bah! Humbug! We didn't win the title, did we?" jordon answered back.
"No, but the league wasn't watered down like it was later on." the ghost replied.
And with that, the room filled with mist, and he was back in his bedroom.
"Remember, jordon, YOU are the reason that glorious form of basketball doesn't exist. Be like Mike, but Mike is a ballhog."
"Bah Humbug. I have 3 rings." jordon answered. "What has teamwork ever done for anybody?"
"I have 11 rings, Foolish jordon! And I didn't win them in a watered-down league." Answered the ghost. "It appears I have failed to teach you the virtues of team play. Perhaps the next ghost can do a better job than I. I bid you farewell, Foolish jordon!"
And with that, the clock struck 4 o'clock.
* * * * * * *
The Ghost of NBA present was also big...bigger than the previous ghost. He stood 7'1" and appeared to weight 330 pounds. He wore a royal purple sleeveless shirt adorned with the word "Lakers" across it, and the number 34. The sleeveless jersey accentuated his muscular arms, and his baggy shorts covered up his muscular thighs. He was bald, and had a smile that one would see on TV.
"jordon! Come!" said the ghost, and the room filled with smoke.
They found themselves in a hospital recovery room. Laying in the bed, moaning, was jordon's business associate, Scottie Cratchet.
"Thanks to you, jordon," the ghost said, "Mr. Cratchet will not be able to provide a quality Christmas dinner for his family, because his money is tied up in hospital bills."
"Not true," jordon replied, "He is an NBA player, and one of the finest in the league, he makes lots and lots of money."
"No, jordon, YOU make lots and lots of money." the ghost answered back. "Because you hogged the money, there was none left to renegotiate Mr. Cratchet's contract. He is the 6th highest paid Bull, and doesn't even make 1/10th of what you do, even though he is far superior to you."
"Well, that's his fault. He shouldn't be in the hospital." jordon snapped.
"It is your fault that he is here." the ghost replied.
"How so?" jordon asked.
"Let us see," said the ghost, and the roomed filled with smoke. When it cleared, he found himself in game 6 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semi-finals. jordon was hogging the ball and shooting brick after brick. Scottie Cratchet was running himself ragged, trying to rebound jordon's bricks, setting up teammates, and trying to defend not only his man, but jordon's, since jordon wasn't exerting any effort on defense.
"How did he injure his back?" jordon asked.
"Because he's been carrying you on his back ever since he joined the league," the ghost replied, "it finally gave, as the strain increased with each passing year, as you ballhogged more and more."
jordon then saw Scottie Cratchet pass the ball to a wide-open Tiny Kerr, but jordon (in the game) screamed at Kerr to pass him the ball. Kerr did, and jordon shot another brick, as Orlando increased their lead.
"See, jordon," the ghost told him, "He could have hit that shot, but you had to have more points to pad your stat line with. Poor Tiny Kerr."
Then, the room filled with smoke, and when it cleared, they found themselves in one of jordon's sweatshops. Small children were slaving away, sewing more pairs of Air jordon's, under the crack of the whip, from their foremen. One of the children accidentally poked himself with the needle and started to bleed. "Ouch," said the child, and attempted to put pressure on it.
"What are you doing?" asked the foreman, "No first aid on company time! You think that hurts? I'll show you hurt!" and he cracked the whip at the small boy, "Now, get back to work, and don't get any blood on those shoes!"
"I hope this doesn't turn into gangrene," the small boy whispered to his neighbor, "I can't afford to lose any productivity, or Mr. jordon will fire me, and I am the only source of income for my family. They couldn't afford to eat, if I don't bring home my 50 cents per week."
"No talking!" screamed the foreman, and he cracked the whip again.
"Look at what you've done, Foolish jordon," said the ghost. "None of these children will even enjoy Christmas, because you are making them work their 18 hour work shift on Christmas day!"
"Business is business," jordon responded.
Then the room filled with smoke and jordon found himself in Madison Square Garden again. This time, the New York SuperKnicks were winning the deciding game against the heavily favored Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
"See, jordon," the ghost said, "teamwork does pay. Notice how these guys are playing like one cohesive unit in the absence of Super Patrick Ewing. Notice how Super Starks is rallying the troops and his unselfish play is rubbing off on his teammates. See how Super Larry Johnson is full of excitement as he performed that give-and-go with Super Allen Houston? You could have that same kind of influence on your team, if you only learned the virtues of team ball."
"Bah, humbug!" jordon said, "I don't care about that. Teamwork doesn't get me scoring titles."
The room filled with smoke, and they found themselves back in jordon's bedroom.
"jordon, you only have one more chance." the ghost said, "and then, you will have to wear the chains of your foolishness!"
And then the clock struck 5.
* * * * * * *
The Ghost of NBA Future was in jordon's room. He was a scary sight. He wore a gangsta hat, pulled down low, concealing his face. He wore a long, baggy black shorts, and very sharp Reebok shoes. He wore a black jersey that said "Sixers" and had the number 3 on it. The butt of a handgun could be seen sticking out of his shorts.
"G-G-Ghost of NBA future, I find you more frightening than your 2 counterparts. I am sure you have no respect for me, but please do not harm me."
The ghost didn't say a word, but simply signaled for jordon to come over to him. jordon did, and the room filled with smoke. jordon saw Scottie Cratchet in a Phoenix Suns uniform. They were playing the Philadelphia 76ers in the year 2000 NBA finals. It was a close game, but the Sixers had a slight lead. Allen Iverson, the Sixers superstar point guard, drove by Jason Kidd, and when Antonio McDyess tried to block the shot, Iverson executed a perfect wrap-around pass to Theo Ratliff, who jammed the ball home.
"I don't get it," jordon said, "How did they make the finals? I'm the best team in the NBA!"
The ghost remained motionless.
"Answer me," jordon said, "Why aren't I in the finals? Did I retire?"
The ghost shook his head.
"Then what happened to me?" jordon asked.
Then the room filled with smoke, and jordon saw the Sixers playing the Bulls. Iverson was humiliating jordon on drive after drive, as jordon's defensive inablities were magnified. There was no Scottie Cratchet and Dennis Rodman to correct his errors. The scoreboard read "Sixers 150, Bulls 47". Tim Floyd was desperately pleading with jordon to pass the ball, but jordon looked disinterested in what Floyd had to say. jordon (not the one playing) went over to the scoresheet and looked at his stat line. It read "FGA: 48 FGM: 2"
"Where are my refs?" jordon asked? "They always make up for my misses!" Then jordon overheard Jerry Krause and Jerry Reinsdorf talking to each other.
"Thank goodness this season is over. 2-80. Wow!" Krause said, " Who would have thought we could be so bad? We make the 1973 Sixers look like the Dream Team. I think it's pretty safe to say that no one will sign Michael when we give him his walking papers. The league has now seen what we knew and hid all along: he's a cancer. Look at these empty seats. Even the jockriders don't like him anymore."
"Nooooooooooooooooooo!" jordon said, "Please Mr. Ghost, take me to my sweatshop! I must know that I still have a stable income."
The room filled with smoke and jordon found himself in ruins. Where sewing machines and chairs with chains once sat, now, it was just a pile of junk, barely distinguishable.
jordon fell to his knees, sobbing, "why? why, oh why? Could the ghosts have been right? My ballhogging actually hurts the team? Without Scottie and Dennis and Tiny Kerr and the others to make up for my errors, our team sucks, and without them on the team, the jockriders will see how truly awful I am, and they will quit buying my products? Please Mr. Ghost, I have learned my lesson, please, I don't want to be a ballhog! I'll change my ways. I'll pass the ball, I'll shoot less. I'll play defense. I won't force children to make my shoes! Please save me from this."
At that point, jordon looked up to see the true face of the Ghost of NBA future. It was Allen Iverson.
"Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" jordon screamed.
...and he woke up, sweating like the sweaty ballhog he is on the court.
* * * * * * *
"I'm alive!" Foolish Ebeneezer jordon, screamed, "I'm alive! I will make up for my ballhogging ways! I will pass the ball. I will play defense. I will even try to make up my wrong act of firing Doug Collins. I shall make amends today -- and allow our team to advance in the playoffs!"
jordon went to practice, full of the joy of team-play, and he informed his teammates of his change. He apologized to Scottie for the strain that he [jordon] caused him all these years. He promised Toni Kukoc that he would get to shoot the ball. He told Tiny Kerr that he would get to shoot lots and lots of 3's. Goodwill filled the Bulls locker room and Phil the Phool smiled, thinking his speech changed jordon.
They went out to the court and the game started. The Bulls won the jumpball. Scottie controlled the ball.
"Give me the ball, Scottie," jordon said.
"What about team play?" Scottie said.
"I will, but let me shoot this one." jordon said, and Scottie passed it, and jordon fired a brick.
On defense, jordon wandered around, not really guarding his opponent, waiting for the Bulls to get back on offense, like a child on Christmas Eve.
When they got the ball back, jordon told Scottie, "Give me the ball again."
"Phil is signaling for the triangle." Cratchet replied.
"Give me the %$!!$%& ball" jordon snapped. And when he got it, he considered passing it, but he instead chucked up a brick. It turned out that jordon could not be scared out of his ballhogging. It was just too deeply rooted in him.
Or, as Tiny Kerr exclaimed, "God help us, everyone!"