23 Year Old Michael Jordan With David Letterman

I just tuned into the fabulous new documentary on the 1992 Dream Team, the magical group of Olympic All-Stars led by Michael Jordan.  If you grew up as a kid in the 90s like I did, Michael Jordan was the closest thing to experiencing Babe Ruth.  It didn’t matter what team you were a fan of, watching Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls dominate basketball was a thrill right out of a comic book.  Jordan played with passion, creativity, and inspiration, and he came to represent the icon of American achievement, proudly setting the bar for success higher and higher.  The thing I like most about Michael was that he never shrank from the spotlight and never felt embarrassed to be who he was.  Many icons of sports and popular culture exude a bitterness and resentment in the face of overwhelming media attention and praise, but Michael embraced it and owned it.  Criticism did grow around Jordan, concerning the colossal commercialization of his name and likeness, but I always felt that criticism was a bit wrong headed. While it was certainly true that Michael lent his name to anyone with a big enough paycheck, he never pretended that it wasn’t anything other than enjoying the spoils of money and fame.  His appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman when he was then just a 23 years old emerging phenomenon, shows Michael constructing this public identity, which was a cross between a crass walking commercial, and, somehow, an unpretentious everyman burning with the universal desire to be great.  Letterman, also young and spry, does his part in helping create the myth and legend, and the clip below is just a lot of fun.

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