October 18, 2011
For all his athletic greatness, Michael Jordan does not exactly have the best reputation as a human being. There are countless stories of his jerkiness in the David Halberstam biography "Playing for Keeps" (which you should read), and MJ's Hall of Fame speech was full of petty gripes. As ever, basketball stardom does not have a direct correlation to friendliness.
Still, most would expect Jordan to have enough humility not to talk trash to the leader of the free world. But that's exactly what he did to Bill Clinton. From an interview with Bubba for The Wall Street Journal (via EOB):
Clinton loves playing golf with athletes whenever he can. He's played with Greg Norman, Adam Scott, Luke Donald and Michael Jordan, among others. Jordan coaxed him from the white tees to the championship tees by saying, "You're going to play from the little girls' tee?" Jordan's challenge was for Clinton to break 100; he did.
I am going to assume that Jordan's "challenge" had some money involved, or maybe some kind of executive privilege from Clinton. It's unclear if they played while Clinton was still in office, but something tells me His Airness wanted a presidential pardon or two to get him out of a jam.
Jordan has regularly proven that he's as competitive as anyone in recent American history, but this story helps explain just how deep it goes. Most people, even if they were crazy Ari Gold-type Hollywood agents, would put aside their tendencies to bet and mock for a former president. The office deserves some level of respect.
We are probably never going to see another Michael Jordan in the NBA. For the people who had to deal with him on a daily basis, that might not be such a bad thing.