Why Grown Men Should Not Worship Michael Jordan

A family friend, Skip, once played golf with Michael Jordan. He relayed this to me—I was in my teens at the time—in such a way that conveyed cognizance of the event's potential cool, but also with the same clinical language one might employ to describe a round with fellow regular business guys. Crucially, the thrust of the story revolved around one such regular business guy beating His Airness. MJ, apparently, was furious. And, being ultra-competitive, he demanded a rematch.

"But I’ll be late to Seder," replied the victor. Jordan conceded to a one-hole playoff with a caveat: Should he lose, he'd have to join the winner's family in the celebration of Passover. To put it mildly, a putter defends Jordan better than Bryon Russell.

In humanizing Jordan, the tale effectively revealed that he was nothing more than a competitive douchebag. The silver lining (he actually made good on the bet) didn't sway my opinion. A lone concession doesn't absolve Jordan from forcibly waking coach Chuck Daly to avenge a 1-stroke loss during the '92 Olympics or punching a teammate (Steve Kerr) in the face.

I, myself, am not immune to Jordan's magic. On March 10, 1998, the flare of camera flash provided a near blinding accompaniment to the announcers call: "From North Carolina, standing 6' 6", Michael Jordan." The scene, undoubtedly, had been repeated every night of the season, but that was on a night—an evening in which the Chicago Bulls played Alonzo Mourning's Miami Heat—when I was actually in the United Center, covered in goosebumps. Jordan scored 37, shooting roughly 57% from the field over 39 minutes. Two days earlier, he had torched the Knicks for 42 at MSG, while wearing an original pair of Air Jordan 1s. I watched that game from the star's eponymous restaurant in Chicago, eating coconut chicken tenders and barely able to restrain my awe. The dude was basically toying with Ewing's boys in a pair of ancient sneakers. And shoes, of course, are part and parcel of the Jordan aura. While in Denver for the 2005 All Star Game, the doors of the Brown Palace Hotel elevator opened upon my arrival to reveal Michael Jordan. He stood alone. I stood slack-jawed, muttered hello and immediately walked to Niketown and bought a pair of Air Jordan 20 on the spot.

Once the on-court glory fades, all we're left with is a very tall narcissist.

Michael, however, isn't the only guy to have influenced me into wear Air Jordans. Allen Iverson's turn in the XI made me covet Tinker Hatfield's masterpiece. I also bought the original Team Jordans after watching Louis Bullock, Robbie Reid and Robert Traylor lead Michigan to victory in the inaugural Big Ten Tournament (that same week MJ scored 42 at MSG and 37 against the Heat).

At the same time, Jordan never propelled me to buy Hanes undershirts or wear cologne. I hated Space Jam (much like I despise all children's films) and, most of all, found those of my peers who professed admiration for MJ owners of faulty personality. For them, being a corporate shill was acceptable. Moreover, they were willfully buying into a construct.

Jordan's basketball greatness is the definition of undeniable. However, most of us can't play for shit and lessons from his skill set are simply not transferable. The way I can actually "Be like Mike" is as a philandering asshole. Dreams are great for 8-year-olds. Adults must face reality. Sometimes, in bleak moments corroded by drugs and alcohol, a grown man might ask himself, "How the fuck did I get here?" Singing along to "I Believe I Can Fly" won't help for shit.

I've met adults who say they are inspired by Jordan. These are men who define greatness and success singularly. They are content to uphold the status quo, and they are fine with the idea that cigar smoking, gambling and driving a Lamborghini is the pinnacle of life. They are, essentially, unthinking mooks.

Beneath the party, Jordan is famously petty. He will hold a grudge (how juvenile!) and act upon it with staggering cruelty. In one instance, Jordan was even exposed trying to cheat in a casual game of cards against an elderly woman. Exactly the type of guy you aspire to be, correct? Exactly the way you'd like your future children to behave, right? Once the on-court glory fades, all we're left with is a very tall narcissist.

In world history, there exists a laundry list of figures possessing inspiring character. Jordan is amongst those only if one has an infantile approach to life.

  • Carver Low

    “I despise all children’s films.”
    – Nick “No Fun” Schonberger

  • Oppiken

    My man, I can’t take anything you wrote in that article seriously after saying you don’t like “Space Jam”. Seriously. Bugs Bunny. Daffy Duck. Some of the best basketball players of the 90s. Bill Fucking Murray. Boom.

    • astro

      you act as if Space Jam is up there with Home Alone

      • Oppiken

        I act as if Space Jam is one of the defining movies of my childhood because at the age of 9, I watched all the Bulls games that season when they went 69-13 and kicked ass against the Jazz. I even got myself a knock-off MJ jersey because my parents thought it was a waste of money to buy a kid-size jersey for me that I would grow out of and a knock-off all I could afford after saving up months of candy allowance money.

        Let me put it this way: I don’t go lining up for the release of Macaulay Culkin sneakers at the age of 25.

        • DD

          Air Mac’s would be dope though.

      • Tony Markovich

        That’s because it is, no question.

    • LOWA

      “Space Jam” was a gigantic turd made to distract and steal money from retards, of which you are one.

  • DAMNlookatHIM


  • Volt Beat Electron

    Man, seriously shut the fuck up! You don’t know shit about Jordan and his fucking legacy. He is a fucking legend so please SHUT THE FUCK UP!

    • Kid A

      You sound like you really want to own a Lamborghini

    • connor

      you prolly werent even a fuckin stain on your mom’s shirt when MJ took his last shot gtfo

    • Kai

      jump on the bandwagon, darth vadar is a legend, BIG FUCKING DEAL! NOT!

  • Dillon

    This article is as corny and pretentious as the artisan overpriced coffee consumed by underpaid complex freelance writers

    • PBH


    • Jason Pierre Sr.

      Yea! Wait…what??

  • jack

    you hated space jam

    • jack

      the fuck up

  • JDW1g

    must like LeBron

    • Ttkin


  • Kid A

    Well said Nick. This is the problem with celebrity worship. Detestable traits are ignored in favor of professional success (in Jordan’s case, his on-court legacy). “The ends justify the means” mentality is, sadly, prevalent in our culture.
    And never meet your heroes.

  • Da Bol Keem

    Never liked jordan anyway he’s a fuckind douche bag

  • .

    so a grown man has flaws… cool

  • Tr3y_dEE

    Not to mention his reckless abandonment of the ‘elbow rule’ in beer pong

    • Ross

      the greatest offense of all

  • http://www.OnlyBeta.co Beta

    Michael Jordan is a HUMAN being, and no human is perfect. Grown men should follow the great example they are given, and for example: Jordan played great basketball.. I can’t believe I just sat and read this load of bullshit.. Seriously?..

    • G14

      honestly I’ve seen grown men do way worse over 2k and Madden. Cats came to blows over street fighter. Be the same cat that give u a ride to work the next day or buy pizza for the guys.

  • http://marknmays.com Mark Mays

    How sad and lonely it must be up there on that high horse, looking down upon all us “unthinking mooks” who are able to hold two apparently (but not really) contradictory opinions, that MJ is perhaps the GOAT and worthy of admiration AND a complex person who has done some unlikeable things. Complex editor, I knew it was clickbait but I couldn’t resist seeing where you were going with this. mediocrity wins again.

    also cool story bro

  • Hek

    So you were expecting that a basketball player would score 40 points and then rescue cats, fight poverty in the world, live life like a tibetan monk AND buy you some ice cream while giving you a ride home in his new Lamborghini? Maybe you are the one that worships another man a little too much…

  • PierreCharles

    Blogging+Trolling= Trogging^^

  • G14

    My problem with your approach is it has nothing to do with why you like Jordan. So you let a few stories that put him in an unfavorable light

  • Gatsby

    No man should idolize or worship another man because we’re all human and prone to the occasional error. But this guy is doing his best impression of an overly pliable blogger swayed by hearsay and motivated by his own, admitted, lack of self worth. What a pretentious way to be a hating prick.

  • Justin

    He was competitive, you don’t say! He could’ve done a lot worse like kill dogs, rape, or convicted of manslaughter like a few other athletes. Your argument was invalid once you opened your mouth about Space Jam.

    • DD

      Why you gotta bring up my dude Mike Vick like that?:(

  • krossoverking

    Fuck you nigga. Jordan is the truth #suckmynutz

  • Marc

    From what I can tell, Michael Jordan = Frank Underwood

  • Shoota Dave

    This is the dumbest thing I’ve read in a very long time smh. So the fuck what MJ is a passionate competitor, thats the devotion that won him 6 championships and 5 MVPs. And I’m sure he’s done more commendable things outside of basketball that you fail to mention. You sound salty as fuck. The nigga is only human, give him a break. Nobody gives a shit if he is overly competitive, wears hanes and has an extensive ugly denim collection. Jesus used to threaten cripples after healond them for christs sake. Peoole idolize him because he is the greatest basketball player of all time and thats why they should. So please, eat a dick.

  • zen master

    if this was about any other baller it would be acceptable. but if ppl touch mj ppl loose their collective shits. let it go, mjs a dick. its been known. #hitlerstache

  • J

    You don’t like space jam therefore these words have no value. Stick to buying new balance

  • fuccyouraunty

    get off your high horse nick schornwhateverthefuck.
    1. you are not eating
    2. you are not eating
    3. you are not eating
    why? because you write shitty articles for a wack ass fucking blog. so get off that high horse buddy. i do agree that nobody should be wearing jordans tho especially if youre over 21

    • Lawrence

      lol nick is a deputy editor at complex. he makes a lot of money

      • fuccyouraunty

        fuck up Lawrence fuccboyfishburn. we don’t believe you

        • Lawrence

          i need more people? ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  • DD

    What exactly was the point of writing this?? Let a nigga live. Hes only human.

  • blankman

    I really thought this piece would go into MJ’s horrible, horrible, horrible, taste in clothes. Dude can’t dress for shit!

  • Dizzlerocksj’s

    MJ is the man met him myself and he played for my city Chicago this writer is speaking through another mans eyes and views to form his own opinion, major dick move. I’m a ass hole to some cool with people I like so I guess I’m like Jordan I hate to lose too and who gives a fuck about Steve Kerr lucky to play under Phil and with Jordan if not no ring he hurt us on the defensive end back then.

  • brianvaxter

    This is was a really eye catching article at first. People don’t look up to Mike because they wanna hang out with I’m (Well maybe someone does) they look up to him because of his hard work, ability to over adversity and win through practice and superior team play. When I seen this I thought it would be an interesting read but it just sounds like you want Mike to be your buddy. He never claimed to be your friend. I didn’t want him to be either. Just play ball and win. That’s all I wanted. That’s all he did. When he leaves the court I could care less about what he does. At the end of the day he’s a damn basketball player. Look to your parents and family for role models. Oh no! A rich guy is a douchebag!! What a shock. I get inspired by what people have done in their field of work Muhammad Ali, Bill Gates, Bruce Lee. Great at what they did and I’m inspired but that. Do I wanna bring em home and monitor their personal life? Hell no.

  • newport

    It sounds like you had a good story to tell here but I wish your family friend, Skip, would of told it to us and not you. You need to leave your ego out when you right and just tell the story.

  • Igor

    Grown men shouldn’t worship niggers.
    Team sports is for bydlo.

  • Kai

    micheal jordan is a huge egoic narcissist, in a lot of ways he is an unhealthy example of sports, focusing on ego instead of putting that ball in the hoop, Its a SIMULATOR for goodness sakes, its about going through obstacles and challenges to the goal, life! But he destroys it with his egoic bullshit, of course people who wanted to make money sure took the opportunity to market this monster egoic maniac and SELL STUFF by those seduced sufficient! but it matters not, i think he actually had a very deteriorating impact on the league and all of sports, one which I’m glad to say, i feel the league and sports has recovered from remarkably from, shedding egoic bullshit for effectiveness and efficiency to the goal, realizing that the only purpose of a movement in this context is for greater effectiveness and efficiency towards the goal, it was so sad because his impact could have been good he deteriorates because he compromises that goal, life.

  • junjun

    we don’t worship him for his attitude or his lifestyle. we worship him for his airness.

  • arc

    The people who tell me they hate Jordan because he is ultra competitive and is cocky are usually the people who act just like him. I always find it funny. It’s usually a rich prick who stepped all over people to get where they are today. And are pretty arrogant about it. They are the ones with the nicest houses and nicest cars. They may not like Jordan but they sure try to be like him. I’m sure they would give their left nut to be him.

  • eyecee

    Shitty just shitty

  • JimBou1234

    This was probably written by someone who thinks all kids should get a trophy and everyone should make the team. The reason Jordan was so great was because of his personality and competitiveness. Had he not had those traits, he would have been an average player..it was his drive that helped him succeed. This article should be filed under the “tell us something that we didn’t know”. He’s a competitor and last I checked, those dudes compete. Is Steve Jobs next? I’ve heard he had some qualities that weren’t too admirable.

  • Unbelievable

    This article is hot garbage. The sweeping, vitriol-filled generalizations you make about fans of a basketball player are just absurdly irrational reaches. (“They are content to uphold the status quo, and they are fine with the idea that cigar smoking, gambling and driving a Lamborghini is the pinnacle of life. They are, essentially, unthinking mooks.” , “Dreams are great for 8-year-olds. Adults must face reality. Sometimes, in bleak moments corroded by drugs and alcohol, a grown man might ask himself, “How the fuck did I get here?” Singing along to “I Believe I Can Fly” won’t help for shit.” )

    What the actual fuck are you talking about? Those are caricatures of people. And you’re a joke of a writer.

  • ALM Revenge

    We can find countless stories of “narcissistic” celebrities who have, at one time or another, done something as unforgivable as supposedly cheat playing cards with an old woman. To “be like Mike” isn’t a goal for everyone; but if his winning years as a basketball player or a shrewd business man inspire men and women alike to be successful in their own lives, in their own ways, where lies the harm?

  • Taboo Patterson

    I think you’re missing the context of being black in America AND the fact that he was so transcendent and bankable as a star.

  • PBH

    2014 – the year of click-bait . What a stupid article.

  • Tariq Muhammad

    Wow, big time Jordan hater….looool

  • darren

    U a fool if u only “worship” or respect a man’s accomplishments w a nice guy n politeness prerequisite. Eat shit pushover

  • squatty

    fourpins worships kanye’s testicles

  • Rick!23

    Dude jealousy is a horrible thing and anyone who says they wouldn’t trade lives in a heartbeat is a complete liar. I had the amazing gift of meeting Mr.Jordan however brief as it was and he was not only charming he signed a beverage napkin from the club we were at and sent the waitress over with a corona for me. Anyone who is deemed the best at anything EVER has the right to be eccentric even narcissistic so ease up on the judgement, you are not god
    Adult Jordan enthusiast!