Category Archives: Michael Jordan

The Triangle Myth

In thinking about basketball culture, I’ve found it useful to think about certain recurrent themes, images, metaphors and topics of discussion as myths.  I don’t mean “myths” in the sense of falsehoods. Instead, I mean myth in the definition given by scholar Robert Segal as a story that conveys a belief that, whether it is true or false, is tenaciously held by its adherents.  Another scholar once referred to myths as “cultural dreams.” If you accept that dreams can shed light on our deeper feelings and attitudes, wishes and fears, then it can be useful to explore the shame of these cultural dreams called myths, for they can help us to better understand the things we feel collectively as a culture but perhaps are not in touch with enough to articulate directly.  Better understanding these things, in turn, can help empower us to change those things that we discover may need changing, just as better understanding our individual fears and wishes can lead us to improve our lives.

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The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (Francisco Goya)

Nicholas Dawidoff published an elegantly produced, honest and informative inquiry into the Triangle in yesterday’s New York Times. The piece inspired this post and I’ll be using examples from it to illustrate just what I’m talking about. Discussion of the Triangle doesn’t always take on the form of a story, thought it almost always includes stories (such as the story of Tex Winter, who originally devised it, or the story of Phil Jackson’s implementation of it when he was coaching the Chicago Bulls and Michael Jordan to multiple championships). But, regardless of the prominence of narrative in discussions of the Triangle, I think it’s still useful to probe them for those tenaciously held beliefs; useful, in other words, to speak of something we might call “The Triangle Myth.”

So what are the defining element of the Triangle Myth? In no particular order, the Triangle Myth consistently affirms several beliefs: 1) the complexity of the Triangle; 2) a strong association of the Triangle with the success of Jackson-coached teams in Chicago and Los Angeles; 3) the beauty of the Triangle; and 4) the qualities, especially moral qualities, required of players in order to run the Triangle effectively.

All these elements are visible in Dawidoff’s article. Indeed, the complexity of the offense appears as one of his motivations in writing the story.  He writes,

The system is basketball’s Gödel, Escher, Bach, renowned for being highbrow and difficult to understand. Yet trying to get through an abstruse book about the essence of cognition is one thing; that basketball could be over our heads is somehow harder to take.

and

I found the idea of Triangle particularly intriguing. An offensive system that had won all those championships in full public view yet remained off-limits to others — that seemed provocative, a sports riddle.

This leads him to embark upon a quest he describes (albeit ironically) in a quasi-mythological terms:

Was Triangle the golden basketball mean? Was it a mirage? Mine would be a quest of sorts, deep into the heart of Winter.

In the course of this quest, he interviews a number of college and professional coaches and players.  The result is a veritable compendium of variations on the Triangle Myth.  So, we hear former player and current analyst Jay Williams testifying to its complexity:

You hand me a piece of paper and say, ‘Jay, define the triangle for me,’ it’s kind of like a kid with Magic Markers drawing a cartoon. It’s all over the page. So many series of actions, I get lost trying to explain it.

The whole article revolves around the enormous success Jackson enjoyed using the Triangle, the challenges he has faced in implementing in New York, and the vicissitudes of other coaches and players efforts to work with the offense.  We find, moreover, none other than Kobe Bryant extolling the its beauty:

We were successful because we played in such a beautiful system.

Meanwhile, Stanford University women’s coach Tara VanDerveer compared it to improvisational jazz:

“The ball movement is beautiful!” she said, sounding the way people do when they are discussing the source of deep significance in their lives.

Meanwhile, both Jackson and his acolyte, Steve Kerr (first year coach of this seasons NBA champion Golden State Warriors) lament the difficulty of finding players with the requisite qualities for understanding, accepting and implementing the Triangle.  Thus, Jackson, speaking of his challenges as President of the Knicks:

Identifying players who can be good at it is our chore.

And Kerr elaborates the complaint:

Players grow up with the pick-and-roll, so they don’t naturally play without the ball. So many one-and-done guys are incredibly gifted,but they’re not seasoned fundamentally. In Triangle, they’d be completely lost.

Ultimately, in addition to fundamental skills and intelligence, players are required to possess the moral qualities of unselfishness, self-discipline, and trust.  They must be willing, first of all, to place the team’s interests over their own individual interests or rather more precisely: they must identify their individual interests with the team’s interests.  But also, they must be willing to trust their teammates to do the same and, moreover, the offense to produce positive outcomes for the collective.

Former Bulls’ player Horace Grant brings all the elements together:

You need intelligence to run Triangle. We have great one-on-one athletes out there in the N.B.A., but to be as one, you need to know your role in Triangle. It was a smooth operating machine. Baryshnikov in action! Picasso painting! A beautiful thing!

What Bethlehem Shoals once called the “NBA bildungsroman” of Michael Jordan laboring selfishly and Punishment_sisyphunsucessfully year after year in a Sisyphian task of rolling the Chicago Bulls up the hill of the NBA playoffs only to fall back down again before coming under the firm but benign and quasi-mystical guidance of Phil Jackson and the Triangle serves as the exemplary moral tale here, which Dawidoff dutifully recounts, in the form of a quotation from then-Bulls General Manager Jerry Krause:

Michael’s smart as hell. It took him a few months, but then he realized what he could do in Triangle. He went back to Carolina, and all he did all summer was work on post stuff. For the next eight or 10 years, he scored more points in the post than most centers did.

So all the elements are here: the Triangle is a bafflingly complex system, associated with some of the most unparalleled team successes in basketball history, but its complexity, together with the individual skills and moral traits required to implement it are beyond the reach of most of today’s players. So having reviewed these examples of the constitutive elements of the Triangle Myth, let me look a little more critically and deeply.

The first thing to note is the logic whereby an offensive system (or “rubric” as Dawidoff nicely terms it) that has been successfully implemented in specific circumstances is viewed as a kind of tactical, moral, and aesthetic ideal to which coaches and teams should aspire.  This is important because it only through this elevation of the contingent into the necessary that it makes any sense for coaches to complain that they don’t have the right circumstances (read: “players”) in which to implement the Triangle.  The tacit idea here is that running the Triangle is the best of all possible basketball worlds, the Eden every coach and team would blissfully inhabit if only those players—unschooled in the fundamentals, lacking the intelligence, or unwilling to sacrifice their own interests for the good of the team—weren’t mucking it up.

The Triangle may well have been enormously successful, perhaps more successful than any offensive system in basketball history, and many may consider the patterns of ball and body movement it generates to be beautiful.  It may even exemplify certain moral traits reasonable people would consider desirable such as unselfishness, self-discipline, and trust.  I don’t have any problem with assenting to any of this.  My problem comes when in idealizing the Triangle through the Triangle Myth it becomes yet another bludgeon with which to hammer players (past and especially present) for what they appear—through the lens of this myth—to lack.

The deficiencies of today’s players seem to me to be enumerated so frequently that I fear people will come to really believe that NBA players lack fundamental skills, or intelligence, or moral qualities like unselfishness, self-discipline, or trust.  When the list of deficiencies is harnessed to the cart of a powerfully compelling story like the Triangle Myth, I think such distortions become all the more likely to be accepted as truths.

Anybody’s who has been reading me ever, but especially lately, probably knows that this is the moment to remind you that most NBA players are black and most NBA coaches are white and that it’s troubling to me to see basketball culture repeat, as though in a social vacuum, any number of criticisms of black men that have been a staple of racist discourse in this country for centuries.  That Michael Jordan (who is obviously black) is trotted out as a counter-example is itself another staple of such discourse: the exhibition of an African-American who through determination and individual virtue manages to hoist himself above his culture and so as to fulfill the expectations of the dominant, white culture.

Instead of this, we might remove the distorting lenses furnished by myths like that of the Triangle.  In doing so, we might appreciate that in every NBA game we witness dazzling exhibitions of fundamental skills honed through long hours of solitary practice, of moral virtue cultivated in, often times, the least nourishing of soils, and of a kind of embodied intelligence that—because we fall prey to the longstanding assumption that minds and bodies are two separate facets of the human being and that the mind is the sole residence of intelligence—we’re likely to overlook because it is not expressed in the forms—such as speech—we expect.

As a teacher (a kind of coach if you will) I try—when I am at what I think of as my best, which is certainly not always—to approach my classes as though the students already possess the basic skills and dispositions required to make the course a success.  I assume they are all intelligent, curious, and open to learn from and teach one another.  But I recognize that intelligence, curiosity and openness take different forms.  And I spend a fair amount of time over the first few weeks of each semester getting to know the specific individual and collective gifts a given group of students will be bringing to the table.  Only then, having established that I respect and value them, have I earned in turn th respect that allows them to accept and meet the challenges I offer them to go further and to stretch themselves.

The Fascination of Iverson Crossing Jordan: An Exercise in Praising Athletic Beauty

In my last post, I referred to Hans Umbrecht’s In Praise of Athletic Beauty in relation to my University of Michigan Comparative Literature course on Writing the Sporting Body.  I mentioned that Gumbrecht, in what I consider the heart of the book, offers a brief but rich and profound typology of the elements of sporting performance for which he is grateful and that move him to praise.  He calls these “fascinations” to capture the fact that every sporting performance entails “body movements always already shaped by the expectations and the appreciation that spectators bring with them to the game.”  The term fascination, Gumbrecht writes, “refers to the eye as attracted to, indeed paralyzed by, the appeal of something perceived. . . . But it also captures the added dimension that the spectator contributes.” My students and I worked with these seven fascinations a great deal this semester, finding them at the very least useful starting points for articulating the arresting beauty of the performances we each, or together, chose to write. I want to share these fascinations with you.  But I think the most enjoyable way to do so will be to put them to work in relation to a performance, an iconic, but brief play that continues to fascinate me.

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Writing the Sporting Body

This semester, I’m excited to be teaching two sports-related courses in the same semester for the first time.  First, I’ll once again be teaching “Cultures of Basketball.”  I taught it for the first time in Winter 2011, with few qualifications other than that I loved basketball and stories and had some tools for thinking about both of them.  That course sparked my interest and prompted me to learn more about the work of others who were thinking about basketball and culture within the academy.  Since then, in light of what I’ve learned, I’ve continued to teach and refine Cultures of Basketball every year.  Doing so has both informed and been informed by essays on the topic I’ve begun to publish in scholarly journals.  For this semester’s version, I’m reorganizing the course to follow more closely by book manuscript, Ball Don’t Lie! Myth, Genealogy and Invention in the Cultures of Basketball, which I should complete—it’s about 75 % done right now—by the end of the semester. In addition, my experience with Cultures of Basketball and people I’ve met in the broader field led me to want to broaden my range, at least, for now, as a teacher.  So, last fall, I rolled out a new, large-lecture format course at Michigan called “Global Sports Cultures” and, this semester, I’m inaugurating another new undergraduate course in Comparative Literature.  Under the general, preexisting course rubric “Literature and the Body,” I will be teaching “Writing the Sporting Body.”  I want to walk you through the idea behind the course and what we’ll be doing in it. Read more

Michael Jordan vs. David Copperfield

At last! A statistical measure of just how much of a bildungsroman a novel (or any story) is! And this indispensable and infallibly useful metric falls into my lap just when I most needed it: in the midst of pondering Michael Jordan and the stories we tell about him. Read more

There is No GOAT and Why that “truth” Will Set You Free

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I approach teaching Cultures of Basketball with the hope I can make the course and each class meeting more than just a forum for the kind of discussion a fan might have in a dorm room or sports bar with Bill Simmons. On the one hand, I want the passionate energy that kind of discussion contains and, after all, I am a fan too. But then I also want that kind of discussion to be something that students can step out of, and look at with a critical eye; I want them to come to see what sort of broader cultural purposes – often collective and unconscious — are served by particular positions in that discussion and even by the topic itself. Because this is when actual learning, self-understanding, and growth occur.

Yesterday was “LeBron Day” in class and it generated a great opportunity for this sort of thing. For, inevitably, within minutes the topic was raised: Is LeBron James the Greatest of All Time (the common acronym for non-hoops-nerds is GOAT). This question quickly narrowed to a single comparison: “LeBron vs Michael” (as in Jordan), which is when things got really animated. Read more

Hoops 1 Happens: On Ways of Seeing and Being in Basketball

Hoops 1

Here are the ways of seeing and being in basketball:

I call “Hoops 1” everything that pertains to basketball as a manifestation of integrated human capacities exercised in such a way as to produce beauty and good.

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Day 15: Exquisite Corpse

This also appeared earlier today on the FreeDarko website. But I’m keeping it here for the sake of consistency and for those few readers of mine who come here first

I’m tense. Whenever something good happens (like being asked to play last week), I’m immediately afraid it of it breaking. So I’m tense. Not only is Shoals about to come to Michigan to visit class and give his talk, but the Big Ten Tournament was to begin on Thursday and, while my students weren’t actually scheduled to play until Friday, I’d already received the form e-mail informing that they’d be traveling to Indianapolis for the tournament on Thursday. Still I gripped tightly to the vain hope that they’d be there on Thursday. After all, we had so much to talk about: our intra-class game had evolved in my mind into an intra-class World Cup style 8 team two round tournament complete with jerseys, nicknames, team names and logos and a ping pong ball lottery to round out the eight teams (each of which would be headed by a UM player).

Alas, as I walked into the room, my heart sank: no players. The e-mail had spoken truth. There were more important things in their lives than this class and the class tournament … more important things than me. It’s weird to me, but I guess I can understand it. And anyway, my heart didn’t sink too far, because the flipside of the players being gone is that there’s more room in our classroom and it’s easier to keep the discussion focused and, particularly, to keep it on the text. I’m sure it’s partly just that the lower numbers are easier for me to handle. Partly also that I am more properly teacherly when I’m faced with students who do not simultaneously embody a fantasy I once harbored for myself decades ago. But also, though I hate to say it, it is because those players giggle and whisper to each other like 6th grade schoolgirls at recess. What’s up with that?

Still, even without the players, it took us a while to settle down. We had to discuss their chances in the Big Ten Tourney, plus the various projections about where they might be seeded in the NCAA tournament. Then, of course, we had to talk about our tournament – lots of announcements there. And then finally, we had to discuss Bethlehem Shoals upcoming visit to our classroom and his public lecture at Michigan. Then, Oh God! they actually proposed that we should hold our St. Patrick’s Day class meeting, which in all likelihood would also be Michigan’s first day in the NCAA tournament at a bar with beer, or, in class with beer where, it was proposed, we could watch tournament games via the projector in the classroom. I’m thinking that this class has gotten away from me. I’m thinking that I never had this class in the first place. I’m realizing that I have gotten away from me.

As usual, I regain a grip on myself by ruthlessly repressing them. “Settle down,” I intone, repeating the phrase as if they were preschoolers, “settle down now.” I feel like a phlebotomist jabbing at an elusive vein. Except I’m trying to jab at that button that I thought a repressive educational system would have installed in these students long ago: you know, the one that infantilizes them, makes them afraid of authority and humiliation and incapable of thinking for themselves.

“Go to your cubbies, take out your mats, It’s time to have a short nap. After that we’ll have snack and then we’ll watch clips of the young Michael Jordan to go along with Shoals’ chapter on the subject.” I know they’re not the only ones who are excited. In fact, they didn’t even start it today. Well, maybe they did. The truth is I don’t remember. I just know that we’ve burned a good twenty minutes on fun, happy-go-lucky, laissez-faire bullshit and it feels like what the announcers call a “turning point”. I need to get a stop right here. I do, they settle in to watch the video, but I think it’s less out of fear, or even respect, and more just out of a kind of bored indulgence in my fantasy that this is actually a university classroom and not an annex of Good Time Charley’s that just happens to be located on campus.

We watch the 4:35 seconds of NBA sponsored, pre 1990 MJ highlights. I feel like I’m at a Fireworks show. Darkness, silence, expectation, restlessness – each in his or her own private world from which we emerge periodically, briefly, to exchange a collective “ooh.” It is, it strikes me, as though we are staging a skit about the birth of language and society. Or perhaps it is more than that because we haven’t rehearsed or planned this ahead of time and we are surprisingly unselfconscious. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that in these sporadic, exchanged exhalations we are spontaneously living a moment like the ones from which language first emerged.

The lights come on and as always they break the spell. But somehow it seems gentler this time around. Maybe because even though the darkness has been dispelled, the silence pervades. I take a second to unhook cords, let the big screen roll back up, turn off equipment. Then I ask them what they saw besides elevation. Here is what they said:

1.Lots of run outs

2.Lots of isos

3 Few passes

4.Few jumpers

5.Everything at the rim

6.How adept he is at using his large hands and his body control to protect the ball in order to get a clean shot off in traffic.

All of these were accurate observations. In fact, I counted. The clip showed 24 different made baskets. Those 24 baskets came on 2 jump shots, 8 variations on the lay up, and 14 dunks. Tactically speaking, 11 of the 24 baskets came on fast break run outs, 9 came on half court isolation sets, and 2 came on give and go’s in the half court. And I myself had felt moved to write, when I was first watching the clip myself, that the way Jordan uses his body in mid air it is almost as though he is setting moving picks for himself.

Now, there are several students in the class from Chicago whose first basketball memories – as mine are of Clyde, Big O, and the early 70s Bucks – are of Jordan of the second three-peat era from 1996-1998. We call them Jordan babies. By no means were they the only ones to participate in the discussion but they were, I would say, perhaps, the most invested. For these students, this young Jordan really stood out. Don’t get me wrong: these are knowledgeable Bulls fans and they’ve seen this younger Jordan on video before. All the more reason why, perhaps, they were so clear and emphatic on the difference between this Jordan and the one of their early childhoods.

Which brought us perfectly to the FD chapter, written by Bethlehem Shoals, on “The Invention of Air: The Brash, Brilliant Doodles of Young Jordan.” The first comment a student made was that it seemed to him that Shoals was almost trying to “villainize” Young MJ. I felt the student was perhaps himself uncertain about his word choice, but I knew what he was getting at: that: Shoals’ chapter seems to be trying to keep alive for memory a rougher-around-the-edges, more confrontational Jordan, on and off the floor, than the one that these students grew up idolizing.

I had worried there would be resistance to this in class and this first comment put me a bit on my guard. I meant to ask him: “Why might this be so? What is the value of this move? Why does Shoals devote two chapters to Jordan, the young brash Jordan and the six title winning Jordan?” But instead, I immediately defended the choice. I pointed out that within the ethical universe of FreeDarko, a Jordan who isn’t always an obedient and polished corporate spokesman is less a villain than a hero, or perhaps best of all “an anti-hero” (which was cool, because that after all is the topic of Shoals upcoming lecture). He’s the one shaking up the comfortable, and their comfortable narratives. So I kind of spilled the beans.

But the students weren’t resistant to the idea anyway. On the contrary they seemed into it. They unanimously agreed that it was a good idea to split Jordan up into two Jordans. And they seemed intrigued by the characterization of the young Jordan; maybe the way some teenagers are intrigued by stories of the time their parents first got drunk, or smoked weed. I told them some stories about the Bad Boys and the rivalry between Isiah and Michael, which seemed to interest them more than any other stories I’ve ever shared with them.

Toward the end of class we got the point in the text that most fascinates me (and, I was pleased, fascinated them as well). But we didn’t get as much time on it as I wanted, so I want to do a bit more thinking about it here. Speaking of the transition, where Jordan began to give up the dunk for the jump shot, Shoals writes: “The dunk takes an instant and an eternity; it’s both completely frivolous and totally domineering, a flash of light so blinding and brief that it might as well have never happened. A shot was the stuff of narrative; it was itself a story with a built-in arc, climax, and resolution. It also served as the perfect punctuation to any possession, game, season, or career.”

The first thing the students and I both thought about this was that it was a stroke of hoops culture genius to yoke together two kinds of shot – dunk and jumper – with two forms of expression: the exclamation, let us say, and the narrative. Within the overall argument of the chapter, Shoals point is that Michael made a choice to alter his game, and his image, not only to win titles but to become the stuff of official NBA history.

It is to say that Michael’s transition from the high-flying solo dunker that we watched in class – all run-outs and isos – to the Triangle-playing, Phil-obeying, jump shooting team player that won 6 titles in 8 years was not only effective on the court in making his team more successful and not only more effective, thereby, in cementing his place as the consensus Greatest of All Time. It was also effective as a – admittedly probably unintentional — poetic tactic whereby he made his game more amenable to narrative; narrative, which, after all is essential to the circulation of legend and its transmutation into the concrete forms of Official History.

I think about the fireworks. I think about the “oohs” and “aahs” in class. And I see perfectly what Shoals is saying. There’s no way to build a history out of those exclamations. They are, as I had felt in class, little more than a baby’s first words. Significant as such, but with little staying power, like leftover pieces of a puzzle we have lost; or the screws leftover after assembling some piece of furniture.

In this case, as Shoals already pointed out earlier in the chapter the Story of Michael’s Greatness borrows a specific narrative trajectory, well known to lit crit types like me: the bildungsroman, or novel of formation. In that novelistic form, the protagonist, usually a talented and energetic, but raw, provincial comes to the big city, to the center of culture in his universe. There, little by little, he is formed, shaped at once by his own ambition to be recognized by that culture and by the demands that culture makes of those who would be recognized by it. In the end, the individual accepts the prevailing ethos of the culture in exchange for recognition by it and that ethos is thereby affirmed.

According to Shoals, Michael, the brutally talented individual, eventually works hard, learns (from the Master Phil Jackson no less) how “less is more” (see the graphic in the chapter that shows how the Bulls win totals rise each year as Jordan’s scoring average drops), subordinates himself for the team and, in the end, wins titles and the eternal admiration of all.

As Obi Wan says to Darth Vader, “If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Something like that is the deal the young Jordan strikes with the old Jordan. If you agree not to score 37 points per game for your whole career (which is an abomination to the game), then you can win titles with obscene ease, drain a few legendary game winning jumpers, and we will never, ever forget you. Young Michael lowers his light sabre, folds his hands across his chest, and is launched into hoops immortality.

I’m totally down with all this and think it does a brilliant job of rescuing some promising castoffs from the side of the road of history. I’m reminded of the German philosopher Walter Benjamin’s recognition that there is “no document of civilization that is not also a document of barbarism.” He meant that all that we remember, all that we celebrate as triumph is simultaneously a defeat for someone else, a record of something or someone having been crushed and tossed to the side. Accordingly, he recommended a way of thinking about history whereby those fragments might be gathered up. They might not ever form a standard narrative, but they could, with care, be held together, and presented as a kind of alternative to that standard narrative and a reminder that what took place was neither inevitable, nor one sided, nor without some struggle and violence.

Shoals here has presented the fragments left behind, the McDonald’s wrappers that Jordan and the NBA and hoops culture as a whole threw out the window as they tore town the Interstate at breakneck speed toward individual immortality and league global domination. It reminds me of the difference between Old Elvis and Young Elvis, between Old Marx and Young Marx and makes me think that Jordan, thanks to Shoals, gets like so few others to have it both ways: to have died young and so become immortal, and to have lived out and fulfilled his promise in the established world and so to have that immortality narrativized. Jordan is James Dean and Laurence Olivier; Maurice Stokes and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. Maybe that is what it is to be the Greatest of All Time: to dunk and shoot the jumper. And I can’t really improve on that version of the story.

But I’d like to extend it with some wondering. I’m thinking of the dunk as the monosyllabic exclamation. And I’m thinking of the smooth, inevitable jump shot as the narrative of ineluctable triumphant conformity. But then I’m thinking of the video we watched. 14 dunks, 2 jump shots. But there were 8 other shots that were neither dunks nor jump shots. What is their discursive equivalent?

They were Jordan taking off somewhere within the general vicinity of the basket, leaving behind some earthbound defenders, encountering other, rising, obstacles in mid flight, fragments of bodies – arms, and hands – floating into his space, and Michael’s response: the body beginning to turn away from the basket and the defender, or, the knees drawing up toward the abdomen and the ball extending in one hand, he may begin to float beneath the basket; in either case, Michael designs and creates a physical space that he occupies alone, as he designs and creates it, in order to get the clear shot. Really, it is a space just for his left or right hand and the ball since that is all he needed to have cleared.

These plays, which are what I most remember of Jordan’s career, seem to me to carry the power of narrative unfolding, like a jumper, but without the foregone, prewritten character of that more predictable and repeatable shot. If these are part of what Shoals means by the “brash, brilliant doodles” of the chapter’s title, they might also be seen, in poetic terms, as Surrealist exquisite corpse prose exercises in which the story begin by one individual is continued by another and finished by yet another and nobody really knows how it will end until it has ended and then, and only then, will it have looked inevitable.

And that makes me realize that, whatever their differences, both the early Jordan dunk and the late Jordan jump shot share a sense of inevitability. But before one of the myriad variations on a layup that he improvised bounces around and drops in, before Michael lands in a cat like, thief like crouch, surrounded by defenders shaking their heads befuddled, before space once again becomes one, and grounded, and shared by us all – before all that, there is the dilated moment of extended exclamation, and wonder, and invested uncertainty: we don’t know how it will end, but it doesn’t matter, because we already care, it is already amazing, just as it is, a perfect slice of pure invention in process.

go backward to see our discussion of Magic and Bird

or

forward to follow us into the insanity of our class tournament planning