Our artistic director, Mark Haven Britt, is illustrating a book on Michael Jordan–you can see his drawings here, and that’s an example above. In honor of Mark, we will have a regular column inspired by Michael Jordan. Michael was about absolute greatness. He wasn’t just the greatest basketball player of his time, and perhaps of all time, he transcended the sport. Jordan was a cultural icon who led fans across the globe to copy his look, his shoes, his game (to the best they could), and his attitude. Whether it was his outfits or his perfect movements on the court, we all wanted to be like Mike. Jordan combined excellence with aesthetics. So this semi-regular column isn’t just a tribute to MJ, it’s a tribute to athletes who embody both greatness and beauty in their craft.
Which means that this column will not discuss Payton Manning (wobbly passer), Arjen Robben (flappy arms), Clayton Kershaw (herky-jerky motion), Serena Williams (too many grunts), Christiano Ronaldo (too pretty), Jason Kidd (too ugly with an even uglier setshot), Tom Brady (bad hairdos, outfits), Tim Howard (bad beard), Barry Bonds (big head, bad earring), Larry Bird (no explanation needed), and Chris Bosh (looks too much like a raptor)…all of whom are excellent at what they do, but not beautiful doing it. Until Tim Lincecum stops experimenting with a mustache, he’s out too.
(At this moment, given the reference to the mustache, I should probably qualify that Jordan’s aesthetic is going to be solely pre-Washington Wizards. The extra weight, the continued use of the big gold earring, and the Hitler-stache are all things we don’t want to have cloud our memory of him. This is why Kurt Cobain died young, so we never got to see his ironic cardigan start to look like less ironic and more like Mr. Rogers. Also, like MJ pre-Wizards, for Hope Solo to be considered, it has to be pre-psycho aggressiveness mode.)
Likewise, this column will also not discuss those who are beautiful at what they do, but not ultimately excellent. This disqualifies a homer favorite, Henrik Harlaut, one of the most beautiful freestyle skiers whose shout out to Wu-Tang after his sixth-place performance at the 2014 winter olympics was absolutely epic, because his tremendous aesthetic–baggy pants falling down during his run included–isn’t quite matched by his actual performance.
After all this lead up, I now need to actually think of someone who currently embodies the Jordan Aesthetic and isn’t totally obvious. Thinking…thinking…thinking…