There is no argument that Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player to have ever played the game. But his legacy is far greater than his record breaking stats, 6 championship rings, and the fact he earned every accolade offered by the NBA from the MVP to the Defensive Player of the Year to the Slam Dunk champion. MJ changed the entire culture of the sports & entertainment industry through his myriad of endorsements and business ventures. He was a pioneer, a trendsetter, and was the most famous person on the planet for well over a decade. Everyone wanted to “be like Mike.”
Everything he did was about excellence. This still holds true today with his Jordan Brand empire.
This is my fifth consecutive year working the prestigious Jordan Brand All American Classic – held at world renowned Madison Square Garden in New York City. This event is always one of the highlights of my year. Nike Basketball and the Jordan Brand team invited the top 20 high school players in the nation (and top 16 international high school age players) to the Big Apple, for as they put it, “the best basketball experience of your life.” The four day event offered so much more than just basketball. The group did an autograph session at the House of Hoops in Harlem, participated in a bowling tournament at Lucky Strike (with Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Asher Roth, and Vince Carter), scrimmaged at the Gauchos facility in the Bronx, and most importantly visited a boys and girls club and interacted with the kids. Staying completely authentic to the style of the Jordan Brand, everything about this event was first class – from the hotel Westin in Times Square to the buses to the food to the gear.
While the entire week was amazing, there were two experiences I enjoyed the most.
The first was hanging out with long time client and friend Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I have known and worked with KD since his junior year of high school; so it is always nice to catch up with him. KD had a breakout sophomore year in the league and finished in the top 5 in the NBA in scoring. But more impressive to me is how humble and down to earth he still is. He has not let fame or fortune change who he is and his work ethic and dedication to the game is stronger than ever. He will be an NBA All Star next year and for many years to come.
The other experience was meeting Michael Jordan and hearing him talk to the players before the game. He was absolutely captivating. He took questions from the players and his answers were dead on. Here are his paraphrased answers to a few questions:
Q: What motivated you to play hard every single night, even after you had proven you were the best player in the NBA?
MJ: “Every single time I took the floor, I assumed someone was seeing me play for the first time. Maybe the guy who collects the ticket stubs. Maybe a 12 year old kid coming to his first game. I wanted to prove to that person that I was worth the hype and was as good as advertised. Plus I played hard every day in practice; so playing hard in the game was just a habit.”
Q: What advice would you give us about our freshman year in college?
MJ: “Go in humble and be prepared to make a great first impression. Go in accepting, as a freshman, you are the lowest guy on the totem pole. Let your work ethic and passion for the game do the talking, not your high school reputation. Don’t expect anything to be handed to you; go out and earn it.”
Q: Who is better – LeBron or Kobe?
MJ: “Kobe is the best player in the NBA now. He plays both ends of the floor, is the most polished offensively, and works harder than anyone. But LeBron has the potential to be the best ever. As incredible as he already is, he is still learning the game. LeBron is going to be unbelievable.”
There you have it. Insight and wisdom from the best to have ever played. And I got to hear it first hand!
My role at these events is to get the players warm-up and stretched out before and after practice. If you want some info on some quality stretches to do after you workout or play, email me at Alan@StrongerTeam.com and I will send you some info. I will send you the same types of stretches I do with the Jordan Brand All Americans!
Train hard. Train smart.