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The Last Dance

I have to admit that I’m a little sad today. And it’s not what you think. For the first time in a while, I’m not going to talk about the dreaded “C” word today. Instead, I want to reflect on two topics in my sports world that made me feel happy and, at the same time, a little sad.

Here’s the first one. On yesterday’s Sports Animals show, one of our guests was Zigmars Raimo, who graduated from the University of Hawaii this past Saturday. There have been many players who have come through the basketball program at UH, and Zigmars is one of many who I’ve gotten to know (mostly through doing our postgame show, “The Fan’s Voice,” after Rainbow Warrior basketball home games). The happy part of this is that I can appreciate what he did on the basketball court – and he did a lot, especially this season. But also for Zigs, he was always friendly, accommodating and upbeat, not just with me, but with all of his fans as well. The sad part is that, like many other UH basketball players who leave UH but go on to start their future and their next phase in life, we won’t get to watch that, and for the most part, they will be forgotten. For the outgoing seniors, their lives are really just beginning. For us, the media and the fans, the part of their life we got to share with them has just ended. And today I was reminded of that. So maybe bittersweet is a better word than sad for today.

The other sports topic that made me a little sad (okay, again, maybe bittersweet) is the end of “The Last Dance,” the fantastic 10-part series on a guy name Mike and the running of the Bulls. It will probably win awards, and I know I’m gonna watch them all over again. I loved every minute of it. The part that made me happy is watching this and seeing and hearing about aspects of Jordan’s career that I never knew about. The sad part is that there’s not an 11th episode. But I also want to bring this up, because it has been pointed out that Jordan was at times a bully, arrogant and cocky, and this was with his own teammates. I admit that was surprising to see. I heard a little about that, but not to this extent. My takeaway from this is that it doesn’t change my way of viewing Jordan at all. The 10 episodes reinforced my beliefs that, even more so, he is the GOAT.

We as sports fans very often like to tear down the greats of sports. So often when an athlete does something questionable, like show real emotions, get upset, do something on a day off that doesn’t meet our approval, date the wrong person, etc, we tear them down. It’s not right, but as a society, we like to point out the faults in others. We like to bring the stars down from their pedestal. I don’t know why. It just happens. LeBron James is the top all-around player in the NBA today. But when he has the nerve to go from one team to another, well within his rights, we criticize him, we put him down constantly. We don’t mention all the great things he does for kids, for society, we tell him how his decisions wrong. We don’t celebrate him enough. Getting back to  MJ, to me, he could do no wrong. Whether it was on or off the court, I enjoyed it all, and never thought negatively about him. Even when he beat my New York Knicks in the playoffs four times. There aren’t many athletes in my life that I’ve viewed that way. It’s a very short list.

As I wrote earlier, I’m a little sad today knowing that, he again, all good things must come to an end. But in these times, I’ve learned to appreciate all the good, to savor the memories in sports, and in life as well.

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