Monday, November 16, 2009

Big Difference Between Jackie Robinson And Michael Jordan

LeBron James is off base about his desire to have the NBA retire Michael Jordan’s No. 23 permanently.
They did it in baseball for Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 because he was so courageous while breaking the color barrier in that sport, when it was far and away the most popular in this country, and Jim Crow laws still ruled the South. Robinson was a great player, but certainly not the best of all time. He was, however, the most important player of all time, opening up professional sports to those of color - and it help set off a reaction that is still rippling throughout our society.
Michael Jordan's greatest impact on society was his ability to market himself.

Random Thoughts

- In the "those who hesitate are lost" category, Stanford has decided the economy isn’t so bad it can’t afford to give Jim Harbaugh that contract extension the university had been hemming and hawing about. Wonder if there is an escape clause? It’s more difficult to find out about Stanford in that regard because it is not a public university. It is known, however, the buyout on Harbaugh previous contract was only $600,000. Stanford didn’t just beat USC - it destroyed USC.
I do believe if Stanford played Cincinnati, it would win, and TCU is better than both those teams. Michigan would lose by three touchdowns to all three. Maybe by four. The Spartans would play each tougher - and lose by only a touchdown or two.

- Does seem like some fans and media are overly excited about the Pistons. I mean they are 5-5. They did just lose at home to Dallas. Wasn’t the expectation the Pistons would be about .500 this season?
Maybe it’s because they are doing it without Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince in the lineup, and Will Bynum has surprisingly emerged. A trade is inevitable at some point. Too many players in the backcourt and not enough in the frontcourt. But just because the Pistons are different doesn’t mean they are any better. They did win 39 games and back into the playoffs last season.

- If the Stanley Cup playoffs began today, the Red Wings would be a sixth seed in the Western Conference and facing Chicago on the road.

My column in Monday's Oakland Press on Lions:



Anonymous Jeff H said...

Excellent point, Book. Retiring Jordan's # would be a joke. You can easily make a case for at least 5 other players as the greatest of all time - Russell, Jabbar, Robertson, Bird & Magic. The difference is that Jordan was lucky enough to play his entire career with suck up coverage from ESPN. The Heat retiring his # was a self-serving attention grab by Pat Riley.

Even though he was the greatest scorer in league history, the NHL screwed up by retiring Gretzky's #. That honor should be reserved for those who made a mark on humanity beyond the playing field. If any league ever retires a number again, it should be baseball retiring # 21 for Roberto Clemente or the NFL for Pat Tillman.

12:44 PM 
Blogger Larry Baker said...

I completely agree concerning Jackie Robinson v. Michael Jordan. Regarding the Pistons, it is clearly a matter of expectations. I wasn't sure how the current crew might be able to snare a rebound or defend a lick. There really does seem to be a possibility that Dumars can rebuild without blowing up the team. The strong play of the guard trio without Rip or Prince also convinces that a major trade could be made without setting back the cause. (I like their "plan" better than the Tigers'!)

7:19 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

I don't think you can blame Wade for sticking up for his idol. Wade was not around when Robinson played - and at the time - Sports was Jordon.

Unless you were rooting for the bad boys of course.

Gretzky was the great one - but during his reign damn near every Canadian hated the guy because he wasn't a brawler - but he changed the game.

But Robinson and Campenella transcended sports - they were real news. As did Ali. And Pele.

This generation will wait for Tiger Woods to transcend golf in the same way - and while he is the greatest there ever was (Sorry Nicklaus, Hogan, Palmer, and the incredible Bobby Jones) - but this generation will be disapointed that all Tiger will do is golf.

Someday technology will give our kids kids a real way to have the greatest of each generation go head to head - in some 3D halogram arena of the venues of the day - but until then - we should just chersih the best of the best when we get to see them.

Theres no telling who's coming next.

7:35 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pat, it said that cleveland has only scored 4 tds in the last 15 games is there any reason to believe that they wont score 50 on the lions

9:08 AM 
Blogger msu1983 said...

A huge Amen for you Book on the MJ issue, just as the NHL screwed up the Gretzky # 99 retirement.

Not only has Jordan done NOTHING even a fraction of the equivalent of what Jackie Robinson did for society and MLB, it is fairly debatable that MJ is not even the clear best player in his own sport, meaning LBJ's argument loses on both merits.

9:16 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Jeff H,
To me, when the NHL did that with Gretzky, it was bush league. What if he had worn No. 9 in his career? Would they have done that. No. Classic overeaction.

11:04 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Larry Baker,
I think people are extremely happy the Pistons are playing hard again. I think it was inconsistent effort the last couple seasons that was wearing on them as much as anything.

11:05 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
The thing is, Jackie Robinson was about so much more than sports. His playing in the major leagues for the first time was one of the most significant events in history regarding U.S. race relations. They mention it in the same sentence as the Brown vs. the board of education and the civil rights act. Michael Jordan was about "Space Jam."

11:09 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

The Browns are to offensive football what the Lions are to defensive football. They are both offensive in a way.

11:10 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Yeah. What about Wilt or Magic. MIght be Kobe. Same with Gretzky in hockey. I think Bobby Orr is the greatest hockey player of all time. Some think Gordie Howe. Others, the Rocket.

11:11 AM 
Blogger Sandy Gholston said...


You are correct. Jackie Robinson meant far more to the game than Nike, Hanes and Gatorade. What Jackie Robinson did was bigger than sports. Michael Jordan brought more money into it by marketing himself, but in no way, shape or form can his accomplishments be put on par with Jackie Robinson's. People want to Be Like Mike now, but Mike was able to be Mike because of the courageous acts of men like Jackie Robinson.

11:42 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Sandy Gohlston,
As time goes on, it becomes even more evident what an extraordinary person Jackie Robinson was during his lifetime. Extraordinary.

12:26 PM 

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