Don't Call it a Comeback

by Liam Kuhn | 11/9/01 6:00am

Picture this: the most powerful nation in the world, a country historically steeped in confidence and pride, is devastated by terrorism and plagued by the looming specter of biochemical attacks. At times like these, we need someone capable of rising to new heights and capturing the imagination and awe of the American people. To paraphrase Paul Simon (something I feel comfortable doing since my hair is as unstylish as his boy Art Garfunkel's): Where have you gone, Michael Jordan? A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. (woo, woo, woo). Unfortunately, the MJ we're seeing today is a far cry from the MJ of old, the MJ we need.

Growing up, my life was hard. Now, I know that nobody likes to listen to people whine about their lot in life (especially when the person doing the whining is a white, male, American privileged enough to attend an Ivy League institution [no matter how cut-rate said Ivy might be]). But, Gentle Reader, I ask for a little forbearance. Besides, what else are you going to read? The news? Cut the s--. This is Dartmouth; nothing happened. The comics? Maybe, but isn't that Tats v. Kicker feud getting a little old? It's like me writing about the Greek system: past its prime. So, like I was saying, life was tough back in the day. Admittedly, I was no Oliver Twist -- in fact, I come from a warm, loving, and supportive family. Yet, while on the surface it appeared that I had all the trappings of a happy childhood, I was lacking the one thing that every well-adjusted child of our generation needs. That's right, I was without cable television. I struggled through my formative years with only four channels of crappy network programming, and I didn't even live in England. Now, hindsight being 20/20 and all, it seems like not having cable was probably beneficial: I was forced to find other amusements, like playing outside or reading books while all my peers sat on their asses, stuffing their faces with Dunk-a-roos while watching countless episodes of "Double Dare." But for all my fresh air and bookish knowledge, I can't help but think I missed out on something. Without ESPN, without TBS or TNT, I never really got to see Michael Jordan play while he was in his prime.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Michael Jordan's career, is bin Laden in that cave with you? (like I said, Dear Reader, forbearance) Seriously, the things Jordan did when he was on top of his game were simply absurd. If, for some strange reason, someone asked me to list my favorite people in the entire history of the world, Jordan would be right up there near the top of this list; right behind Jesus and ahead of my parents (Sorry, guys. Your ranking might be a little higher if we'd gotten cable).

Sure, every now and then NBC would show a Bulls/Knicks game and I'd finally get to see MJ play. But I grew up in New Jersey (I told you it was a tough life), so every time the Knicks played the Bulls, all my friends would root for the Knicks and I'd have to cheer for Jordan in utter silence, or risk getting pummeled by my so-called friends. (Remember, I spent a lot of time reading as a kid, hence I was an easy target for constant pummeling. Again, another problem having cable TV would have solved.)

Anyway, now I'm in college. For better or for worse, I live in a frat house. One of the only perks of living in a frat house, if you don't count that wonderful frat house odor and dried vomit ambiance as perks, is digital cable. So now I get tons of channels. And with Jordan's return to the NBA getting hyped more than sophomore summer, I can see him play almost every night. The only problem is, he's not that great any more. He's still capable of doing some pretty amazing stuff, but he's clearly not the man he once was.

The Jordan of old is like the Dartmouth that everyone reads about in Admissions office propaganda, etc. Unbelievably great. Talented in every facet of the game, able to make everyone around it better. The Jordan of today is like the Dartmouth of today: nothing like what everyone was hoping for.

My house is on social probation until February (I've a whole 'nother ax to grind about that, but not today). Therefore, I have nothing to do (being more of a wallflower than a social butterfly, I've cultivated a limited number of friends outside of my house -- inside it, too, but that's neither here nor there). In conclusion, my life has been reduced to sitting alone in my room, in last week's boxer shorts and a dirty wife-beater, sipping skunked Keystone Lights while watching Classic Sports, hoping to steal a glimpse of Jordan in his prime, hoping that things could somehow return to the way they once were.