Jordan Should Tell Press: 'Cut Bull' Over Bush Snub

Posted: October 09, 1991

In about half of his movies, John Wayne would grin at an angry woman and say: "Has anyone ever told you that you're beautiful when you're mad?"

I'd like to ask sports commentators: "Has anyone ever told you how hilarious you are when you get mad?"

At the moment, some are mad at Michael Jordan.

It isn't easy to get mad at Michael Jordan. He doesn't do drugs. He doesn't get loaded and ram light poles. He doesn't clutch the bottoms of young lovelies.

All he does is play basketball more spectacularly than anyone has ever done and conduct himself the way every father wishes his sons would.

But sports page philosophers, always on the alert for a character flaw, have found a flaw in Jordan.

As a Chicago Sun-Times headline put it: "Jordan strictly bush league in his White House snub."

This referred to the fact that the Chicago Bulls had been invited to the White House to be congratulated by President Bush for having won the professional basketball championship.

But Jordan, star of stars, didn't go to the White House. As this is written, he hasn't explained his absence. This has led to suspicions that he might have been playing golf when he could have been shaking hands with Bush.

And that has enraged some sports commentators. As the one who wrote beneath the above headline sternly said: "Bulls management should have forced Michael Jordan to show up. Because he didn't, they should fine him, as should the NBA (the league)."

Huh? Force him? Fine him? Let us suppress our hysteria for a moment and consider what that means.

First, when a basketball team is invited to the White House to meet with the president, it is for one purpose only: To enhance the president's political stature.

This is known as a photo opportunity. The idea is that newspapers and TV will show us Michael Jordan and President Bush shaking hands and exchanging friendly quips. Michael Jordan fans are then supposed to think Bush is an OK guy and vote for him.

Despite what the sports page hysterics say, it has nothing to do with patriotism, being a good citizen. It has to do with political con.

So why should Michael Jordan be forced, as the silly sports lad suggested, to pose for pictures with a candidate in next year's election?I have no idea why Jordan didn't go to the White House. Maybe he wanted to play 36 holes of golf, a game to which he is addicted. If so, fine. I'd rather play golf than pose for photos with a politician.

On the other hand, I do feel a certain regret that Jordan didn't go to the White House. If handled properly, it might have been a productive visit.

For example, Jordan might have said: "Nice to meet you, Mr. President. If you have a second, something I'd like to talk to you about. No, don't worry, I won't bring up your dismal civil rights record. Or that Willie Horton garbage.

"I have a problem. I'm pretty rich for a young fellow. And I love golf. And I can afford to belong to any of the best golf clubs in America. Problem is, I can't join the best golf clubs. Don't know why. I have a nice family, I don't act like a fool, and I play a very solid game.

"So I figure that you being a Yale man and all that, with lots of top- drawer social connections, you could call some of your rich Yale buddies and ask them to put me up for membership in their private golf clubs.

"Of course, I'll understand if your friends don't want me as a member. Some clubs just don't like real tall guys. That must be it, right?"

Eventually, the sports intellects will badger Jordan to explain why he didn't go to the White House. I'll offer him some help.

Just say: "Hey, if the President can play golf while a bloody war is going on,why can't I play golf while a goofy photo opportunity is going on?"

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