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May 30, 2014

If memory serves correctly, I was lucky enough to see Michael Jordan play basketball for the Chicago Bulls, live, in person, at least once, possibly twice. Once at the O-rena in Orlando, in a game against the Orlando Magic, probably back when Shaquille O’Neill was that team’s main attraction. And, again, in an exhibition of some sort at either the University of South Florida Sun Dome or what was once the Florida Suncoast Dome or the ThunderDome (and is now Tropicana Field).

ROLAND LAZENBY podcast excerpt: "The whole Jordan family was short and Michael had really grown despondent. Because if basketball success was going to be about who was tall, he wasn't going to be able to do anything in the sport. And basketball was really his last resort. Then a cousin showed up who was 6'5" and created all sorts of hope in Michael. And -- BOOM! -- he started growing! ... The rest is history."

I also drove to Sarasota during spring training the year he walked away from the Bulls to pursue a lifelong dream of playing professional baseball. Still have a Nike souvenir baseball from seeing him play that day, too. There have been few human beings that have ever attracted – and earned – the fascination and devotion of so many people all around the globe. Michael Jordan is surely one of them.

Certainly, he had ups and downs in life – turns out he can fly, but he still makes mistakes like the rest of us. That doesn’t make him any less one of the most compelling characters of our age.

ROLAND LAZENBY podcast excerpt: "I always felt that Michael Jordan was playing basketball to heal the great wounds in his family. When he got to the Chicago Bulls there was a lot of conflict there, too -- with Phil Jackson, Jerry Krause, Jerry Reinsdorf, and Scottie Pippin. But Jordan kept playing to keep the family healed."

Roland Lazenby has covered the NBA for several decades and in recent years has authored biographies of two of the league’s legends. First it was Jerry West: The Life and Legend of a Basketball Icon. And now he has produced a massive, 708-page biography of Michael Jordan, simply titled Michael Jordan: The Life. I’m still working my way through it, to be honest, but based on the several hundred pages I’ve completed so far, I heartily recommend it to you, whether you’re a big college or pro basketball fan or simply enjoy a deeply researched and revealing biography.

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