By Christin Walker, Staff writer
The inevitable has happened. On Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, one of the greatest basketball players of all time was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Michael Jordan, the original 23, has officially been locked into the history of sports.
“I was hoping this day was coming in 20 more years, or that I’d actually go in when I’m dead and done,” said Jordan to a USA Today reporter.
Athletes like Kobe Bryant and Lebron James have been compared to Jordan, but it takes a special superstar to hit game-winning shots, endorse shoes with a moneymaking silhouette, advertise underwear, attempt semi-professional baseball, and save the planet from animated monsters in a cheesy children’s movie.
Jordan’s résumé is utterly unbelievable. He is a two-time Olympic gold medal winner with the U.S. basketball team, he successfully played 15 seasons in the NBA, and he has set numerous records that put most other players to shame. He once scored 69 points in a single game, and had a 45 point performance in an NBA final game while battling the flu.
Jordan’s prestige and appeal might have originated on the basketball court, but it eventually spread: advertisers like McDonalds, Coke, and Nike thrived upon his endorsements and support. From every angle, Jordan’s career can be considered a complete success.
Of all the possible candidates that Jordan might choose to present him during his Hall of Fame induction, he chose David Thompson, former star at North Carolina State. Jordan picked Thompson over predictable names like Phil Jackson, Dean Smith, or Charles Barkley, all of whom had close ties to Jordan and his successful career.
“I was kind of surprised, and also was really flattered that he chose me over Coach Smith. You know how important he is?” Thompson said.
Nicknamed “Skywalker,” Thompson was the big name in basketball, leading North Carolina State to a NCAA championship in 1974, before Jordan was even on the radar.
According to Hall of Fame personnel, Jordan is a huge fan of Thompson and requested him because of his inspiration, clearly not because of his alma mater. Thompson went on to play for the Denver Nuggets in the NBA and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.
Thompson is honored to stand alongside one of his fellow legends. “I’ve been smiling ever since [I was asked to present Jordan]. I’ve been telling people and they’ve been congratulating me like I was getting in. I’m already in.”
The general consensus on Lee’s campus is support for the legend’s induction into the Hall of Fame.
“It’s the greatest achievement that a professional basketball player can attain. It gives me great pride to say that he played at UNC, near where I’m from. I’ve seen his skills first hand, and he’s the most remarkable basketball player I’ve ever watched,” said Jonathan Sausedo, a junior.
Other students are excited about Jordan's achievement because it reminds them of their childhood memories.
“I want to go watch Space Jam right now! I used to love Jordan in that movie!” said sophomore Jason Morris.