Who doesn't want to be like Mike?

Wednesday, June 17, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

I want to be like Mike. I want the ball in the closing seconds, with a season in the balance, with the whole world watching.

I want everyone on the edge of their seat until I'm ready to make my move. Then, once I've made it, I want to see the fresh astonishment on their faces.

I want to live a dream every single day.

I want to be able to move stock markets with a raised eyebrow or a passing reference to retirement. I want women to swoon when I walk by, and grown men to gasp. I want corporate titans to ask for my autograph and insist it's for their grandchildren.

I want limo drivers to wrestle for the right to give me a ride. I want restaurants to close their doors to the public so as to serve only me. I want waiters I don't have to wait on and bodyguards without body odor.

I want the world on a string, neatly knotted around my index finger. I want Bob Costas sitting at courtside, making basketball into melodrama at the microphone. But I want Ahmad Rashad entrusted with the tough questions, such as: "Just how great are you, MJ?" When we're done with the interview, I want Ahmad to go fetch my dry cleaning.

Teammates know place

I want Scottie Pippen riding shotgun because Scottie knows his place. He scores enough points that I can catch my breath and not so many that he expects to see the ball in the fourth quarter.

I want Dennis Rodman around for comic relief because some days I worry about being overexposed, and The Worm can always create a diversion on short notice. Plus, he rebounds the ball without considering whether he should shoot.

I want Phil Jackson on the bench for his cerebral influence and his cigars. I may not know much about the triangle offense, but I can tell you No. 23 is always at the apex.

I want to play in Chicago, where every championship is a novelty, and you're never more than three minutes from deep-dish pizza. I want to make a movie with Bugs Bunny, and get a thumbs-up from Gene Siskel. (If Siskel prefers to give me the thumbs-up for a game rather than for the film, that's his privilege. He's spending big bucks on those courtside seats.)

I want to play minor-league baseball as a lark, and get good enough at golf that I can hustle the hustlers. Once I've had a few days off, I want to bring the World Cup back to wherever it needs to go.

I want to make so much money that I can buy a world capital. Just so I can rechristen Amman as Michael, Jordan.

I want to shoot free throws with my eyes closed. Just because I can.

I want my own restaurant, my own sneaker, my own cologne, my own clothing line and my own action figure. Just for laughs.

I want my own time zone. No reason.

Greatest athlete

I want to be acknowledged as the greatest athlete of all time, the fiercest competitor of all time, and the last one to know about Nike's Third World labor practices.

I want all the calls from the referees. And when I get a call from the President, I want to be able to put him on hold.

I want a lifetime exemption from traveling violations because dribbling can detract from a dunk. I want the refs to count to 10-Mississippi when I'm in the paint.

What do you mean they already do?

I want Karl Malone one-on-one, full-court.

I want Kobe Bryant one-on-one, half-court.

I want Jerry Reinsdorf one-on-one, half an hour. He'd keep the Bulls together or I'd walk.

I want to go out on top, on my own terms, on pay-per-view. I want to keep going so long as I am the best player in the game, and retire one nanosecond before someone overtakes me.

I want to be like Mike.

Who doesn't?

Enquirer columnist Tim Sullivan welcomes your E-mail. Message him at tsullivan@enquirer.com.