All-Stars reflect on Jordan's influence
Michael Jordan's about to add another All-Star moment to his resume: his big 5-0 is coming up on All-Star Sunday.
Rookie of the Year. Five-time NBA MVP. Six-time NBA champ. Six-time NBA Finals MVP. Defensive Player of the Year. 14-time NBA All-Star. Three-time NBA All-Star MVP. 10 scoring titles.
Jordan helped take the sport to the next level. He's considered by many to be the greatest player of all time.
"I wanted to be like him," said Heat guard Dwyane Wade, himself a Chicago native. "We all wanted to be like Jordan in this era of growing up, so no doubt that he had a big influence on so many athletes of today. Whether you're playing basketball, whether you're playing another sport. If you look at David Beckham, he wore 23 because of Michael Jordan. No matter what sport, he's one of the greatest athletes we've ever seen."
"Yeah, I remember the high-flying dunks and the fadeaways," said Kemba Walker, who plays for the team Jordan owns a majority stake in, the Charlotte Bobcats. "Sticking his tongue out and just hitting his game-winning shots, things of that nature. I remember a few things.
"He doesn't even look 50. He doesn't even look 50. Man, I'm just honored to be around him every day."
"Everybody wanted to 'Be like Mike,'" Wade added. "And he came at the perfect time. All the stars just fell perfect for him. He was the perfect athlete at that time to give all of us inspiration to become something that we dreamed of. That's why he is who he is, why he's still special so many years later. 50 years old. He's still relevant today."
Some of Jordan's most spectacular moments came during All-Star Weekend at the Dunk Contest against the "Human Highlight Film," Dominique Wilkins.
"When I think of MJ, I think of the fiercest competitor to ever play," Wilkins said. "A guy who lifted everyone he played against, lifted their emotions, lifted their competitive will, and he is what basketball is today."
According to several reports, Jordan has rented out a section of Houston's Museum of Fine Arts for his milestone birthday bash. It's only fitting that such an All-Star moment takes place on All-Star Sunday.