A player, in the prime of a Hall of Fame career, gets tired of being overshadowed by lesser players. He seeks out the advice of a personal trainer from outside his sport, then personally hires him without the consent of his team. The player adds 21 pounds by lifting heavier weights more often than any of his competitors. Who is this athlete? Barry Bonds? No, Michael Jordan.
By now, we all know the rumor of Barry Bonds eating with Ken Griffey Jr. and exclaiming that because of the public ignoring his fantastic season (which included joining the 400 home run/400 stolen base club) due to Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire, he was going to start using steroids. But in truth, the above story is the story of Michael Jordan, after being defeated in the 1991 season by the “Bad Boy” Pistons. Tired of being pushed around, he made small mention in the paper about needing to add strength. Tim Grover went to the Bulls’ office to answer the call.
Jordan started his weight-lifting plan by putting a time limit of thirty days on it, but he never stopped for the rest of his career. Grover was hired exclusively by Jordan, and refused to work for players Jordan didn’t approve of. Workouts with Grover led to Jordan being able to shoulder press more than his body weight overhead six times. Greg Anderson would be proud.
I am not claiming that Michael Jordan was a steroid user. I think he was the greatest athlete of all time and completely clean. I believe that all his gains were natural. What I am saying, on the heels of Lance Armstrong’s admission and the baseball writers’ refusal to vote for Bonds and Roger Clemens, is that he would have.
Imagine if in 1993 Jordan was defeated in the Finals by Charles Barkley, who then admitted to Jordan that he was juicing. Or imagine if Patrick Ewing talked the Knicks into widespread use to defeat the Bulls in the conference finals. Better still, imagine if after Jordan’s comeback, Gary Peyton and Shawn Kemp defeated the Bulls with the help of a needle.
Would the greatest competitor of all time take the high road and allow himself to be beaten year after year? This is a guy whose owner, while trying to talk him into sitting out the end of a season after rehabbing a broken ankle, asked Michael, “would you take aspirin to cure a headache if you knew 1 of the 10 aspirin was poisoned?” Jordan’s response?
“How bad is the headache?”
Logically, he would have found the best drugs, worked twice as hard, incorporated the use of PEDs into the famed breakfast club and got back on top.
In the end, we won’t ever know if Michael Jordan would have used steroids. His sport was not infested with them in the 90′s when other sports were. That might be the only thing separating him from the terrible fate now suffered by Bonds, Clemens and Armstrong.
I’ll leave with a couple quotes, the first two from Tim Grover in a Stack.com interview about Jordan, and the last three from Jordan himself.
“He always felt someone else was going to outwork him, so he wanted to outwork them first.”
“He is the most competitive individual I’ve ever met. His competitive nature is the same, whether he was playing in the NBA Finals or in a pick-up game… He took no prisoners. He wanted to win every single thing. It didn’t matter who he was going against. He went out there to win and destroy.”
“If you are trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks, everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”
“Once I made a decision, I never thought about it again.”
“But my drive to win is so great…I just step over that line. It’s very embarrassing.. one of the things you totally regret. So you look at yourself in the mirror and say “that was stupid.”
If you take an unbiased look at Michael, you’ll find the attitude, the will to win, his relentless drive for perfection. The foregoing responsibilities to wives and children. The dogged pushing of teammates, sometimes past their breaking points. Barry Bonds, Lance Armstrong, and Michael Jordan are similar animals. Lucky for Michael, steroids never took hold in basketball. And lucky for us, we have one hero left.
Tim Grover quotes from Stack.com “Michael Jordan:Mind of a Champion”
Michael Jordan quotes from www.michaeljordanquotes.org