The Next Michael Jordan?

Ever since Michael Jordan retired, both the general public and the NBA’s marketing office has been on the lookout for the “next Mike.” Everybody needs to stop, because there will never be another Jordan. There will be great basketball players, but Jordan is on his own level. This is coming from someone who preferred dudes from that era like Larry Bird or Charles Barkley, guys who didn’t appear as effortless.  Liking Jordan was like rooting for Superman, it was too easy, because he really was that good.

While people can duplicate his moves, I doubt anyone will change the game like he did. His fame went beyond basketball, I think for a moment in 1992 Michael Jordan endorsed at least 30% of all products on sale in America. He was in a movie with Bugs Bunny. And he is the only human being on earth since World War II to successfully wear a Hitler mustache.

Look at his casual insouciance. He is owning that Hitler mustache. This is a type of facial hair that has been synonymous with genocidal evil for over seventy years. I don’t even know what it’s called other than “Hitler Mustache,” yet MJ knows that on his mug, that mustache will sell a lot of Hanes underwear.

Could Kobe Bryant wear a Hitler mustache? No. First off all, he eats Nutella and grew up in Europe, so he’s a little too close to the subject matter to wear it with the proper distance. Who knows what sort of European ideas Kobe was exposed to as a child? Socialized medicine? Labor unions? Just a stepping stone on the way to National Socialism and trains running on time.

Could Lebron James wear a Hitler mustache? No, Lebron is a guy who seems to have no natural fashion sense of his own whatsoever. He constantly looks like his mother dressed him in Pharrell’s  hand-me-downs.  He looks like he went dumpster diving at Urban Outfitters. No one looks more goofy and uncomfortable in the new NBA uniform of black rimmed glasses than Lebron. Remember, the key to wearing a Hitler mustache is to have the swagger to own it. If Lebron can’t own a cardigan, how is he going to own the most evil facial hair on earth?

Ironically enough, the one guy who I thought could be the “Next Jordan” for a second was the one guy the NBA couldn’t dread more: Allen Iverson. In terms of matching up with Jordan in his prime on a “one guy against another entire team” level (think of Jordan dropping 63 against the Boston Celtics in the 1986 playoffs), Iverson’s effort against the Kobe/Shaq Lakers in 2001 is the only thing I can think of that’s close. Just like Jordan in ’86, Iverson’s teammates in 2001 were mostly scrubs. And again, like Jordan, Iverson was going up against the dominant team of that era and the eventual NBA champ.  The 2001 Lakers had not lost a single playoff game going into that Game 1 versus Iverson’s Sixers. Iverson scored 48 points, and beat a team that included Kobe and Shaq in their prime, essentially by himself.

Iverson was David Stern’s marketing department’s worst nightmare. He was corn-rowed, tatted up, and he probably wasn’t going to sell any Wheaties. However, he did have a lot of style and swagger.  It seems passé to talk about now that we live in an era where NBA players want to dress like Les Nessman or Herb from WKRP in Cincinnati, but AI was the first NBA player to really bring street style to NBA. Homeboy had a neck tattoo in like 1998.

While he certainly didn’t have elegance or sartorial splendor, Allen Iverson looked a hell of a lot more comfortable in his doo rag and fitted than any of these guys look dressed like an inbred British public school student or Willy Loman’s bowling partner.  And since he was already hated by most of the country, I bet AI could have pulled off a Hitler mustache.  15 seconds with Photoshop confirms my hunch:


About peter

musings about music, culture, food, and more... twittering, tumbling, and instagramming: @PgunnNYC
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