Michael Jordan Jersey in Miami: A Classic NBA WTF
Seems like I’ve heard about it before, but maybe I didn’t think much of it at the time, or just forgot, as it occurred way back in 2003, before the ‘blogging era’.
But there I found myself, coming home to an on television Friday night, checking out game six of an incredibly boring Heat-Hawks series.
Dan Marino was courtside, ESPN showed his retired jersey in the rafters. Little curious to see it hanging in a basketball arena, but okay … I’ll go with it.
I once ate at Dan Marino’s steakhouse in the gloriously classy Hooters Hotel & Casino in Vegas … or is it delightfully tacky, yet unrefined? In any case, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at Marino’s steakhouse. Plus, you gotta give the guy credit for going from the prince of coal mining country to the king of South Beach … the equivalent to Biggie Smalls going ashy to classy.
But just to the right of Marino’s jersey, there it was, red Chicago #23. Huh? None of the announcers could really explain why Michael Jordan‘s jersey was retired to the rafters. Jeff Van Gundy seemed to angrily mutter about it being unacceptable to have your opponent’s jersey retired.
So what’s the story? In ’03 Pat Riley decided to retire Jordan’s jersey in Miami, saying, “No one will ever wear No. 23 for the Miami Heat.” Also according to the SI.com story, the jersey was half-blue for the Wizards and half-red for Chicago … doesn’t seem to be the case now, all red.
Now, Jeff Van Gundy could be a bit bitter for what Riley did in conveniently replacing his brother, Stan Van Gundy, to win a championship with the Heat.
But still, JVG is right … you retire the jersey and number of a player who beat your team time and time again? Jordan went 30-8 against the Heat in the regular season, only scoring below 18 points twice (both times in single digits)—and both times when MJ was with the Wizards — and 10-1 against Miami in the playoffs. Not only that, Jordan’s number 23 was the first jersey to be retired in Miami.
I don’t care if Jordan was the “greatest”—Miami putting a red Chicago Bulls jersey in the rafters is an absolute disgrace. If you’re a Wizards fan, could you imagine one day retiring LeBron James‘ jersey in Chinatown, DC? I shudder at the thought with disgust.
Kobe’s jersey in San Antonio? Duncan’s jersey in Phoenix? I think not.
I already wasn’t a huge fan of the Heat franchise, as they’ve beaten up on the Wizards a good bit, but because of this, they’ve just lost a great deal of respect from me.
Will the Miami Heat lose any sleep over this? I doubt it. But at least my home arena doesn’t have the jersey of a man who used to torch us hanging from the ceiling as a cruel reminder. Nope, I’ll stick with the embarrassment of WNBA “Attendance Champion” banners hanging in the Verizon Center.