JEFF PEARLMAN

JEFF PEARLMAN

My least favorite type of sports fan

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Tonight I had the wonderful privilege of being present for the Basketball Hall of Fame induction ceremony here in Springfield, Mass. It was a truly wonderful event. I’ve attended other Hall galas, and this was easily the best. Not merely because of Michael Jordan’s involvement (more on that below), but because of the class and dignity highlighted by the other honorees—David Robinson, Jerry Sloan, C. Vivian Stringer and John Stockton.

And then, there was The Fan.

The rude, obnoxious fan.

He sat across the aisle from me in the balcony section of the Springfield Symphony Hall. His name is Jim—I know because he is a trustee of the Hall, which means he wore a name tag and had free post-festivities access to the roam the stage and ask for pictures with the stars. His behavior (well, mis-behavior) began as soon as David Robinson took the stage. Jim’s Blackberry was whipped out from his pocket, and throughout Robinson’s eloquent talk the guy kept typing, typing, typing, typing. That was bad—but not nearly as egregious as the nonstop BEEPing coming from the damned device.

“I came to San Antonio, and …”

BEEP!

“Larry Brown was my coach, and …”

BEEP!

“We won, but …”

BEEP!

Over and over and over, with complete disregard for anyone in attendance or those being inducted. It was brazenly disrespectful, and the only reason I’m not printing Jim’s last name is because, here at 11:48 pm, I’m feeling suspiciously charitable. Plus, “Jim” isn’t alone. Throughout the auditorium, as Robinson got choked up over his family and Sloam spoke of just missing a deadly plane crash and Stockton recalled his youth, little and large fingers alike type, type, typed through it all. This, sadly, is the world in which we live—a place where common courtesy rarely matters; where people have their Blackberrys at the dinner table; where guys like Jim—little twerps made to feel important solely because of their financial worth—reign.

*

A quick thought on Michael Jordan’s acceptance speech.

In a word: Arrogant.

People here loved it. Loved it. But people here would probably ingest a wad of poop if they knew, for a fact, that it emerged from His Airness’s rump. Truth is, while Robinson was eloquent and Stockton touching and Stringer emotional and Sloan, well, dry, Jordan was the lone presenter to make his speech about … himself. I can’t blame him for it—the world has turned him into a God, and Gods don’t lack for ego. But his slams of Jerry Krause (deserved or not) rubbed me the wrong way, and the constant me-me-me-me-me of it all was disappointing. Anyone hoping for a kind, caring, sensitive Michael Jordan was badly disappointed.

And yet, who was hoping for that? People seemed to embrace his arrogance; to take it as their own. In this world, we struggle to find things to be cocky about. Work is boring, the kids wear us out, the wife is asleep by 9:30, Entourage has sorta sucked. We allow Jordan to be cocky, because he carries that mantle for us.

Or, maybe I’m just babbling.