"Michael Jordan's life hasn't been private for years, and James Jordan's death won't be, either. . . . Your gut fear that seemingly innocent trips to Atlantic City or accusations of unpaid golf bets had something to do with this tragedy won't go away until and unless investigations make them go away."
Sam Smith of the Chicago Tribune, who wrote the best-selling book The Jordan Rules, wrote:
"Prosperity, it seemed, was making Michael Jordan a monster, an arrogant, selfish superstar who pursued his own agenda."
Then Smith listed the basketball player's problems:
"There were accusations in a book that he'd lost more than $1 million gambling and then refused to pay his debt, more gambling questions when he went to Atlantic City to gamble before a key game in the playoffs and a self-imposed boycott of the media for two weeks during the playoffs."
There wasn't a day that went by that the stories about James Jordan's "missing status" didn't also contain the information that he had pleaded guilty to a felony and been placed on probation several years back for embezzling $7,000 from his employer. There were also repeated references to the fact that he had been sued many times for failure to pay debts.
In addition, it was explained that nobody notified the police that he was missing, because James Jordan was always running off for days at a time without telling anyone where he was.
The only columnist who came up with a piece indicating that Camelot still existed for Michael Jordan was Bob Greene, who wrote the book Hang Time: Days and Dreams With Michael Jordan, a series of adulatory interviews with Jordan. Greene wrote a reminiscence last Sunday.
"If you're lucky," Greene recalled Jordan saying to him, "you grow up in a house where you can learn what kind of person you should be from your parents. And on that count, I was very lucky. It may have been the luckiest thing that ever happened to me."
It is instructive to learn who Jordan considers to be his friends in the media. The only media person invited to the funeral was Ahmad Rashad, the television sportscaster.
It's a strange story. Last Sunday, at the height of it all, that Nike commercial for Jordan ran again. The one in which he's all alone in the gym and he says: "What if I were just a basketball player?"
But he isn't just a basketball player. He's a superstar. And these are the things that go with the package.
We will be caught up in this story forever. It will never go away, and we don't know what effect it will have on Jordan.
"The past is never dead," William Faulkner once wrote. "It's not even past.