“It did not stop there,” Jordan went on in thanking the Bulls at length for giving him a chance to excel and have a professional life in basketball. “I get to the pros. (Coach) Kevin Loughery used to take practice and put me in the starting five. Halfway in the game he’d put me on the losing team. I take that as competitive. Nine times out of 10 the second team would come back to win no. I appreciated Loughery giving me that challenge.
“The (Bulls) came up with this whole theory you can play seven minutes a game when I’m practicing two hours a day,” Jordan said about the time in 1985 he broke his foot and the team wanted to limit his return for fear of worsening the injury. “I didn’t agree with that math. I wanted to play. I wanted to make the playoffs. Jerry (Reinsdorf) said, ‘Let me ask if you had a headache and—there was a 10 percent chance then I’d reinjure myself--and you’ve got 10 tablets and one is coated with cyanide, would you take it?’ I looked at him and said, ‘How bad is the headache?’
I loved that the first person he thanked/recognized was Scottie Pippen. Thought the speech was exactly what I expected, hardly humble, but graceful in its arrogance/pride.
Reaction from the Washington Post -
Michael Jordan buried his head into his hand, wiped the sweat from his brow, then rubbed away tears before they poured from his eyes. It was an emotional display, during a 73-second ovation that preceded Jordan's speech as he entered the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. Jordan told friends that he would simply thank the people who helped him become known as the greatest basketball player in history and then move aside gracefully.
But Jordan, who has established himself as a global icon, gravity-defying marketing machine and ultimate showman, couldn't leave the lectern swiftly. He asked one question -- "What is it that you don't know about Michael Jordan?" -- then spent the next 21 minutes explaining the competitive drive that pushed him to one NCAA championship at North Carolina and six NBA championships, five most valuable player awards and 10 scoring titles with the Chicago Bulls. It started with his family, growing up in Wilmington, N.C., where his parents taught him the value of hard work; his older brothers, Larry and James, fought him; and his younger sister, Roslyn, took extra classes to graduate from high school with him.
"You want to know where my competitive nature came from? It came from them," Jordan told a capacity crowd at the Springfield Symphony Hall. "As I grew, people added wood to that fire."
Jordan said earlier that he hated entering the Hall of Fame because it meant that his career in basketball was officially over. On Friday night, he left another opening.
"One day you might look up and see me playing the game at 50," Jordan said. "Oh don't laugh, don't laugh. Never say never. Because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion. Thank you very much."
A negative reaction to MJ's speech -
“M.J. was introduced as the greatest player ever and he’s still standing there trying to settle scores,” one Hall of Famer said privately later.
Jordan didn’t hurt his image with the NBA community, as much as he reminded them of it. “That’s who Michael is,” one high-ranking team executive said. “It wasn’t like he was out of character. There’s no one else who could’ve gotten away with what he did tonight. But it was Michael, and everyone just goes along.”
Jordan wandered through an unfocused and uninspired speech at Symphony Hall, disparaging people who had little to do with his career, like Jeff Van Gundy and Bryon Russell. He ignored people who had so much to do with it, like his personal trainer, Tim Grover. This had been a moving and inspirational night for the NBA – one of its best ceremonies ever – and five minutes into Jordan’s speech it began to spiral into something else. Something unworthy of Jordan’s stature, something beneath him.