Or will this NBA co-financed feature play like an nonfiction companion piece to Space Jam?
There is a fascinating documentary to be made out of the life of Michael Jordan. A late bloomer who willed himself to become the most dominant competitor in basketball history, Jordan is the walking, soaring, dunking embodiment of the lie sold to every kid who takes to the hardwood. “Michael Jordan was cut from his high school team as a sophomore. It was only through hard work and perseverance that he came back and made the team the following year.” Right, coach. That and the extra four inches he stacked on over the summer. But I’ll bust ass on those ball-handling drills just the same.
Once Jordan grew into his body, he got great fast. He knocked down a National Championship-winning jump shot as a freshman at North Carolina, left school for the NBA two years later, and was dropping sixty-three on Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics by his second year in the league. While Jordan was repeatedly denied the NBA Finals by the mean old Detroit Pistons, he established himself as a multimillion-dollar shoe salesman for Nike via his pricey, to-die-for (literally) Air Jordans. By the time he won his first championship (in 1991), he was the most popular professional athlete in the world.
Since Spike Lee had a hand in the deification of Jordan (as the creator of his Air Jordan marketing campaign), it’s only right that he tear down the cheerful facade to reveal the ruthless competitor underneath. To win six NBA titles like Jordan did, you have to revel in the decimation of your rivals. Denying the guy in the other jersey has to be its own elation. By all accounts, Jordan loved destroying as much as he loved building, and maintaining, a dynasty.
But if you want to see Jordan’s cruel streak, you’ll probably have to continue to look elsewhere, because I sincerely doubt that NBA Commissioner David Stern will sign off on a documentary that dares to humanize the game’s greatest player. Mostly, this currently untitled film sounds like an excuse for Jordan to take a European vacation next year.
Per Spike: “Mike wants to come to Cannes, so hopefully we will be here next year.”
Expect James Toback’s Tyson minus the candor. And, by the way, I’m not one of those conspiracy theorists who thinks Jordan’s gambling issues drove him out of the game for two years.