Ben Gordon: Ghost In the Machine
by Isaac Perry
For the sixth consecutive year, Michael Jordan’s ghost blows into Chicago on a fall breeze. It’s not that anyone has forgotten Jordan. All year his eyes stare at the downtown Loop from the Bulls’ United Center where he is frozen like a bronze archangel. His legs are spread, arms outstretched, his wings, as always, unseen. It is the perfect honor for Jordan, a statue built for a poltergeist, praise for a presence that has never left this city no matter what executive post he occupies in foreign lands or what strange uniforms he dons. Michael Jordan is as Chicago as Al Capone, Harold Washington, Blues, wind, skyscrapers or snow. If you scrape the concrete of this city, Jordan’s blood will seep through.
Michael’s ghost still occupies the hearts of boys playing basketball on makeshift courts built in South Shore alleys. His anger still resides in the minds of men arguing about his legacy on subway platforms. His fate still hangs in the balance for many who wish him back, praying that the Bulls come to their senses and offer him a front office job, if for no other reason than to give his spirit peace and to keep it from looming over every Bulls season like a disapproving parent. And in the northern suburbs, near the mansion #23 still calls home, Michael Jordan’s ghost has entered another house, Ben Gordon’s house, just as it will enter the house of every Bulls player in the days shortly after Halloween, reminding them of what once was and what will, perhaps, never be.
No one expects these young Bulls to be Jordan. Ben Gordon, Luol Deng, Andres Nocioni—Chicago’s rookies; all of them point toward the future and this city hangs onto that future while trying to relinquish the past. And for Gordon, who was picked No. 3 by the Bulls in the draft and was quickly lauded as a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate before a single ball had been dribbled on a Bulls practice court; Michael Jordan’s ghost is especially prevalent, especially poignant. This team’s future is not on his shoulders, that fate lay equally on all the Bulls. But Jordan’s post as Windy City export is still vacant and waiting to be filled; Chicago waits anxiously to find a young star with enough marketable flash and charm to become its next spokesperson. No Bear, Cub, White Sox or Blackhawk has done the job to satisfaction. And so the question remains, who will break out and claim Jordan’s pop culture throne? A R.O.Y. trophy would certainly point one young stud in the right direction. Will it be Gordon, or will we be wearing Air Dengs in the not so distant future?
I didn't see this when it came out, but its a good read after season one is nearly complete.