Former professional basketball player Michael Jordan has achieved worldwide fame and fortune, due to his unprecedented skill and success in the game. On Sunday, February 17, 2013, he turned 50 years old. The Chicago Tribune, newspaper of the city Jordan spent most of his playing career in, dedicated their Sports section that morning to celebrating his birthday.
One of the special features in the section is a list of 50 memories, about Michael Jordan, collected from those who have known him in some capacity over the years. While there are the usual anecdotes from his teammates, coaches, friends, and other basketball-related associates, one story sticks out among the rest: A story relayed by David Falk, Jordan's longtime agent throughout his playing career, who manages to include retro gaming within the player's legacy.
The first summer following his rookie year, Michael comes to my house in Washington and notices that I have a Pac-Man machine in my rec room. He looks at me and says: “Can you play?” We play a couple of games and I crush him. He says, “Let's play again.” I'm playing and I have the joystick and he screams: “Look out! Look out!” He distracts me and I get eaten. I turn to him and say, “MJ, do I talk while you're playing?” He looks at me and says, “No, but I'm gonna win the next game.”
Many correlations can be made between video games and sports. The story from Falk is a great example of Michael Jordan's hyper-competitive nature, shown even in how he goes about playing vintage arcade cabinets. At the time, few had any inkling of the greatnes Jordan would achieve, as his championship-winning days were still several seasons away. But if there was any sign that Air Jordan was going to be a cutthroat competitor, surely that session of Pac-Man was among the most prescient indicators.
Eric Bailey blogs at NintendoLegend.com, where he is reviewing every American-released NES video game. He also serves as Editor-In-Chief of retro gaming features site 1MoreCastle.com, and can be followed on Twitter @Nintendo_Legend.