Lesson Plan #13 - Adjoined Article
Note: We recommend that you print this article
and distribute it to your students.
The Bitter Chill in Chicago:
Any Future Without Jordan
Reprinted from Canadian Press
(http://www.recorder.ca/cp) article by
P. Belluck January 13, 1999
You can have all those muscular metaphors, those Big Shoulders,
that City on the Make. They were nice in their time, but their
time has long passed. Face it -- Chicago is the city of Michael
Ask any longtime Chicagoan what it has been like. When Eppie
Lederer, alias Ann Landers, used to travel overseas and mention
she was from Chicago, she would get a response that made her
cringe. "They'd go, 'Oh, Al Capone,' and make like they
were putting their finger to a gun," Ms. Lederer said. "I
was ashamed, embarrassed. Who wants to come from a city that's
known for the worst gangster of all time, where they shot people
like dogs?" His Airness changed all that.
These days, when Ms. Lederer discloses her Chicago pedigree,
people use their trigger fingers to fake a turnaround jump shot.
"Now they say, 'Oh, Michael Jordan,' " she said. Now
that Jordan has stepped down as basketball's supreme deity, the
Capone-Jordan transformation story was told so often in Chicago
recently that it took on the aura of the myth. But that, of course,
is not really the point.
The point is that Michael Jordan has given Chicago much more
than the chance to be home to perhaps the best basketball player
ever. He has saved this city's Second City complex, put substance
behind its bravado, and even, some people say, allowed Chicago
to slip free of the dusty harness of history and create a new
sense of itself.
As No. 23 announced his retirement from the Bulls on Wednesday,
Chicago, chilled and submerged under nearly two feet of snow,
seemed to be steadying itself for a collective eulogy. "It's
all over now," sniffed a headline in The Chicago Sun-Times.
"MJ Gone," mourned The Chicago Tribune.
"As a person, as a role model for children and for morality,
we will never be able to replace Michael Jordan," said Bev
Mandolini, 48, a housewife eating lunch at Michael Jordan's,
the player's downtown burger-and-crab cake restaurant.
At a nearby table, Brian Orlow, a 25-year-old accountant, was
in denial. "I still don't believe this is for real,"
Orlow said. "I think even if he announces his retirement,
the playoffs will roll around, the Bulls will lose to the Knicks,
and Michael's competitive juices will start flowing and he'll
decide he doesn't want to sit around and smoke cigars all day
To understand the devotion Chicago feels for Jordan, one has
to understand how much this city cares about competing, about
proving itself in every arena, especially in sports. The losing
streaks in this town are legendary: the Bears (who have been
on the fritz since winning the Super Bowl in 1986); the Blackhawks
(whose last Stanley Cup victory was 1961); the White Sox (who
have not won a World Series since 1917), and the Cubs (who have
gone 90 years without winning a World Series, Sammy Sosa notwithstanding).
The only glimmer of hope has been the Chicago Fire, the soccer
team, which won the national championship last year, but, alas,
too many people here still seem to have trouble getting jazzed
up about soccer.
But it is more than just the sweet wine of victory. It's that
Jordan charm, that ebullient charisma. "He's become a cult
in the city," said the author Saul Bellow, who is from Chicago.
"I think he's really a great figure," Bellow continued.
"He's a beautiful athlete. He's an exceptional person. He
conducts himself like a real gentleman, one of the few gentlemen
professional sports has produced. There's no skulduggery. There's
Chicago, of course, has benefited financially from the Jordan
phenomenon. And not just from his enterprises, a golf store and
two restaurants. His image has been a magnet for tourists and
basketball fans. Bellow has faith in the resilience of Chicagoans.
"They'll begin to say, 'Those were the good old days and
there's never been anybody like Michael before or after,' "
he predicted. " 'The march of history continues. Let's turn
our attention to the commodity trade."