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Jordan's Big Day Coming Up

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Michael Jordan is set to enter the Hall of Fame on Friday, and there's obviously no question he belongs, and at the top rank. Really he and Bill Russell are a step above anyone else. Russell was the greatest winner, and Jordan not far behind on that score and also probably the greatest talent to ever play.

We say probably because there's no way you can measure the talent of say an Earl Manigualt. David Thompson, who is presenting Jordan Thursday afternoon, had Jordan-level talent. Len Bias wasn't far off either.

Our theory about Jordan's talent is this: there are probably more than a few guys with his level of talent, and that takes nothing away from him. What makes him different is not extraordinary talent. It's the drive and the extraordinary competitive desire. Only Russell is his equal in this department (and truth be told, his superior).

As Duke fans, we obviously weren't big on Jordan as a UNC guy, but he has transcended that character flaw. Watching him play, year after year, mastering so many different elements of the game and learning to compensate for his eroding skills as he aged - his career was an absolute treat. Certainly that was the case with the winning, but more importantly the pride. He never cut a corner, never took a day off. He was superb and has, like Babe Ruth, set a standard that might someday be matched but never really equalled.

The best explanation of Jordan, in one way, is a simple story from his days with the Bulls: they wouldn't let him lift weights with Horace Grant.

For all his greatness, Jordan was never going to outlift Grant. But his competitiveness was so intense that the Bulls were worried that he would injure himself trying to keep up with their power forward. So they told him he couldn't be in the weight room with Grant.

That really goes a long way towards explaining Jordan. His magical gifts were one thing. What he did with them was another, and it will be a very long time before we see that standard matched.

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