I hate Michael Jordan. John Elway too. You might want to add Edgar Renteria for good measure. All of them contributed to significant and lasting losses for Cleveland sports. But Jordan and Elway are by far the worst for me.
I’ve got to admit Jordan was the greatest basketball player to ever step on the court. No question. LeBron is a transcendent talent and one of the best, but Jordan was the best. I respect his talent, but I still don’t like him.
When you think of Jordan, what one image always comes to mind? How about the video of him tossing up a fade-away jump shot over Craig Ehlo and then pumping his fist in the air? Sound familiar? I remember watching that game. Ehlo played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. That shot (or “The Shot” as it’s often called) was not just a game winning shot, it was the series winning shot against the Cavs in the 1989 Eastern Conference finals.
The Bulls were a dominant team back then, but the Cavs were right at the top of the conference with Chicago. The Cavs were stacked with talent, but they kept running into the Bulls and Michael Jordan. They never made the NBA finals because Jordan’s team kept beating them.
John Elway, another icon of his sport, is a player I instantly hated and still don’t like to this day. Ever hear of “The Drive?” It was during the 1987 AFC Championship game against the Cleveland Browns. The Browns were up on Elway’s Broncos 20-13 with 5:32 left in the game. The Broncos had the ball on the 2 yard line, and in the span of the final 5:32, Elway led the Broncos on a 98 yard drive to score and tie the game, sending it into overtime. It is one of the most clutch drives ever in the history of football.
Whenever I catch the game replayed on the NFL Network as one of the “Greatest Games Ever” I always hope the score turns out differently. I watch, waiting for Hanford Dixon or Frank Minnifield to intercept a pass. I hold my breath hoping the Browns stall the Bronco offense. It doesn’t. Elway still orchestrates “The Drive” and the Broncos end up winning in overtime. It’s such a heartbreaking loss too. The Browns have never been to the Super Bowl and the 1987 (and 1988) AFC Championship games against the Broncos were the closest they ever got. The current team is far from reaching that kind of success.
I recognize the talent both Jordan and Elway possessed. They were giants in their respective sports. Sports fans and many non-sports fans can tell you at least something about the two athletes because they are much more than a basketball player and football player. They had killer instincts and a drive to push themselves and their teams to be the best, and it paid off.
But Jordan and Elway happened to perform their absolute best against my teams! Every great athlete has to be victorious over other athletes. More often than not, Jordan had his best games and most memorable performances against the Cavaliers. Elway’s signature moment was “The Drive” against the Browns. For a young teenager, these losses were stinging. My teams were so close to bringing championships to the city, starved of one since the days of Jim Brown. It was a difficult time as a young fan.
And yet I continue to fly the colors to this day.
The Cavs are the best team in the league with LeBron’s return and a roster full of exceptional talent. The Browns…well they’ve got a long way to go before being the respected team and franchise they used to be. I still hold out hope and every Sunday don my brown and orange rooting for my team.
One day I might come to like Jordan and Elway. One day Jordan might miss that shot over Ehlo and Elway will get stopped before marching down the field. Until then, I’ll hold on to that frustration just a bit longer.
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