Title: Hang Time: Days and Dreams with Michael Jordan
Author: Bob Greene
I have a problem.
Every time I see a library book sale I fall in love. The libraries could easily donate the books once the sale is over, but the librarians want the books to go to someone who wants them. So deals for $5 hardcovers morph into $5 to fill a bag with books. They’re so desperate to get rid of books that they promise they’ll look the other way if the bag rips. So now there was enough room for one more book and then I saw Hang Time: Days and Dreams With Michael Jordan by Bob Greene. The back cover promised unique insights into Jordan, and I was sold. The book was practically free so the decision was made as I stuffed it into the bag.
Full disclosure: I’m not a Michael Jordan fan. He’s a great player, and most likely the greatest ever, but I can’t stand the mythologizing. It was happening in real time and has only grown worse over time. I figured I would be getting real-time insights of Jordan as everything was happening. Instead, there were milquetoast quotes, and a near deifying of Jordan by Greene, a non-sports writer.
Greene had once in a lifetime access to Michael Jordan. He followed the Bulls closely during their first two championship seasons (1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons). He was there for the release of Sam Smith’s The Jordan Rules (which revealed the conflicts of the 1990-91 Bulls), he was even there for the uncovering of Jordan’s gambling habits. Greene sat with Jordan for hours over the two seasons, and he gave us less than breadcrumbs. As a lifelong skeptic, I can see how this book received a Jordan seal of approval and provided a side that counters that of Smith’s. The book became a national bestseller and a friendship was born.
While the book is full of fluff there are interesting tidbits. We see Jordan not only as a megastar but how he is cut off from the world. During the second championship, he doesn’t trust any of his teammates, his thoughts on then-NBA commissioner David Stern handling his gambling, and that he wanted to win the second title for himself. Jordan received more criticism than he was used to, and he wanted to take it out on everyone. It was here that we saw his bitterness seep through his well-manicured facade. Why didn’t Greene delve further into that? My only response is:
Highlight: Bob Greene has a discussion with Jordan and decides it’s time to bond over Elvis, but Jordan doesn’t care. Greene stresses that it’s important, but Jordan cares less. It’s here that Greene learns “Elvis was a hero to most, but he doesn’t mean shit to (Michael Jordan).” (c) Chuck D. It was completely patronizing, and MJ’s response was perfect.
2 (out 5) villains