NBA lockout is about to end. The hot topic of discussion is what’s the damage to Brand Jordan?
Michael Jordan is arguably the greatest basketball player of all times. But his skills and will are not enough to explain how he became the magnetic person that he is. During his Hall of Fame induction speech, Michael Jordan said: “There won’t be a new Michael Jordan.” This is a false statement, because who we knew and adored as “Michael Jordan” was actually not an individual. The magnet was the “Warrior/Hero archetype.”
Jordan was the ultimate ” Warrior/Hero” – an archetype that resonates extremely well with Americans. MJ followed the archetypal storyline: He was an ordinary guy from North Carolina, who stepped into an extraordinary world when he hit the game winner at the NCAA finals. Then, he encountered a new and superior enemy (first Bad Boys then Pat Riley’s Knicks), made new friends along the way (Pippen became the textbook description of the word sidekick), almost failed yet managed to overcome the challenge against all odds (won multiple championships) and finally saved the damsel in distress (City of Chicago and then the NBA basketball.) This is a typical storyline of a hero. Try to replace Michael Jordan with Luke Skywalker, or Rocky, or Harry Potter. What you will see is that the storylines are exactly the same, which proves that we witnessed the embodiment of the Warrior/Hero archetype by Michael Jordan.
What makes a Warrior/Hero so successful is his fierce competitiveness. Jordan’s obsession to win resurfaced during the lockout. Back in 1998 he advocated that NBA players should earn more. Now as an owner, he advocates that owners should earn more. That is perfectly fine and inline with the archetype. I don’t see why or how it will cause a backlash against Brand Jordan. Allow me to explain.
NBA players, who are paid to wear Brand Jordan are carefully handpicked: Wade, Paul, Anthony. I believe Jordan selects players not only according to their skill set but also according to their will (personality). They are highly “competitive” individuals. I don’t think any great AND competitive player would turn down an offer from Brand Jordan in the foreseeable future. Because, deep down those competitive players know that they’d do the same thing had they were in MJ’s shoes. That is the nature of a competitor. That said, Brand Jordan faces a bigger problem.
Michael Jordan’s behaviours over the last couple of years have been… uncharacteristic. As a player, he was extremely careful about his image and legacy. Marketers and PR people did a great job in promoting the positive aspects of his obsession to win. Yet, during the lockout and -actually, more obviously- his Hall of Fame speech the shadow side of the Warrior/Hero became obvious. According to Carol Pearson, the shadow attributes of a Warrior/Hero are: “Arrogance, developing a need for there always to be an enemy, not fighting for what really matters, ruthlessness and unprincipled, obsessive need to win, use power for conquest, a view of all difference as a threat.” A wise Warrior/Hero perceives his inner demons as his greatest enemy, and tries to beat his shadow before fighting others. Jordan is having tough time containing the shadow of his archetype. That is the real problem. Somehow PR people have to make sure that MJ’s competitiveness is under control and he is perceived to serve the greater good.