Side Note

Michael Jordan is very worried about his legacy

Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all-time, as far as most people are concerned. He won six championships, dispatched all his rivals, mastered an aesthetically and statistically dominant style of basketball, starred in Space Jam, etc. Nobody denies his qualifications. But sports fans, being what they are, must endlessly debate such things, and in recent years LeBron James has made serious inroads into Jordan’s once-unquestioned GOAT status, even though he’s won fewer championships, and never starred in anything as good as Space Jam.

This apparently bothers Jordan, a notoriously pissy competitor who shit-talked his own teammates and was far worse to opponents. A semi-recent ESPN profile revealed he’s consumed with the possibility that people may one day think LeBron was better than him. Now, Jordan is participating in an upcoming multi-part documentary co-produced by ESPN and Netflix that will span 10 hours, according to sports reporter Richard Deitsch. The documentary will be released in 2019, and will presumably span just about everything that ever happened in his life.

It’s an interesting choice for a documentary: Jordan’s life is relatively well-chronicled, and lacks any sort of single compelling narrative — unlike O.J. Simpson, who was also the subject of a nearly eight-hour ESPN documentary — besides he was really good at basketball and won a lot and had a serious gambling addiction that maybe got him banned from the league for a few years, though there’s no way the documentary would confirm the last part. But aside from the potential ratings bonanza, it seems clear that Jordan would participate in order to further polish his own legacy and remind the kids today not to forget him, even as LeBron’s career accomplishments grow rosier with every year. 10 hours is so, so long. That’s longer than Shoah. You’d think his successes would speak for themselves, but it’s a lonely, paranoid place at the top, and maybe this will settle his nerves for at least a year.

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the length of the O.J. Simpson documentary.