By most accounts, Michael Jordan is accepted as the greatest basketball player to ever live. A larger than life, mythical figure, if you will. But in one way, Mike was just like the rest of us.
He was a bad ass little kid who occasionally didn’t listen to his parents.
During a visit to David Letterman’s show in 1989, the then-reigning MVP recalled a brief story (familiar to some) where mischief nearly cost him a limb. Growing up in the country – especially in the days prior to the Internet, smart phones and insanely-advanced video games – walking outside barefoot and chopping wood wasn’t exactly a totally uncommon routine, especially in Wilmington, North Carolina.
The only problem was Mike was five-years-old at the time and given strict instructions by his parents not to fool around with the ax. In classic “do-the-opposite” mode all kids delve into once or 850,000 times in their lives, he played with the ax, striking his big toe and almost chopped the thing clean off.
Thankfully, for an entire generation of Jordan zombies (and more importantly, the man himself), his toe was salvaged and a vortex of circumstances about basketball as we know it after 1982 were avoided. It does make a person think, however. What if the greatest basketball player ever never became the greatest basketball player ever because he chopped his big toe off before he was even able to write in cursive? Or how much did we miss out on knowing Jordan played his entire career with 9.5 toes? Could he have jumped from the three point line in the 1988 Dunk Contest? Would he not have turned the ball over so much in the first half of the “win-or-die” game versus the Monstars?*
Let’s just stop while we’re ahead.
* – Granted, he only coughed the rock up twice according to the box score, and he did go 22-22 from the floor, but two turnovers are entirely too much when the fate of the world is at stake.