Upon further review . . .

Finished my class. Caught up with Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech. Taped the Emmy’s, which I’ll never watch. Joining Weight Watchers tomorrow (are you required to tell them that you plan to stick around only until your pants aren’t so uncomfortable? Is there a special membership plan for this?)

Of course, now I need to carve out an extra 10 to 12 hours a week for the new season of “Dancing with the Stars,” which could be a problem, but I can fast forward through at least eight of those hours, so I think I’m OK.

I am back in blog land because without my touchstone, I feel like I have been dreaming this last week. Weeks?

At some point during this time, I also gave a library talk on my book, “Sweet Lou – Lou Piniella, A Life in Baseball,” which, if you enter my website in the conventional manner, you have been assaulted with for the last five months. This was my plan.  But ever since Piniella’s Chicago Cubs have been out of the pennant race (I believe sometime in mid-June), the talks have, well, lacked a certain punch.

The book is about Piniella’s life, a biography, and as such it should not be important that he has bombed with his latest team or that most Cubs’ fans would like to see him on the next bus to St. Pete. But because he happens to be wearing Cubbie blue on the cover, I get the distinct feeling that Lou, sweet or otherwise, is not necessarily a person of great interest.
For my next book project, I am thinking of perhaps something on the cast of “Dancing with the Stars,” as I believe this would be truly timeless.

In the meantime, I want to call back every radio show, acquaintance and anyone else with whom I have chit-chatted about Michael Jordan over the last few weeks and take back what I said.
For those of you who may be unaware, Jordan has been roundly and almost unanimously eviscerated for his recent induction speech at the Basketball Hall of Fame. People are not supposed to be criticized for their Hall of Fame induction speeches. This is like being booed while doing a eulogy. This was supposed to be a festive moment in which Jordan joined his other inductees, thanked everyone from his kindergarten teacher to the Bulls equipment manager (Johnny Ligmanowski, a really nice guy) and, if all went according to plan, cried while doing it.

Jordan did cry. This was the best part, according to most. I only saw the last few minutes live, which included a very nice, sentimental little passage that sounded like he took it from a collection of old athletic proverbs about limits, like fear, often being an illusion.
I liked that part, don’t get me wrong. But if he wrote those words himself, then I was the ghostwriter for all seven Harry Potter books.  
The rest he wrote himself. And after reading bits and pieces and then passively agreeing with most that Jordan was inappropriate in his comments, I have now seen a tape of the speech in his entirety and I officially take it back.

It was neither inappropriate nor mean-spirited nor worthy any of the other silly critiques people have given it.

I covered Jordan and the Bulls throughout the 1990s and traveled with them as the Tribune’s beat writer during their early championship years. I liked Michael, but I do not pretend to be his friend nor to know him as, say, a psychoanalyst would.
What I do know is that the speech was quintessential Jordan. It was also as sincere as any of the speeches that night and not even close to him trying to be nasty. I’m not going to repeat everything he said. If you’re interested and haven’t heard it, there are about five million copies on U-Tube to replay.

I doubt most people really listened to it – the way he said what he said, exactly what he said. It was genuine and from the heart. It probably did require a passing familiarity with the man to appreciate it and for that, it might have been worth getting someone to at least proof it.

But he is a public figure, open to our probing and to our criticism, even for a Hall of Fame induction speech. It is the price he must pay. He knows this better than anyone. I’m just glad on this night anyway, he didn’t seem to care.

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